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At the top of the year we met up with the self-proclaimed “gulliest duo in the world” 808INK in the heart of Deptford, South East London. Consisting of producer 808Charmer and rapper Mumblez Black Ink, they’re creating music they’d prefer to come under no genre whatsoever, but if you feel the need to, let’s call it 808INK. Creating banger after banger straight out of 808Charmers garage come studio, 808INK are building momentum, with the assistance of their album, Billy’s Home, which dropped last year, packing heat like “Q’d Up,” “Medium rare.,” “Crooei .Bad” and “Suede Jaw.” It’s basically full of fire influenced by just about everything. Expect the unexpected, there’s deathly basslines, soulful cuts, random breaks and tempos switch like there’s no tomorrow and it’s all voiced by an overriding Lundun narrative.
2016 has already witnessed a host of live shows, plus festival bookings are picking up pace and, as suggested by the duo, the releases keep on coming too in the shape of DSSY, Peach, Blah De Frog and CHUBBY clocking up steady listens on their Soundcloud. We had a pretty long chat with 808INK about honestly everything but their actual music, as we delved into how they view music as a whole and the culture that surrounds it; why they’re happy to shout out Lundun and not London, why 90’s babies have no clear identity and how people just don’t know how to party anymore.
On where their names came from
808Charmer: In my schooldays I was a bit of a ladies man but even before that my grandmother used to look after me a lot. When she would come back from work, I’d be like, ‘oh grandma your hair looks nice’ and she’d be like you likkle charmer. But I hated seeing produced by Charmer, it was dead; but I play the drums so I took that 808 and it sounded more like a title.
Mumblez Black Ink.: My name was either going to be Grumpy or Mumblez because I mumble a lot and I’m always in some kind of bad mood. Mumblez had a z in it, which was sick. So at college when Charmer was adding his 808, I was adding Black Ink on my name because it represents your legacy. If you put permanent ink on something, it’s not going anywhere; it’s about leaving your mark. I put that on my name with the full stop because that’s my title and I want to be respected.
On the start of 808Ink
808Charmer: I was at a video shoot for an artist I was working with at the time and after the video shoot, everyone was freestyling. Mumblez was sick and when I looked for him he had gone. So I was asking around for him and eventually I saw him down the street and ran after him, even though I don’t run after anyone. I said we should work, so we exchanged details but I said I do charge for beats though and he was okay with it. When it came to the session and what he wanted me to do, which was cut up a sample, I was like I’m not gonna charge you for this. That’s when I started making my own stuff but I didn’t want to rap and he was a rapper, so that’s how it all started.
On being compared to US artists
Mumblez Black Ink.: I don’t like it when people try to find the UK equivalent of US talent; it’s so jarring. That’s when you start to find every part of the UK scene being compared, like, they’re our answer to A$AP Mob, now I don’t need to buy into them because we already have A$AP Mob. You will forever stunt the growth. I hate seeing 808Ink, they’re dark, they’re depressed, they’re like Clams Casino, etc.
On how they’d write about themselves
Mumblez Black Ink.: I would say 808Ink are two artists that hail from Deptford, South East London. They make music. Listen to it because I swear to God they will change the world and the generations beneath them that want to make music. They are starting something with their peers and their inner circle. Stop trying to find references fam. People are trying to maintain traffic so they put these stupid titles to make it click bait. And don’t just do a write up now, just in case they blow, you can say I got them first. I’m not like the deception of a link, where you call me because my Instagram profile looks good. You call me here because you like the music and the music still sounds good.
On what they’ve learned about the other side of music
808 Charmer: There’s no money in music when it comes to London. There’s no point in premieres. You don’t make money off of shows in London; you can make money but do not think that it is going to move your mum out of the house. Put that money in an ISA and hope it yields some interest. UK money is enough for you to still live at home and then probably finance a nice car but that’s it.
