Leeds Trinity University alumnus, Zishaan Faridi, a.k.a. Zeeno Shortz, has made the headlines recently for the way he supports his local community in Huddersfield and encourages others to follow his lead. But it isn't just his charity work he is getting noticed for, he's also an emerging rapper who has had his music played on Radio One.
Having seen Zishaan's story published online and in local newspapers, Alumni Officer Brett Arnall travelled to Huddersfield to meet him and find out more about his music and charity work. With Brett being a bit of a rap fan himself, he boasted about taking some street knowledge along with him before he set off!
Brett said: "I could see how much Zishaan is revered in the local community, we were welcomed in to a shop and given a floor to ourselves to conduct the interview. He's a really humble guy who isn't just determined to succeed in music, but also to be a positive role model and help as many people as possible."
Zishaan has been rapping since he was 10 years old, the inspiration for his lyrics come from his own life experiences and the situations he's been in. He has seen some of his friends from school end up in jail and has also grown up around gang culture.
Last summer, he performed in front of hundreds of people on the main stage at the Black Musical Festival in Leeds. On 17 December 2017, he released his EP. The following day this was played on Radio One by one of his heroes, DJ Target, on his prime show. This was further recognition and realisation for Zishaan that he can really make it in the music industry.
Brett asked Zishaan some more questions about his time at Leeds Trinity and his charity work.
What are your best memories from your time at Leeds Trinity?
Funnily enough, I wasn't really known for my rapping in my student days. I was a pretty dedicated student who did my work and then just came back home. My best memories are actually being in the library until midnight and being able to meet other students during those late nights from diverse backgrounds.
Do you think your time at Leeds Trinity has helped you along the way?
Being at Leeds Trinity help me very much as a person. One of the main things I took away was the ability to become very focused. Having deadlines to meet and being able to stick to various routines is extremely useful in my busy everyday life today.
I also have positive memories of the lecturers from Leeds Trinity. Phil McDonald, I remember, always talked a great deal of sense!
Where do you think your determination to help so many people came from?
This all stems from my mother! I remember as a kid my mum really gave back to as many people as possible. As a family we didn't have much but my mother was always extremely (if not over) generous with as many people as possible. I have definitely followed in her footsteps and I'm very proud to do so.
What are some of the projects you've done to support your community in Huddersfield?
One of the initiatives I started is called 'Everybody Eats'. I set up stalls during the summer in 2017, during Ramadan. These stalls, taking place on a Friday, were for everyone, from any background, they could come along and eat for free as well as collect essential accessories to make their lives easier. A lot of restaurants supported this project and we were able to feed many people.
Vidoes of his projects are available here: Everybody eats and Helping handFoundation.
I also have my own charity which is called the Helping Hand Foundation which was established in 2015. Every winter I gather as much food and useful accessories as possible to give out to people on the streets. I was proud to be out to support many people in Leeds, and Bradford as well as Huddersfield. This was so successful that by December 2017 it had grown bigger than we ever imagined. So many people were prepared to help!
What is your dream?
My main goal in life is to have a really positive impact in the world. Young kids need to have positive role models, especially those who come from underprivileged backgrounds. I want to make songs and do charity work that can change lives for the better.
How do you think people in Huddersfield would describe you in three words?
Brett admits, he actually answered this question for him! Positive, popular and respected.
What one piece of advice would you have for current students at Leeds Trinity?
You can do anything, if you believe in yourself.