Reflectors of The Times UK: Music.


Ralph Hardy Growing Pains

From my perspective, in music there are five overarching elements which affect the impact of the overall result. Of course you can either agree or disagree.

The sound

This refers to the production of the music; what it sounds like. The producer’s creativity. The artist’s influences in the sound that they’re creating. The genre, or the lack of. The feel of the music. It also refers to the actual technical quality of the sound (in recording, mixing, mastering, engineering etc.)


This refers to the lyrics or the message that an artist is putting out. What is the artist saying? Who does their message represent? Who are they speaking to? What impact does their message have on its listeners? Where does their music stand in society? Is the story they’re telling true to themselves? IS THE ARTIST HONEST? Why should we press play on this particular artist and not the billions of others that the internet allows to arise like popcorn in a microwave everyday? Because boy… sometimes the music industry really does look like popcorn in a microwave. At the end you have a bag of fluffy popcorn in the centre, burnt popcorn around the perimeter and seeds at the bottom.

If you were born, raised in and reside in London, why do you sound like you were conceived in and dragged through the streets of Brooklyn, sat next to Biggie Smalls’ son in high school and got caught up whippin’ and selling crack to purchase that Cadillac that you cruise in? It is a lie. A lie that is like an elephant in a room. We can all see it and if not, Specsavers does free eye test vouchers. No excuses. There is a huge difference between influence and imitation. The artist’s perspective is extremely important.


It is all well and good being a rapper with bars but if you don’t know how to deliver them effectively, they’re almost as good as useless. You’ve got to consider how you use your voice to express yourself. Know your character and present him like you would in a game of Top Trumps, strengths and skills at the forefront. How much have you read into your craft? How do you plan to transition from hobbyist to professional?


So you’ve got hits and then you’ve got classics, what differentiates the two? All of the above.


It goes with out saying. When a person genuinely cares about and loves what they do, they put their heart and soul into it and it shows. You can feel the difference, it is why I say music is spiritual.

The greatest, in my opinion, have considered every single element. They understand their direction within every element. Where a Great is weak, they will practice until they see strength. Reflectors of the times are consistent and they are progressive, they are in the game for the long haul and that comes with time, a lot of patience and growing pains… With that being said, here in the UK, when it comes to artists on the rise. When it comes to music. Who is reflecting our times?



Since 2012 Ralph Hardy has been curating a movement named after a colloquial term birthed in London; “nang”. Nang is a word that was born amongst the people and it spread amongst the people and so the only way that I can define it is to use synonyms. Nang is a positive term it is good, it’s sweet, it’s wicked, it’s cool and it is sexy. It can be applied to such an array of circumstances but they are almost always actively positive. The word is nostalgic in the sense that it isn’t used as often anymore but ‘NANG’ have ensured that it, and the culture that it was conceived by, lives on. It lives on in the regular raves/parties thrown and in the radio shows that have aired on Hoxton fm, Bang Radio, are currently on Radar Radio and can be listened back to on Soundcloud and Mixcloud. 

“Nang: taking you to a place that you’ve never been before but it sounds familiar”

Most recently Ralph Hardy, via NANG, presented ‘Growing Pains’. A compilation of high standards that is one of the best displays of British talent to date. Twenty-three tracks, all good music. Thirty-nine artists and counting (including producers and Mic Lo who mastered all of the tracks but one), all authentic and genuinely talented. All performing artists are British. All artists worth knowing, worth listening to and worth referring to for great British music. I must say however, that if Growing Pains is a display of the best of British talent then 808INK was most definitely missing from it. That does not discredit the work by any means but 808INK should’ve been on there. Growing Pains II maybe? *insert emoji eyes here*

“In the somewhat struggle to be better, you constantly find yourself saying ‘it can only get better’, if your aim and journey is an honest one. Not everyone is out for the same reason so in the growth, you’re likely to find out the hard way but there is no coincidence in the rose growing from the concrete.
This is to highlight there are greats amongst us ahead of their time, doing it for the art. Those making your new favourite record trying to survive, creatives fighting to bring you their story. We’ve been out here for a couple summers now catering for those that will hear so this project, if you’re unfamiliar, highlights the sound we’re about, the energy we’re putting out and the growing pains we’ve been through.”

(Quick information hijack: 808INK’s ‘Grubble’ single had its radio premiere on the Nang Selection via Radar Radio this evening).



I was recently informed of the coming of a relentless individual that goes by the name of Billy, he’s coming home soon and with vigour he aims to reinstall the individuality, the integrity, the pride and the unapologetic attitude that he feels like a large chunk of his city is losing. Take ‘Billy’s Home’ as a final notice from the bailiffs, written as a warning to those who are getting too comfortable or too complacent. When the bailiff’s come ‘round there is no more time for negotiation, you cannot hide behind the sofa when the bailiffs come around. You cannot hide behind a false identity when the bailiff’s come around. It is time to move. It is get up and stand for something or get out time. I’ve heard what he has to say and I personally cannot wait for you to all to meet him. Billy is an alter-ego that causes discomfort, but with discomfort comes change and by unleashing the Billy within us we can graft towards shifting the times that we’re living in.

“No soul in my city Billy, everything’s so grey in my city Billy”.

I shan’t say much more, yet. Now, 808INK is a name you may recognise from the project that they released in the November of 2013 – ‘An Artistic Piece’. The duo consists of Mumblez Black Ink and 808Charmer. 808Charmer is an excellent producer, sound engineer and musician. Excellent. Why? Refer to the five elements.

Julie Adenuga.

Starting out on Rinse FM in 2010, launching the televised PLAYit series in 2013 and soaring into doing what she does best on Apple’s global radio station – Beats 1. Julie Adenuga has announced a compilation, another flawless example of great British talent. Pre-order here.

These four individuals, from where I am sat have been grafting consistently for a long time and are contributing greatly to music in the UK. Not to say that they are the only ones, I really have to emphasise on consistency and the fact that for many artists their journey is yet to really unfold. I fear speaking too soon and writing words that apply now without the knowledge of the whether they will still apply in 2, 3, 5 years to come. Especially in regards to music and reflecting the times, the two hold a lot of weight. Anyway! There are many other artists on the rise who are shifting the direction of music in the UK and/or have produced individual significant works (many of them on Growing Pains and on the PLAYit compilation) and I’ll name a few… PBGR, TinymanEtta Bond, Neverland Clan, Kwollem, A2, Connie Constance, Jordan JamesLash Van Negro’s ‘Buggin’… you can be influenced by trap music and still stay true to your environment, it is very possible:

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