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Loyle Carner's unhurried delivery makes him one of UK hip hop's brightest stars

We joined the hotly-tipped rapper in Berlin

  • Words: Sean Griffiths | Photos: Matthias Wehofsky
  • 10 February 2017

Rap’s had its fair share of unusual hook-ups. Who can forget Eminem hanging out with Elton John? Or Jay Z and Kanye’s seemingly insatiable desire to collaborate with Coldplay’s chief bore Chris Martin? But kitchen boffin Heston Blumenthal teaming with one of the UK’s brightest hip hop talents is new on us.

“He was meant to come to my show but I forgot to text him back,” says South Londoner Ben Coyle-Larner (‘Loyle Carner’ is a stage name taken from the way he used to pronounce his surname).

Rather than proof that Blumenthal has a newfound infatuation with UK hip hop, this unlikely friendship probably tells us a lot more about the 22-year-old wordsmith. Since emerging in late 2014 with the heartfelt ‘A Little Late’ EP, Carner has carved a niche for himself as the softly spoken, sensitive and socially conscious voice of UK hip hop, and used his burgeoning fame to launch a scheme to teach kids with ADHD how to cook.

“Heston’s just been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, so he was interested in what I’m doing,” he tells us. Right now though, Loyle’s attention is firmly focused on music.

We’re backstage at Berlin venue Lido on a drizzly Monday night, two months before the release of his debut album and a month into a five-week tour of the UK and Europe. Dressed in Dickies navy chinos and a Patagonia fleece, Loyle is fashioning a sandwich from the bread and cheese selection in the dressing room’s fridge, while his tour DJ, producer and general partner in crime Rebel Kleff plays a stack of old soul and funk vinyl that he’s just bought on a portable Numark turntable (“Fifty quid mate! Such a bargain.”)

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