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Young Fathers


Formed 2008, in Edinburgh, Scotland, the discordant and implacable YOUNG FATHERS had the unenviable tag of becoming the most exciting prospects when winning – for album `Dead’ – the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2014. And championed by esteemed BBC Radio DJ and presenter, Vic Galloway, the all-encompassing left-field/indie R&B/hip-hop trio just might’ve taken MASSIVE ATTACK’s mantle had trendsetters from over the border been more receptive to their melting-pot miasma of sounds. As it turned out, YOUNG FATHERS did have chances to succeed in the dog-eat-dog world, and up to 2018, a priol of full-sets made the UK Top 50 grade.
The three singers all grew up in the Scottish capital: only the Liberian-born Alloysious Massaquoi had his roots out with cold Caledonian climes; though his family had moved to said city life when he was only four. Kayus Bankole, meanwhile, had duly relocated from a spell living in his Parents’ ancestral home of Nigeria (and Maryland, USA) to give the ‘Burgh another chance. His close friendship with Alloysious became ever more solid but accommodating when Graham “G” Hastings (from the nearby Drylaw estate), gelled as the three frequented the local nightclub scene.
The enterprising This Is Music imprint were first to bring about the trio’s rpm revolution. `Straight Back On It’ (a download from late 2008) set the pace, whilst further cuts came via 2010’s double-edged single, `Automatic’ and `Dancing Mantaray’; `Fevers Worse’ turned up a year later. Although only initially surfacing on a mini-cassette, the unorthodox 20-minute “mixtape”, TAPE ONE (2011) {*7}, caught the attention of American-based Anticon Records, who official re-issued the item in various formats over the next few years.
2013’s TAPE TWO {*7} stretched YF’s moody bedroom-R&B manifesto to another level, and with wayward vibes from a chilly darkwave, it won them the Scottish Album of the Year award, despite being only 23 minutes long. From Anticon to the Big Dada label, YOUNG FATHERS’ kudos was growing to new levels.
As singles cuts, `Low’ and `Get Up’, paved the way for resolute reviews in January 2014 for DEAD {*8}, it seemed Scotland had unearthed an exciting fresh-faced hip-hop act that could compete with its neighbours from down south; and possibly cousins across the Atlantic. When that aforementioned Mercury award came out of the blue and almost shook up the entire UK music industry, belated chart success was overdue; re-promoted that fall the set entered the charts at No.35. A cacophony of sonic, tribal polyrhythms that would make CAN or PUBLIC IMAGE LTD turn green with envy; and with rebellious raps to boot, opening cuts `No Way’ and `Just Another Bullet’ were the big ticket items. The innovative YOUNG FATHERS had now come of age.
Unable to rest on their laurels and with a follow-up set in the can, the testing triumvirate built further foundations via a handful of download singles: `Soon Come Soon’ (an exclusive non-album cue), `Rain Or Shine’ and `Shame’. April 2015 saw the dispatch of parent album, WHITE MEN ARE BLACK MEN TOO {*8}, a masterclass in psychedelic ghetto-rap and trip-hop. To compare street-smart YF with The LAST POETS or a pumped-up GIL SCOTT-HERON (a la `Liberated’), could probably stir up a hornet’s nest of dispute among aficionados from here, there and everywhere, but with a whirlpool of spirited anti-pop rhythms intercepting anything close to a verse and chorus, press-plays `Still Running’, `27’, `Sirens’ and `Old Rock n Roll’ suggested the intense trio were enjoying empowering their own ball of confusion.
Straight outta completing a fresh track, `Only God Knows’, to feature on the soundtrack to T2 Trainspotting (both `Get Up’ and `Rain Or Shine’ were among a smorgasbord of other various artists inserts), YOUNG FATHERS crammed in a further cluster of unclassifiable complexities under third album proper, COCOA SUGAR (2018) {*8}. The Top 30 record was a remarkable excursion into the minds of Alloysious, Kayus and Graham. As Edinburgh drowned in a converse sea of addiction poverty and hauteur riches, YF were sticking it to the man by way of sample-tastic song soundscapes such as `In My View’, `Turn’ (utilising SUICIDE’s `Ghost Rider’), `Lord’ (the gospel according to Sunday morning hangovers), `Holy Ghost’ and `Border Girl’.
© MC Strong/MCS Aug2019

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