Christian Als: Voice

Ian Willey, 28, had his first experience with hip hop early.

“I wrote this great poem once in second grade called Fat Pat. It started like this, “Once there was a boy named Pat, who was very, very, very Fat.” And ever since then I liked rhymes,” Willey said.

Willey is now actively pursuing his dream of becoming a hip hop artist, having recently released his first professional album.

But the words and motivation behind that album originate from an unexpected place — 90 fifth grade students at an elementary school in Harlem.

Shot, edited and produced by Christian Als, Janine Boreland and Edith Champagne.