You are most likely familiar with the world-famous theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, and his inspiring life of living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is a form of motor neurone disease, which, as a direct result, left him paralyzed.
Did he allow himself to be defined by his disease? No.
Did he hold back from achieving what he set out to achieve? Definitely not.
And neither is Mpumalanga born and raised, rap and hip hop artist known as “Stephen Gawking -The Nuclear Lyricist”, who’s afflicted with a similar disease.
Stephen Gawking is the brainchild of Ijay Swanepoel, who he describes as: “A symbol of hope and inspiration to those who are disabled, different, oppressed, bullied and everyone in-between”. The 27-year-old is living with a disorder called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), but that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his life passion, music.
“I always played around with words and writing for fun, but never took it seriously until around mid-2018. I was inspired by Lil Dicky to just go for it, and try doing something different,” he explains. His passion for wordplay and lyricism evolved when he realised he had a talent as a lyricist, and this has given birth to his first single titled, “Nerd’s Creed”.
Listen to ‘Nerds Creed’ below
“There are so many people and things that are causing division in this world; I want Stephen Gawking to be the opposite of that, and bring people of all cultures, backgrounds, and more, together,” he says. Ijay was diagnosed with SMA at the tender age of one, and although he could have allowed himself to be defined by his disability, instead, he wishes to inspire people with his story and constant drive to live out his passion in life.
His musical influences include a range of local and international artists but lists Jack Parow at the top of his local influencer list. “When he came onto the scene, he was totally something different, not just in terms of him being the first Afrikaans rapper to really go viral, but his whole attitude of being who he is, and not caring what others think, as long as he is proud of who he is.
He doesn’t conform to the norm, and that sparked something inside me, and definitely not just in me; a lot of people can relate”. On an international scale, his influencers include artists such as Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kanye West, Childish Gambino and Tyler the Creator. “I also have to mention King Los; he is, in my opinion, the best word player/rapper/lyricist in the world at the moment”.
One could easily get caught up in the cards life has dealt, but with a strong support system behind you, it can make the world of a difference. When asked who his biggest supporter in life would be, Ijay says that it would no doubt be his mother. “She has always supported me and continues to support me in everything I choose to explore in life,” he concludes.
Listen to Nerd’s Creed:
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