In Conversation With: Guvna B
We caught up with the rapper, author and football pundit on the back of the release of the music video for his song with D Double E, Very Original and the release of the deluxe edition of everywhere + nowhere.
Meeting Guvna B, “call me Issac” is a slightly full circle moment for me. I remember being in Sixth Form and hearing that Guvna was coming into the block to speak to students and perform a little; my friends educating me on his 2008 song Kingdom Skank (by the way I was not in Sixth Form in 2008, it was years later). I was intrigued by his sound, journey and overall the message he had to share with the world, so it was all the more exciting when I found out that The Floor had been given the opportunity to interview Issac alongside the release of his latest visuals.
“We had to keep it simple,” Isaac tells me via Zoom. “We shot on an estate and the director Femi Ladi had this great idea to do it in one take.”
This new m/v is simplistic and yet highly impactful. Directed by Femi Ladi (Ghetts, Pa Salieu, Kwaye, HP) and filmed in one long shot, Issac and D Double E walk around an estate whilst rapping about growing up on ‘the block’ and how this has shaped young people, themselves included. The video and song (itself) give way to a wider message which hopes to tackle the growing concern of youth violence which has risen in London. At the end of the video a black screen shares the message, “This isn’t exclusive to one side of the community, it’s not just a black issue or a white issue, this problem involves us all.”
Issac is known for tackling issues head on, from speaking publicly about the things he’s faced such as the passing of his father, to wider societal issues such as toxic masculinity, he believes that it's important to be open in his journey to help encourage others and help people feel like they can relate to him. His most recent book, entitled Unspoken: Toxic Masculinity and How I Faced the Man Within the Man deals with the processes that came with grieving for his father, “It was cathartic and quite therapeutic, because I'm not the best at processing my emotions. It started out because I thought let me get these words down on paper and then later on a publisher came to me and said, ‘Have you ever thought about writing a book?’, they thought it would really help people.”
Released earlier this year, the book has allowed for another layer of Issac to be given to the world; a side that is the same yet so different from the Issac known as ‘Guvna B’ in the rap world. And he’s made decisive distinctions in this album too. From gospel to love songs for his wife, this album blends genres as well as emotions.
When I asked Issac how his wife reacted to hearing Michael Kyle he said, “That was cool. I grew up watching My Wife and Kids, so it was cool to have that reference in there. I think in the music world with fans, not that I've got loads and loads of fans,” he laughs. “There's always people singing your praises. So most likely the people closest to you might not feel as important, I think it's good for her to know how much she means to me and that I'm encouraged by her. I think she reacted quite well to it.”
The album touches a range of genres that appeals to all music lovers. I had to ask if the tracklist order was a deliberate choice when it came to the final curation, “We're all in pretty tough situations.” Issac tells me.
“But attitude is everything. And it's the kind of attitude that you know in these situations is going to make us stronger people or tells us how we're going to get from one day to the next, and gives us courage to face the day. The album gets really uplifting, we get some gospel tones and stuff like that. And then it gets mature, but then we’ve got to pick the energy up again. So we introduce some Garage inspired stuff or some Grime inspired stuff. I think it's just about provoking emotion and taking people on a bit of a journey. It's always led by the content as well, not really the sound.”
As well as being encouraged by those around him he has also become something of a ‘spiritual leader’ amongst a younger generation, “I’ll be on road and someone will tell me ‘Guvna, I’ve been listening to you for ages!’ or that my 2012 mixtape really helped them out.” Issac is humble in his understatement of the impact he’s had on young lives around him.
He believes that the next step in his journey (something he’s been doing already) is to “look out for young MCs and rappers that have the same positive message, and think about how I can support them and use my influence to do something that's bigger than just myself. I think it would be a shame to end all I’ve done as Guvna B, without making that step. I've got to look at keeping the door open.”
Check out Guvna B's latest visuals for Say Less:
Tickets for the everywhere + nowhere Tour are available now via guvnab.com