On 90’s babies having no clear identity
Mumblez Black Ink.: People keep on trying to beg UK hip hop, which is just like shush, stop it. The genre of 808Ink is 808Ink. Our generation don’t own sh*t, we don’t own grime because we consumed that, and then garage was even older than that, hip hop was the generation before that. Your parents would have worn an Afro and flares through their teenage years. We’ve been through it all; black men rapping over old white man beats like Tinie Tempah and Elton John, shutter shades, hoodies under the blazer, white jeans with white Air Force 1’s, the chequered shirt around the waist, Akademics and Avirex tracksuits, funky house, afrobeats, UK MC’s over bashment beats, replacing A’s with V’s, red cups, blue cups, orange cup; everything but the white cup they sell in your corner shop. Now we’re in dreadlocks, we’re in it so hard. We don’t have an identity.
On the importance of Lundun
Mumblez Black Ink.: The main reason why I started saying Lundun instead of London is because I can only talk for my friends and I. People would ask me what the slang is in London but I don’t know, I only know what we say. If you go even around South East from here in Deptford to Peckham, the pace is different, they’re chilled and Deptford just moves faster. In London everything is so dispersed and separated you can only talk for your friendship group. That’s why I can talk for Lundun.
On stepping things up in 2016
Mumblez Black Ink.: We’re stepping up our release rate because consumers don’t like to have one thing to appreciate and I get it because it’s an obsession. You’ve got to play the market, there’s no point having quality and it only drops once a year.
808 Charmer: Because music has become so easy to make the quality has gone down and now it’s so easily digestible.
Mumblez Black Ink.: A lot of things nowadays, if you think of your best idea and do the sh*t version of that, that’s what, will go off. When you’re not intimidated by something you have no problem inviting it in. It’s something that’s not nice to admit because it makes you look like a pussy. When it comes to urban music, or black music, the passion for music is completely different here.
808 Charmer: With London there is so many cultures that people just get behind their own. I wouldn’t wave the flag and say I’m British, I don’t feel like I’m British. I don’t think David Cameron has me in mind when he’s talking about the success of young people. I feel like a lot of youth feel like that. Then when you go back to where you’re actually from that starts a whole other segregation because it’s, well I’m Jamaican or I’m Nigerian. These things do have an effect on how people support artists because people think I don’t need to support you because you don’t like the things I like anyway and you can’t relate to me; whereas in America they just think we’re all American.
On why they want to ban phones at live shows
Mumblez Black Ink.: I can’t be mad because in this city, music is not the majority of people’s first priority; it’s money and doing what they feel like doing in the moment. They’ll come and see you live and just stand at your show.
Black Anubi$: It feels like church when you didn’t have a phone or your game boy. I like it when a show feels more real, you want to come to a party, sweat off the place and feel like you’re slumped as f*ck when you wake up the next day.
Mumblez Black Ink.: I wish at our shows you would have to sign in your phone on entry. At a recent gig people was snapping me like I was someone and I remember moving because I was thinking, I don’t wanna be in a snap and I thought they were trying to get the background but the camera followed me.
Even I tried to snap us all performing on stage and DanielOG slapped my phone in my lip twice because I was trying to Snapchat. Just pull out an actual camera bro.
On being in charge of your own destiny
808 Charmer: This whole UK thing has become so cheap; I remember when I was younger and watched Timbaland and Aaliyah on a red carpet and thought wow. I don’t even know if I’m going to get an award. It’s all about DIY. I make music for myself and to make money because I know people will buy it. I’m not doing it to get signed, I’m trying to use this as a tool, and it’s leverage. All it takes is one hit.
Black Anubi$: We try to lead by example in that we put a lot of our own money into this. Every genre that came out of London has been DIY. Nowadays we’ll create our own award shows.
Mumblez Black Ink.: This industry is too informal. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
On the growing requirement of the co-sign
Black Anubi$: In terms of this understanding of where we’re at right now and being in this music world that people don’t really care about too much, our generation is difficult.
Mumblez Black Ink.: It’s so peak but you’ve got to be under a man, you’ve got to wait for the co-sign. It’s weird. It’s like you’re waiting for someone to say it’s cool. I started wearing Fila a while back; in the beginning of 2014 I sourced vintage pieces, clothes and kicks…
Black Anubi$: Then I copped a pair and I thought if we were to wear them everywhere we go, what would happen? So I don’t care what anyone says Mumblez and I brought back Fila! We need something that transcends where we’re all from that’s why we have Lundun.
Mumblez Black Ink.: The f*ck it mentality has gone the wrong way. It has gone to, ‘F*ck it I’m just trying to be like you bro’. People need to grow and build some character.