Hak Baker’s “Wobbles On Cobbles” Is A Masterclass
In Documenting Trouble, Strife & Trying To Crack On

What makes a great storyteller?

Is it just a case of flair, technical skill and a mad vocabulary, or does it run deeper than that? What about authenticity and vulnerability?

For me, the best storytellers are the ones who connect with their audiences by sharing their struggles, revealing those parts of themselves which would otherwise remain hidden. It’s that fearlessness which sets the great storytellers apart.

The UK scene has long been blessed with some of the best storytellers to touch mic; from the likes of Mike Skinner and Ricochet Klashnekoff, to Kano and Headie One, our cold island produces artists in the truest sense of the word, capable of painting the most vivid pictures in their own distinctive styles. But in a ‘choose your fighter’ scenario, if we’re talking honest, emotive storytelling, I’m choosing Hak Baker each and every time. His latest release, “Wobbles On Cobbles”, is a legit masterclass in documenting trouble, strife and trying to crack on and have a nice time despite it all. Written, produced and recorded by Hak before the pandemic kicked off, it’s the perfect track for these turbulent times.

Unfolding as a piece of spoken word over a stripped-down guitar and piano arrangement, “Wobbles On Cobbles” chronicles a series of “jumped up” weeks in his manor. The lovely simplicity of the melody leaves Hak’s words unashamedly exposed; there are no hiding places. But that is exactly what he wants: he wants us to feel what he’s feeling. It’s this shared feeling which connects us as listeners to our storyteller, while he walks us through the “peaks, troughs and wobbles” of life, with the poetic lyrical dexterity of a one-time grime sheller, guitar in hand. The G-Folk sound Hak has shaped is truly unique, subverting all convention and creating a lane in which he can speak his truths (“it’s how I see it / it’s how I’ve seen it,” he declares over the song’s gentle chords).

If you’re really from the ends, any ends, then the pictures Hak paints can’t fail to resonate; a pal’s court date lingering like a storm cloud; police constantly disturbing the peace; lads taking risks to line their pockets with a few notes for the weekend’s shenanigans, swallowing the old reflexes which insist a young buck needs to be knocked off his perch for trying it. There’s humanity behind each and every one of these images—they’re not cold, throwaway sketches. Vernon being locked up leaves his guys grieving and a baby boy without his old man. Haroon getting shifted for moving food doesn’t change the fact that he’s a good lad. The young buck trying it is a neighbour. The themes of loss, friendship and frustration are universal to all of us, part of the fabric of life itself.

Up in the mix of all the badness, Hak acknowledges, “I wouldn’t wanna be anywhere else, it’s puzzling / World knows there’s worse off problems.” Love for his manor underpins so much of Hak’s writing, and it charges the track with a healing, restorative power. Because, in spite of all the crud life throws at him, in spite of the trials and tribulations and grief, it never feels hopeless. You sense that spilling all that pain on the record helps Hak make sense of it all, and maybe even find a bit of peace amongst it.

Posted on May 18, 2020