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Rapper brings it home: Da Kid Emm goes back to school to talk growing up in Carroll

Michael Yeboah, 28, now a rapper who goes by Da Kid Emm, went back to school Friday as part of a Black History Month presentation at Manchester Valley High School. Yeboah spoke to the teenagers about his teen years in Carroll County as well as his music.

When Michael Yeboah entered North Carroll High School during his sophomore year, he hated Carroll County. Now, he's the owner of a four-bedroom home in the county.

Yeboah, 28, now a rapper who goes by Da Kid Emm, went back to school Friday as part of a Black History Month presentation at Manchester Valley High School. Yeboah spoke to the teenagers about his teen years in Carroll County as well as his music.

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"I was just excited to share my story, especially with younger kids who could be affected by my story," he said after his presentation.

Yeboah graduated from North Carroll in 2007 and formed the group New Sound. The group released a demo and won a music competition, which resulted in them being signed, he said.

In 2011, the group fell apart, and Yeboah rebranded himself as Da Kid Emm. Yeboah said he records music out of state, but he films music videos in Carroll, including a video for his song "You'll Be Set," which he performed in front of the students.

When Yeboah spoke to the students, he said he wanted to share a message that all could relate to, not just those who are black.

Yeboah's message to students was about bullying and others who judge people. When he first came to North Carroll from his previous high school in Gaithersburg, he said he had trouble fitting in. He used different slang at his previous school than what the kids used at North Carroll, and he had to adjust to the new environment.

"Just trying to be myself without feeling like people were judging me," he said.

But once he made friends, he said it was a lot easier.

"Eleventh grade on, it was straight," he said.

Yeboah's message struck a chord with senior Corey Haifley, who said he was bullied when he was younger.

"[Yeboah's performance] was really good. He was amazing," Haifley said. "What he said touched me in many ways."

Haifley said it can be difficult to brush off what others say, but, like Yeboah, he said having friends has helped him. Once he found people like him, it was easier to make friends.

Students reacted well to Yeboah's presentation. During his performance, many of the students had their hands in the air, waving along to Yeboah's rhythm, and they sent him off stage with loud applause. Although the students were dismissed back to the class, a handful came down to the stage to speak with Yeboah.

And not all of Yeboah's fans were students. Board of Education member Marsha Herbert attended the performance to see her former student.

"I'm just so happy for him," Herbert said. "I really am."

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Herbert taught Yeboah physical education and said as a student he was "always onstage" and was entertaining in class.

"But I knew he loved music. And you never knew what was next with him, but he always added a little spice," Herbert said.

Herbert said bringing Yeboah to Manchester Valley was a good choice because it allows kids to see someone from their school system who went on and was successful. The message is also important given it's Black History Month.

"People need to be aware and reminded. He just brought it all home with his life," Herbert said.

Attending high school in Carroll does filter into Yeboah's music, as he said that he finds his inspiration from his life experiences.

"I try to write music a lot of people can relate to," Yeboah said.

In shooting his music videos in Carroll, he said he is trying to infuse some of his music into the rural county.

"I just keep trying to evolve the county," he said.

Something else in the back of his head when creating music: his mother.

"And she's heard the songs with all the cusses, and she still likes them because of the message," he said. "I try to keep my music positive."

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