If you look up the definition of “pushing boundaries”, you’ll instantly be met with 808INK’s discography. Despite hailing from London (or “Lundun” as they prefer), the duo’s fiery tracks stray from grime or any other take on UK hip hop and further still from their American counterparts. Feeling disconnected from the London grime scene, they created their conceptual home-town of “Lundun” which separates them from their capital-rap peers. “It’s like a state within a city; it’s a province, we’re not trying to wear the London kit. We live in London, but we are Lundun.” explains rapper Mumblez Black Ink..
The pair believe that when it comes to music, there are no rules. With producer 808Charmer having a reggae and psych background as well as having toured with the likes of Tinie Tempah and M.I.A. as a live drummer, while Mumblez developed his vocal style from copying 50 Cent’s ad-libs, 808INK’s sound can’t be pigeon-holed.
The pair continuously team up with director/videographer Pure Anubi$ to create their unique videos which have earned them their reputation of going against the grain in regards to stereotypical hip hop promos. Mumblez commented “People have red cups and pills in their videos, but that is not the culture over here. The thing that people 16 to 25-years-old can identify with is eating chicken and chips.” They deem their visual content just as vital as the music itself in taking their portrayal of Lundun to the next level through the use of unambiguous locations and Anubi$’ unconventional style.
They dropped their debut mixtape an Artistic piece in 2013 which saw them hit the ground running. Striving for success, they would record the hazy and diverse beats in Charmer’s garage after a long day at work or university, persevering for another eleven hours on empty stomachs out of pure passion.
2015’s follow-up Billy’s Home is a conceptual album that tells the story of Lundun through the eyes of protagonist Billy who represents everyone who feels lost and is frustrated with the city’s “soullessness”. This was visually accompanied by music videos for ‘Crooked .Bad.’, ‘Q’d Up’ and ‘Suede Jaw’ which all use shots either from Billy’s perspective or fly-on-the-wall footage to tell his story.
A year later, they branched out further in their third release Hungry as they explored the potential in collaborations, ranging from producer JD. Reid, rappers Sam Wise and Daniel OG, and singers Kahlia Bakosi and IDEH. The break-through album was met with a positive reception as The Gateway referred to it as “magnificent” while commenting “The performances display significant growth and ability from both artists.”
This March they released their latest full-length When I’m About, You’ll Know, marking a huge move for the duo as they work with major label Island Records. This record also gained them regular spins on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra as well as Beats 1 and Rinse FM. Part 2 of this hit album is also due for release later this month, featuring lead single ‘Gummy Bears’ which has already amassed over 100K Spotify streams.
Catch 808INK on tour next month in London and Manchester witch tickets on sale here!808ink / introducing