Traditionally the bridge between UK rap and the mainstream consciousness has been a fragile one. Rap, as with grime and hip-hop, usually sees the latest street superstar set foot on the ladder of chart or commercial success only for the very fans that propelled them there in the first place lose faith. Supporters turn haters as belief of the genuine ‘realness’ of the artist fades and the sell-out tag weighs heavily. However, with the music industry now almost no longer existent, new rules are constantly being drawn as technology and accessibility continually evolves the market of music consumption. For the first time in history, it’s the punters and artists who primarily provide the drive for music careers, not pony-tailed pricks in Armani suits sat in executive suites.
Currently lighting up this brave new world of e-mailed YouTube links, retweeted Soundcloud URLs and ripped MP4’s is South Londoner English Frank. His heavy, stripped-down bass lines and piano melodies provide the foundations for a smooth yet bullet fast lyrical delivery, honest no-bullshit content laced with a hint of dark humour and a musical side swipe of soulful magic drawn from a love of early Michael Jackson and Sixties soul. Any promotional videos go instantly viral, his mix tapes are an anticipated event and his social media presence is immense, sprawling and acerbically brilliant.
His real-life stories, intelligent musings and shared experiences of tough living lend a level of authority to his lyrical content often lacking elsewhere in this oversubscribed genre
Refreshingly he’s also no grime-rhyming teenage wanksta either. He’s been around for years under the moniker Frantic Frank and well and truly has cut his teeth both in life experience and the underground rap scene. As with Skinnyman, a decade before him, his real-life stories, intelligent musings and shared experiences of tough living lend a level of authority to his lyrical content often lacking elsewhere in this oversubscribed genre.
Ultimately he is an artist worth investing your time in. Don’t believe the hype? Check out the stats alone. Over twelve thousand followers on Twitter, same again for ’likes’ on his Facebook page, over five thousand subscribers to his YouTube channel and online video content that regularly top a million views. More than all those figures though, he has taken the rap torch and blazed a trail through riot torn Britain. Perfectly soundtracking the anger and desperation of a generation struggling through the worst recession in living memory. Socially, politically and economically we may be back in the Eighties but, thanks to the likes of English Frank, musically we are very much on the front foot. With a host of singles already doing the YouTube rounds, a mix tape compilation due any day now and an album in the pipeline, 2012 looks to be the year that he crosses over into the mainstream. English Frank is coming, look out for him; he’ll be the angry one with the brilliant tunes.
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