Ben Coyle-Larner, from Lambeth, adopts the name Loyle Carner when he serenades us with his eloquent flow. His stage name is some sort of intentional double-barrel spoonerism that reflects how he has struggled with ADHD from a young age. This perfectly summarises him as a person.
Carner is paving his way into the alternative hip-hop scene slowly but surely. Every release has a growing anticipation behind it. His buzz is one that, although small and select now, has the potential to go big. And I mean crazy big. Anyone trying to break their way in nowadays has to be good. In an age where anyone with half decent flow and basic understanding of voice-memos can upload a mixtape to SoundCloud, you have to step away from the crowd and brave the solitude of your own individual sound. This is what Carner has done. He’s different. In every way possible.
“We connect with him because, in the real world, nothing is perfect.”
Loyle Carner is inherently un-hip-hop; but in a wonderful way. It’s a genre with roots deeply engrained in self-advancement and the sabotage of others’ careers and reputations: think Biggie Smalls vs. 2Pac. Carner contradicts these stereotypes with his self-deprecating lyrics. He repeatedly raps about the things that aren’t perfect.
These aren’t sad, attention-seeking statements about how bad his life has been: they’re beautiful confessions of his past. They’re almost apologies. Take ‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’ for example. ‘Like it’s the great escape, brothers doing better than me / I’m in a hurry, worry, what if they forget about me?’ His appreciation of others above him and his recognition of his falling behind, despite his own success, is the type of self-deprecation that exposes Carner’s humble nature. That’s why, I feel, as a listener and fan, that his lyrics resonate with so many people. We connect with him because, in the real world, nothing is perfect.
Within hip-hop, and rap in a wider context, artists traditionally use their violent pasts as inspirations for their lyrics. Carner rejects the templates of lyrical inspiration laid out for him by his forefathers. He instead joins other big names, like Tyler the Creator, in the alternative hip-hop scene. Carner tends to reject the trend of rapping about drugs, gang affiliations and girls and eloquently raps about the things closest to him: his mum and brother. This means even my mum loves it when I put Loyle Carner on the kitchen speakers after dinner.
Carner’s family was left devastated after the death of his step-dad five years ago, leading to ‘BFG’s release a few weeks later. You can hear a reference to his family in almost every song. This is perfectly exemplified in ‘Sun of Jean’, a passionate confession for the endless love he has for his mum. Carner is whole-heartedly a mummy’s boy, and that is just one of many things that sets him apart from the rest of the industry.
“interesting fashion sense and his passion for family are all things that define him as Loyle Carner.”
Even his style of backing track makes him unique. Whilst the majority of the UK rap industry follows the same trend of modern, high-tempo garage beats; Carner has stuck with the OG boom-bap sound pioneered by the greats of the ‘90s. He’s truly riding the wave of the naughty nineties revival, and I love it.
Carner is quirky and odd, but he’s also cool. He’s harnessed the things that differentiate him from the crowd and made them his personality. His extensive vintage England shirt collection, interesting fashion sense and his passion for family are all things that define him as Loyle Carner. He’s unashamedly himself.
One of these quirks includes being a cooking teacher. That’s right. Loyle Carner, the 24-year-old rapper, teaches kids with ADHD to cook. Carner credits his passion for cooking to his mother who introduced him to it as a method for coping with his own ADHD as a kid. This passion acted as the main influence behind his single, ‘Ottolenghi’, released October 2018. ‘They ask about the bible I was reading / Told them that the title was misleading, labelled it Jerusalem / But really it’s for cooking Middle-Eastern’.
Carner is a huge fan of Yotam Ottolenghi, the Einstein of Middle-Eastern cuisine. These lyrics refer to an incident where two men confronted Carner about his copy of Ottolenghi’s cookbook, Jerusalem, on the train. The joke’s on them, though: Loyle is now a trusted friend of both Ottolenghi and culinary genius Heston Blumenthal. He’s taken his passion and reinvested in the community that took him in.
All said and done, Carner is just a normal bloke. He likes watching the footy, hanging around with his mates and loves his mum. What more could you want from the guy leading the way in British hip-hop? I’m excited for his future and you should be too.
Featured Image courtesy of Trending Topics 2019 via Flickr.
Main image courtesy of @loylecarner via Instagram.
Image use licence here.