Q & A with Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer
Chap-Hop's leading man
For those of you that haven't yet had the privilege of meeting the genre chap-hop, allow me to introduce you: It is rap, but not as we know it. The hip-hop tempo is there and the templates remain but the words themselves bare more of a resemblance to poetry than to an urban drawl.
Take for example the song Timothy, by Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer: it follows the traditional rap formula of one artist taking issue with a public figure (in this case, one Timothy Westwood). This song contains what I personally consider to be one of the finest put-downs in any piece of music:
"I nearly spilled my tea into my saucer
when somebody called you the millennium Chaucer.
Of course you're not, that's my bloody job,
Your grammar's appalling and you sound like a guttersnipe street-yob."
Put simply comparing Chap-Hop to conventional rap a bit like a Bentley Mulsanne turning up to a street race (and winning).
Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of the genre- recognised for his trademark waxed moustache, glasses and banjolele. And with his fine suits and love of all things vintage we thought he would be the ideal candidate to explain his look and sound.
Picollecta: How would you describe your dress sense?
Mr. B, The Gentleman Rhymer: Chap-Hop. The music and the dress sense are as one.
P: Presumably the sound for Chap-Hop came before the look, when did you decide to dress accordingly?
Mr. B: It rather went both ways as it were. I'd been looking for an excuse to dress a little more dandily (if that is indeed an adverb. If not, it is now!) for a while. A part of me invented Chap-Hop to accommodate that wish. It all happened quite organically. The music begat the moustache, which begat the clothing and onward it went.
P: With your trademark waxed moustache (Mr B's trademark moustache wax available from www.thechaphopshop.bigcartel.com) and preference for tweed, no one is likely to mistake you for 50 Cent, yet you've proven time and time again that you're a more than capable rapper. What was the initial reaction from people when they first saw a well-dressed man with a banjolele launching into a cover of Rapper's Delight?
Mr. B: One of the joys of my 'job' is seeing the reactions on the faces of people who assume I'll be doing some George Formby-esque thing only to have their perceptions rather mucked about with.
P: How important is your look to your act?
Mr. B: It is essential. If I'd been wearing an undershirt and pantaloon de Nimes all this time...well, I'd still be looking for a proper job more than likely.
P: You already have your own design of club tie available to buy from the Chap Hop Shop, if you had your own clothing range what would it consist of?
Mr. B: All I can say really is watch this space, plans are afoot! I already, as you said make the club tie, but I also do Cufflinks, lapel badges and moustahce wax. There are tentative plans for waistcoats, pocket squares, cravats and much more...
P: What is your favourite item of clothing?
Mr. B: Usually whichever thing I acquired last. At the moment it's a beautiful 1940s checked tweed three piece which I bought for next to nowt in a second hand shop in Somerset. It's quite, quite beautiful and like any decent chap I'm looking forward to the weather closing in so I can wear it without drowning in my own juices. As it were.
P: What are your favourite clothing shops that help you achieve that perfect ‘Chap' look?
Mr. B: I do buy a lot of vintage pieces, but my 'go to' people are Walker Slater of Edinburgh and London for Tweed and Old Town for daywear (and often 'gig wear' as it's so comfy). For accessories I tend to go to Lloyd Attree And Smith.
P: Why do you think that after experiencing years of such crimes against fashion as shell suits we've come back to styles from the 30s, 40s and 50s?
Mr. B: I think that in times of financial hardship we tend to both hark back to 'better' times and also we like to treat a night out as something a little more special, so dress accordingly. It needn't cost the earth. One doesn't need to go to Savile Row for a decent suit. My last one cost me 40 quid.
P: What sartorial advice would you give to an aspiring chap? Where's the best place to start? What are the essential pieces of kit?
Mr. B: Remember, there are suits and there are SUITS. Looking like a bank clerk doth not the Chap make. The devil is in the detail, but worry not, you'll get the hang of it soon enough.
That and never wear identical tie and pocket square. It's just the rules. Just listen to my little ditty ' All Hail The Chap' and you'll be on your way!
P: Are there any pieces of vintage wear you'd like to see make a comeback? (That haven't already)
Mr. B: I see so many Wellies at festivals. How's about galoshes?
P: Do you have any ‘style icons' that serve as inspiration to your look?
Mr. B: So many. Terry-thomas, Cary Grant, Jack Buchanan, Kool Moe Dee...
P: Aside from witticisms, bon mots and beats do you collect anything?
Mr. B: I'm slowly building a library of old, rarely-used words. The last one I found was 'Afternoonified' which means 'presentable'. I'm starting rather a nice little tie bar collection too at the mo.
P: We will also be looking at some of the biggest fashion faux pas from the 20th century, is there any style or garment that you'd like to nominate?
Mr. B: Surely crocs are constructed from Satan's very own nocturnal emissions. That was just the first that sprang to mind. There have been so many.
Our thanks to Mr. B, The Gentleman Rhymer for his time and sartorial guidance. If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning a copy of Mr. B's latest album, Can't Stop, Shan't Stop all you need to do is "Like" and "Share" the link to this interview on our Facebook page at:https://www.facebook.com/Picollecta
And remember to have a look at http://www.thechaphopshop.bigcartel.com/ for albums, ties and all of your moustache wax needs!
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