Selected by: James Keith

Name: Franklyn

Where He’s From: Hackney, East London

When He Started: 2009

Genre: Hip-Hop

File Next To: Lord Apex, Emmavie, Hawk House, 808INK

Sounds like: “Not to sound cliché, but I think my sound is truly eclectic. This will be proven the more I release new material. I want my message to reach and challenge and inspire people from disparate walks of life, from the hood to people who are insulated from its realities and need to comprehend life from other perspectives. I realise that my sound has to be universal and experimental, rather than remain boxed into one genre that only some enjoy, so I combine grime flows and rap cadences with jazz-inspired musicality to make all sorts of music.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “I can’t remember a specific song—my memory’s not robust enough—but Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner was the first album I ever owned, and it really inspired me to write my own music for self-expression. Songs like ‘Cut ‘Em Off’ were super relatable for me, with Raskit citing Hackney—my home borough—as an area he socialises in.”

Youth worker, journalist and rapper, East London’s Franklyn is, more than anything else, a hard worker. What’s interesting though is that each of these three talents feed into each other. In all three roles, Franklyn Addo aims his efforts at worsening inequality and the intersections of racial and class, putting everything he has towards narrowing these gulfs and healing the divides. Whether it’s his lyrics or his bylines, Franklyn’s message is always one of encouragement and positivity, always offering solutions where he sees them. Take the play he wrote as part of BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought programme, which detailed the human consequences of inequality.

There’s also his recent “Who Franklyn Is” tune. A signature song in the purest sense, the introspective extract from his Archives EP pulled together all the different strands of his life. Musically, both his flow and the production referenced the Eski grime that soundtracked his youth. Lyrically, he got even deeper as he switches between verbal bravado and poetic observations on the rapid changes Hackney and East London are going through. Speaking on the release, Franklyn told TRENCH: “Since it had been so long since I’d released music publicly, Alfa Mist and I made ‘Who Franklyn Is’ to reintroduce myself to the world as an artist. I wanted to exhibit all the things that have shaped me—the fact that grime largely influenced my sound and writing, that my content is inspired by the realities I witnessed growing up in Hackney, and that my overall aim in everything I do, whether it’s music, youth work or journalism, is to make some kind of change.”

As for the future, it’s a case of onwards and upwards as Franklyn gathers more and more steam. There is, apparently, a treasure trove of music waiting to be released (“I’ve got so much new music on my hard drive that it’s hard to choose what to drop next,” he tells us). He’ll also be contributing to journalist Magdalene Abraha’s A Quick Ting On series with a book on grime’s legacy. “So,” he adds, “the next big goal is really just to do more activism and release more music that gets heard by the masses and becomes unavoidable. The music will always be meaningful, and the aim is to uplift, inspire and stimulate thought.”

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on November 06, 2019