Whispers of “it’s Jimmy Davis, Davis!” echoed through the Jafar Hall. The tapping of feet, not so easy a feat—and the swaying of heads (to his charm they did lend), were the only percussion to an effortless freestyle. It was to rapturous applause that on Monday 24 April, the Eton College Rap Society held its inaugural meeting, starting off with a bang – or, more accurately, a banger. Birmingham rapper Jimmy Davis, independent rap maestro and former mentor to Ed Sheeran, had the audience wrapped around his fingers. Though representations of that punchy genre known as hip-hop – home to sonorous 808s, labyrinths of wordplay, and street-filled swagger – he ended the evening having touched upon the themes of one’s potential, following one’s dreams, drug use, psychology, and “that gift in you.”

Mr. Davis used his introduction to prove his mettle. His first action was to take a swig of water, whilst the audience waited in anticipation, before – like a tidal wave – all was consumed by his flow. Word after word, punchline after punchline, it was clear that Jimmy Davis had something to say – and that he did. School did “not enthuse” him, and growing up around negative company, he was surrounded by a “toxicity” conducive to drug habits and even career sabotage – his friends smashed the toilets during his breakthrough DJ set! “I was on a self-destruct mission”, he mused, a melancholia setting over the room like a haze. Then, with a panache rivalling that of his opening verse, he concluded: “You have to love yourself, man.”

It was impossible not to be moved as Jimmy discussed his troubles with addiction, homelessness, and a loss of hope – but it was a passion for music that carried him through. “I am going to follow my dream of music,” he said, delivered with such resolution that not a soul would dare to question it, and, come opportunity, one must “be ready, man!” He cited the story of ballet extraordinaire Gillian Lynne and her psychiatrist, whose ‘misfit’ activity in youthhood was attributed to her not having been able to embrace her love for music. Mr Davis felt much the same – and his progress was astonishing. He went from making mixtapes on the streets to touring with the likes of Nizlopi, meeting heroes along the way. The purpose of life, according to Mr. Davis? “It’s to live life with a purpose.”