Hak Baker’s music is almost as cockney as he is. His debut EP ‘Misfits’ is drenched in East London - its slang, culture and choicest swearwords. Since his first forays into music at 14 with grime collective B.O.M.B Squad, he has vigorously repped E14.
“We was just young boys looking for girls,” he recalls, “we wouldn’t really have any fans, just people who enjoyed the music.” But under his new solo guise, part radical punk-poet, part party starter, Baker has been winning fans left, right and centre (but largely on the left).
Nowhere is this more obvious than his triumphant two-night performance at Bethnal Green’s Working Men’s Club, right in the heart of the scene that birthed him. “It’s a special type of crowd,” he admits, staring around at an audience that includes friends and relations alongside an enthusiastic wave of new fans. “Yesterday was unbelievable. The lads and birds really showed us we were doing something right, so we’re just going to crack on.”
“Just crack on” is Baker’s favourite phrase. It’s a maxim that betrays an older, wiser approach to music than simply trying to score birds. At first he states his sole aim is “to deliver a message and enjoy myself and get paid,” before admitting that, given half the chance, he would love to incite a revolution “for the right reasons” at a show.
Hak Baker, you see, has a problem with authority. Whether it’s defying domineering bosses on ‘Like It Or Lump It’ or decrying the “billies with their truncheons” on ‘Conundrum’, his material portrays revulsion at the idea of being told what to do, something that the stint in prison which derailed his career the first time round certainly didn’t help to shake.
“100%, I don’t like them,” he spits, “I was born free, why should I have authority?” Baker is, admittedly, unafraid to dream big. When asked whether he could ever make it in America despite his strong cockney accent and general carpet C- bombing, he is confident that tracks like ‘Quasar’, a reference to an old laser tag place in East London, would translate well. “They’re going through the same shit, probably even worse. There we’d be talking about real fucking guns, not Quasar.”
Despite his calls for revolt, you only have to take a cursory listen to Baker’s lyrics to understand that he is much more than the angry young chap that dropped ‘B.O.M.B’. "We need an Eden for all human beings, Who wish to party until they feel peace,” he declares to an enraptured crowd.
Too right pal, too right.
WHERE: “Sunny” East London
WHAT: Livewire street folk
GET 3 SONGS: ‘Conundrum’, ‘7AM’, ‘L.I.O.L.I (Like It Or Lump It)’
FACT: Baker actually prefers paintballing to Quasar, as he likes to “feel shit”.
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Words: Josh Gray
Photography: Sophie Mayanne
Fashion: Josh Tuckley
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