New Zealand's latest rap sensation has sprung from the unlikeliest of places, saying they owe their success to charity.

Auckland rap duo Church & AP have been taking the country's rap game by storm with their smash hit Ready or Not, and strong debut EP Thorough Bred.

The duo is made up of Elijah Manu (Church) and Albert Purcell (AP) who are both only 17 and 18 years old respectively.

They haven't been around for long - they first started working on Thorough Bred early last year and since then, their lead single has clocked up more than a million Spotify streams and dominated the airwaves.


What many don't know however, is how Church & AP came to be - springing from a local community outreach programme, The Crescendo Trust of Aotearoa (CTOA).

CTOA is a non-profit charity, which mentors youth. Church first collaborated with CTOA in 2017 and AP joined a year later, where the two worked closely with Izak Kennedy - a mentee-turned-mentor who also happened to be a skilled musician and producer.

Over the course of a year, he helped Church & AP record their EP.

"We're really a testament to the success of community outreach programmes," says Manu (Church).

"A lot of people think they are for troubled youth and that it leads nowhere, but Ready Or Not was made in the CTOA studio. It was made in a room probably no bigger than your bathroom."

Kennedy says the EP - and consequently, Church & AP's success - would not have been possible without CTOA and its resources.

"We are immensely proud to have been a part of Church & AP's growth into one of New Zealand's premiere hip-hop acts ... the process has opened doors for not only the duo but myself that I never believed would be possible," he says.

CTOA was created by Blindspott and City of Souls member Marcus Powell in 2012 to give mentees a chance to work alongside industry professionals in music, film, photography, media and communications.


For Powell, Church & AP's success sums up why he started it in the first place.

"I started CTOA because I want to inspire positive change in our youth and music is a universal language that binds us all. It's been a privilege to help Elijah and Albert on their creative journey."