Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer
For the uninitiated, Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer, has spent the last decade on a one man mission to bring manners back to popular culture. In so doing he has invented a new musical genre, "Chap-Hop", which attempts to reacquaint Hip-Hop with the Queen's English.
Taking to the stage with only his banjolele and a stiff upper lip for company, he has played nationwide, as well as Europe and the USA. Performing his own unique ditties on subjects as diverse as tea, pipe smoking, cricket and some rather deviant sexual practices, he combines his own compositions with some more well-known pieces from the world of Hip-Hop, re-worked in true Chap-Hop fashion.
Having appeared on the radio shows of Marc Riley, Steve Lamacq, Tom Robinson, Scott Mills and Rob Da Bank, he was also nominated by the Guardian in the top ten things to see at last years Glastonbury. And to show he is not just a comedic facade, he has also appeared on stage with DJ Yoda and remixed Rizzle Kicks hit single When I Was A Youngster. Having released his new CD "The Tweed Album", he recently undertook a highly successful residency at the Edinburgh Fringe with his one man show "Can't Stop. Shan't Stop". He is now hard at work producing his first literary opus, 'Mr B's First Book Of Chap-Hop'.
So I thought it was high time I got the jalopy out and took a ride down to his country retreat in deepest Surrey to pay him a visit. Having got past the over bearing attentions of his man servant Carshalton, I was able to share a relaxing G&T with the great man in his drawing room, whilst probing him intimately!
Good day Mr B. How does one find you today? For the uninitiated, you invented "Chap Hop". Would you care to explain exactly how this came about?
Chap-Hop had been in the old bonce for years, but, as is the case with these sorts of things, rather stayed there for a while, until one afternoon. Pop! out it came in the shape of a ditty called 'A Piece Of My Mind'
It is clear from your video for "Chap Hop History" you are a long time aficionado of rap music, sampling as you do Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC, Beastie Boys, Eminem etc. What got a man of your social standing into this type of music?
Well, the sheer freedom of the whole thing. A chap can go anywhere with a bit of hip-hop in him.
Your weapon of choice is the banjolele. What prompted you to choose this instrument and does it make you an axe-hero in the upper classes?
I suppose it does, as well as lower class people of t't't'tnorth too it seems! It's just a sillier sounding ukulele.
You have a song "Timothy" on your album O.G.(Original Gentleman) that appears to be about a well known dance DJ. You seem to be implying that he was from a privileged background, privately educated, yet changed his accent and vocabulary to sound more "street". What prompted you to write this diatribe? Is it about Judge Jules?
Old Julius has never tried to hide his poshness. No it's about the old Big Dog himself. Lovely chap. Always insists on doing the washing up if he comes over for dinner. Rather messes up my butler Carshalton's system though.
How do the other members of the Hip Hop community treat you? Would you say that well bred gentleman are the norm in this genre of music? I have heard a rumour that some member of NWA were educated at Harvard!
Ice Cube has a degree, this much I do know. The former editor of Vibe magazine in the United States told me once that I was 'the only interesting thing happening in hip-hop now', so I shall take that as a truth and no mistake.
Rap music is notorious for feuds and I believe you recently had a spat with Professor Elemental. Have matters been settled or are we likely to see a rerun of the Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. situation?
We did call Chap-Hop Armistice day last November, but we're a couple of fiery coves with a passion for what we do, so you never know what might happen.
I note that, on your recent opus "The Tweed Album", you parody Crazy Nights by Kiss. Were you ever tempted to put your enormous talent into rock music, say at the time of Indie or Brit Pop?
I have done a 'Madchester' medley, which people seem to enjoy in t't't'tnorth.
Similarly, on the same album, you parody the "Great Escape" theme tune. With much debate about the role of Britain in Europe, can I have your opinion of Johnny Foreigner?
I think you're thinking of the long player 'I Say' rather than The Tweed Album, but I shall let you off. I'm all for Johnny Foreigner, always responds well to being shouted at slowly in English.
My inspiration comes from many sources old chap, but telling all is for another day.
With your tweed attire, perfectly waxed moustache and impeccable manners, how do you feel about the calibre of audience you attract. I'm thinking here about some of the more eccentric members of the steampunk community?
Do you know what, everyone seems to be rather lovely at a Mr.B show. They aspire to good manners, so are generally speaking utterly above reproach. There are a few rowdy ones of course, but I just put that down to youthful good spirits and a lack of practice with liquid good spirits.
With your mighty fine new CD "The Tweed Album" out in all fine gramophone establishments, what's next for Mr B? Recording the follow up, touring or just retreating to the country house in Surrey?
I have just finished the next long player, entitled 'Can't Stop, Shan't Stop' which will be available in November, I've just returned from the colonies and from the Edinburgh Fringe, so Chap-Hop education knows no boundaries. Also, there will, with any luck, be my first book to look forward to this Christmas. So it's all go and what not!
Exactly where can we purchase your musical wares?
Compact Discs and other merchandise can be purchased from gentlemanrhymer.com or, if you are that way inclined, on itunes. Just look me up and say pip-pip!
Just for an old punk like me, are you ever likely to give a Chap Hop makeover to any punk songs?
I have just this very moment been playing 'Polite Riot' on my ukulele. Watch this space sir!
Anything else you'd like to say to the masses?