With Grime / hip hop artist Bashy about to star in highly anticipated new film Shank, and Plan B and Scorzayzee having recently worked on movie projects, there seems to be a growing trend for UK artists moving into the film arena.
Anna Nathanson asks; does this raise their profiles, or divert the attention away from their music?
“Rap don’t pay the bills, so I seek another way”, professes Scorzayzee in the song Voyage.
With conventional UK hip hop getting largely overshadowed by a commercial pop take on the sound, original musicians from the genre are looking for other ways to make money, gain recognition and remain in the public eye.
In 2006, Plan B emerged on the scene with the brilliantly gritty album Who Need Actions When You Got Words. Whilst this generated a substantial buzz at the time, it slowly died down, and he remained quiet for some years, albeit a supporting role in the 2008 film Adulthood, to which he contributed a few tracks.
Fast forward four years and he is back on the scene stronger than ever, after securing a starring role alongside the veteran actor Michael Caine in the iconic Harry Brown.
From as early as 1998, Scorzayzee has been hugely respected on the underground hip hop scene thanks to his work with Nottingham-based crew Out Da Ville and then later for his solo music. He then retired from the hip hop game circa 2003, for what would be a five-year hiatus.
Last year saw him appear in his first film, the comedy Le Donk And Scor-Zay-Zee. Judging by user comments on social media platforms such as Myspace and Youtube, starring in the film has contributed in raising his profile and bringing him to further public attention.
“Bin listening to bare of scorz since seeing the Le donk and scorz film”, says one user on Youtube, illustrating that the film has provided the artist with new fans who were previously unaware of him.
Another user, on Myspace, says, “Scorz my Favorite rapper in a film now! Respect man!! I'm seeing it!”. This indicates that going down this route has strengthened and solidified the admiration of existing fans as well.
Another advantage of being associated with a film project is the opportunity it affords in getting your music out there via this medium. Both Plan B and Scorzayzee have used their presence on the big screen to contribute songs to the soundtracks, and Bashy is also set to do so for Shank.
Plan B achieved his first top 10 hit with End Credits from Harry Brown, and he recently told socceram.com that at the premier of the film, Michael Caine himself approached him and said he “loved the song”.
On Scorzayzee’s Myspace, there is also interest in the music featured in his film, with one user asking, “What’s your track over the ending credits of LeDonk!? gotta get my hands on that”.
In an interview with Simon Jablonski, Scorzayzee is asked whether he worries that people might think that he is “not a genuine musician”, as a result of being part of such a film. He responds that although some may not take him seriously now, those that don’t already know him as a rapper could easily find this out by his online presence.
“I have to thank the team for putting me in the film because it’s got me through doors that I probably couldn’t walk through on my own”, he has said in another interview.
There will always be those that argue that artists who get into films risk this overshadowing their musical career. But it seems that for Plan B and Scorzayzee, their profiles have definitely been raised as a result of this very move.
Stay Too Long, the first song Plan B has done since making the film, has reached the national top 10 and been on the A-List of both the BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra playlists.
Similarly, Luv Me, Scorzayzee’s first offering since his screen debut, has been generating heat on the streets and was recently playlisted on BBC 1Xtra.
Whether Bashy will enjoy a similar elevation of status as a result of his appearance in Shank is yet to be known, but judging by the hype surrounding the film, it wouldn’t be such a surprise.