A New App Is Helping Kids Who Stutter, And It’s Using Rap Music To Do It

Get the flow.

Mitch from the Netherlands dreams of being an MC. He has the ambition and a message, but he also has a stutter. Rap, unfortunately for Mitch, is as much about flow as ambition and message. It's about your words locking, popping, and flowing in compelling rhythms the way your body moves when you're breakdancing. The skill is hard enough to master on its own, but when you have any kind of speech impediment, your dream of "rockin' the mic" can feel more like a nightmare. Thanks to Vodafone, ad agency DDB & Tribal Amsterdam, and a few Dutch musicians — including one of Mitch's idols, Ali B — his dream might be closer to becoming reality. 

As part of its Powerful Connections program, which highlights how technology improves people's lives, Vodafone's free Android app, Get the Flow, uses elements of rap to help people address their stuttering. The app was developed with input and tongue-twisting or alliterative lyrics from some of Netherland's top electronic musicians and rappers, including Sanne Hans, Broederliefde, Sevn Alias, Soufiane Eddyani, and Jairzinho. Kids, who practically live on their phones, can also use the app to rap together in real time, helping them build a sense of community as they build their self-esteem, a problem which can hold back kids like Mitch, who is not alone with his condition. 

Worldwide, more than 70 million people stutter — approximately 1 percent of the population. In the U.S. alone, more than 3 million people stutter. The condition affects four times as many men as women, and can be genetic, the result of injuries, or other family dynamics. Most importantly, it's no indicator of intelligence or predictor for success. Notable people in history who have dealt with stuttering include: King George VI, Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar, Samuel L. Jackson, Emily Blunt, Nicole Kidman, Marilyn Monroe, and (allegedly) Moses.

While there is no cure, there is hope, even if you can't afford a private tutor like King George VI. "Music helps with fluency," says the therapist working with Mitch in the video. Mitch concurs. "When I rap, I don't stutter." As he and Ali B conclude in the promo track they recorded together: with help, you too can be a verbal king (or queen). 

Check out the app's video below:

(H/T: Adweek)

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