Single Review/Essay: Loyle Carner – Ain’t Nothing Changed

By on Tuesday, 2nd May 2017 at 12:00 pm

Benjamin Gerard Coyle-Larner, better known by his stage name Loyle Carner, has had quite a year so far. The South London-born hip-hop musician released his debut album ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ in January 2017 to critical acclaim, as well as embarking on a sold out UK and European tour. Musically, Loyle Carner brings an organic, lyrically conscious form of hip-hop we haven’t heard too much of coming out the UK for some time, and often associated with seminal American artists such as Mos Def, De La Soul and Tribe Called Quest.

This is not to say Loyle Carner doesn’t sound intrinsically British, because he does. As soon as the vocal kicks in there is no mistaking that London accent, part of the newfound pride and prominence we have seen in the recent years of UK MCs rapping in their own accents and moving away from adopting a American twang. There is raw emotion and family grief laid bare in his lyrics as he raps over laid-back, often jazz-infused beats provided by DJ, producer and fellow wordsmith Rebel Kleff. There are no 140 bpm beats that the current grime resurgence has flooded the streets with, but mellow head- nodding beats that bring a relaxed, ‘feet up and put the kettle on’ vibe. Loyle Carner tells stories that conjure up inner city images of desperation, personal loss, love and tales of friends whose destiny seems written for them.

Previous single ‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’, originally released in 2015, is getting another airing, as is so often the case with artists who are received well beyond initial expectation. The track was re-released last Friday with its original video of an imagined Loyle Carner in his old age muttering the words ‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’ as he sips he tea, cooks and watches football. The stand out part of this composition is the mellow, jazz-tinged saxophone that runs though out the track, providing a melancholy that perfectly fits the lyrics of the repetitive circle life appears to move in around him. “I feel it but can’t conceal it see, this inner city responsibility’s killing me”. On this track, Loyle observes his environment, takes it in and spits it out through his sleepy, yet anything but tired bars. The track manages to breathe new life into UK hip-hop, while talking about a gloomy sense of life feeling stagnant: not an easy feat, but it works beautifully.


On this track, and indeed on album ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ as a whole, we hear a style free of any overly started masculine bravado that so many in the rap community seem to have built into the their fibre. Instead, when listening to Carner, we hear a vulnerability almost impossible for the listener to ignore. You get the sense that putting words to music is nothing but vital to Carner, an indispensable outlet that carries him though life. When we hear him rap on 2015 single release ‘BFG’; “Everyone says I’m fucking sad, of course I’m fucking sad I miss my fucking dad”, we get a sense of a young man who needs to air his emotions and is able to do so in a pure and honest way that attracts the sort of fanbase that Loyle has, ‘Loyal’ being the keyword. His last single release ‘The Isle of Arran’ exemplifies this personal tone in the powerful opening lines, “Know that I’ve been grieving, know that I’ve been holding out hoping to receive him, I’ve been holding out for G and he was nowhere to be seen when I was bleeding”. These are the words of a man who is willing to bear all and more, in this tale of young fatherhood, masculinity and personal memories of his granddad, moving the absent father stereotype around and showing a side of young fatherhood not so often portrayed.

With a string of new UK tour dates just announced throughout September and October, 2017 looks set to be an active year for the young hip-hop maestro. In an exciting time for UK urban music, Loyle Carner brings something unique and lyrically brave while drawing inspiration from the established traditions within hip-hop. And I, for one, feel better off for it.


‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’ is available now from AMF Records.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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