Graham “G” Hastings sits in a basement surrounded by drying T-shirts, scowling into his webcam. It’s just him, as two Young Fathers – Ally and Kayus – are missing. “We’re all Juniors,” explains G in a broad Scottish accent; each shares the name of their father.
Despite forming in Edinburgh, the group is a cultural melting-pot. Kayus was born in the ‘Burgh to Nigerian parents, and has lived in Nigeria and the States before returning to his birthplace. G himself pertains from the gloomy Drylaw housing scheme, while Ally was born in Monrovia, Liberia. He left during the war when he was four, relocating to the wind-ridden Lothian climes.
The trio first met in the bass-quaking sweat pit of Edinburgh’s Bongo Club, an event that played out as some kind of cult initiation. “We were in this circle where people were dancing, so I remember I was introduced to them and we just shook hands, nae one said anything, we just shook hands and danced. Three hours went past and it wasn’t until after that when we decided to do something,” G remembers.
Going on to play open-mic hip-hop nights in the capital, they refused to conform to convention. “We would do structured songs with arrangements whereas everybody else would be battling for like f*cking four hours or whatever, and we would come up with a MiniDisc of beats I’d made. We would just do it as a big f*ck you to them. We revelled in annoying people who just wanted to rap for ages.”
G is keen, however, to stress that the group aren’t straight-up hip-hop: “I think it’s cos we rap, people always see us as hip-hop, but for us to start a song and know what the genre’s gonna be by the end of it, that’s like a sin.”
In fact, they’re adamant that they’re pop boys. “WE ONCE THOUGHT WE HAD A TOPPA THE CHART RADIO SMASH RECORDED ON A KARAOKE BOX,” reads their Tumblr.
But their latest offering, ‘Tape Two’ (the follow-up, unsurprisingly, to ‘Tape One’; find the Clash review here), sounds a little like Death Grips’ MC Ride meets WHY?. Which, of course, is no bad thing at all.
- - -
- - -
What: Darkly melodic rap, cloudy instrumentals
Get 3 Songs: ‘Deadline’, ‘Romance’, ‘I Heard’ (video above)
Unique Fact: Ally remembers a time during the war in Liberia when a missile exploded outside the church he was in with his mum and he took shelter under a table, surrounded by broken glass.
- - -
Words: Felicity Martin
Photo: Neil Bedford
Get the best of Clash on your iPhone - download the app here