Just when we thought Drake had cornered the market on emotional rap, south London’s Ben Coyle-Larner aka Loyle Carner surprised us with his painfully intimate rhymes. His debut EP A Little Late covers his grief and subsequent responsibilities after his stepfather passed, giving into a vulnerability young men of color aren’t often afforded. Carner sought to be a creative in all forms, getting a drama scholarship to the prestigious Brit School and starting on a degree in drama at university. Now when he works on his music videos, he’s both the actor and director, becoming immersed in the details of different shots.
This inner city responsibility is killin’ me
In his latest single “Ain’t Nothing Changed,” he speaks of a very real anxiety about being a young provider, looking out for his younger brother and mother. The track’s smooth sax and boom bap beat make you forget the weight of what he’s rapping about but not for too long. It’s a characteristic of most of his songs. He ropes you in with an easygoing beat while his words make you wince. We can thank his close friend and collaborator/producer Rebel Kleff for that.
When we first heard Carner, we thought of King Krule, another inner city youth who isn’t afraid to be raw and confessional. In fact, they were school mates and Archy Marshall influenced Carner’s entry into recorded music. He also introduced him to Rejjie Snow, a relationship that would result in their breakthrough collab on “1992.” He’s gone on to work with Kwes, Kate Tempest, Tom Misch and Kiko Bun.
As UK grime is making its way to the U.S. via Skepta and Little Simz, Loyle Carner hopes the attention on UK rap in general will lead others to discover his work. We’re certainly watching and waiting for his debut album.