Yxng Bane is not your average university dropout. Just a couple of years ago, he was settling in to study economics with banking at the University of Greenwich. That was until his manager, G FrSH, called him up with an idea that would prove to be life changing.
Fast forward a year or so, and Yxng Bane’s vocal flip of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’ has had the official seal of approval from the world’s favourite ginger guitar strummer, clocked tens of millions of streams, and helped launch the young rapper’s career into a whole new league - including MOBO nominations, a top 10 chart appearance, and a spot on the BBC’s Sound Of 2018 longlist.
“I had no expectations of it doing what it did at all,” says Bane. Before that, he was playing life cautiously - music was fun but uni was a solid back-up, part of a lifelong strategy of taking calculated risks. Now, he says, he’s sitting on more than 100 unreleased tracks, all recorded within the last year.
“I’ve always been treading on thin ice,” he explains, “I’ll always put a foot in where it’s dangerous, but I’ll keep a foot out too.” This approach stands in contrast with his clearly optimistic outlook - the only time he’s not beaming is when the camera comes out and he stares down the lens, playing at being the moody rap star before creasing into laughter - but may have been born from a life of setbacks. He refers to himself as the “heartbreak kid”, which is also the name of a forthcoming project and accompanying tour: “My whole life, I’ve always wanted to help people around me - and a lot of the time I get let down.”
But this pattern appears to be shifting: his manager jokes that he’s quickly becoming the heartbreaker among his fans. As momentum gathers behind his unique brand of melodic rap and Afrobeats, the cautious approach is falling away: “Now it’s just tunnel vision; don’t even look back, left or right,” he says. “It’s not about staying at the top - there is no top. There is no ceiling, you just keep going.”
WHERE: Canning Town, East London
WHAT: UK Afrobeats with a melodic rap hook
GET 3 SONGS: ‘Froze’, ‘Never Change Me’, ‘Fine Wine (ft. Kojo Funds)’
FACT: He’s named after the mask-wearing Batman villain, though he admits he’s never seen a Batman movie in his life.
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Words: Will Pritchard
Fashion: Josh Tuckley
Photography: Sophie Mayanne
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