Nine Songs: Yxng Bane
As an artist, Yxng Bane is drawn to authenticity.
The fast rising rapper and songwriter’s explanation of the songs that inspire him is simple. “That’s why these songs are my favourites, they’re so relatable.”
Bane broke through with his take on Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and the 22-year-old East Londoner is showing no signs of slowing down. Following his shortlisting for the Sound of 2018 longlist, selling out London’s Kentish Town Forum and collaborating with Steel Banglez and MØ on this summer’s “Your Lovin”, the next stage for Bane is the release of his mixtape, HBK.
When we talk about the criteria that proved the deciding factor in his song choices, the answer is a pursuit of realness. Bane, (Larry Kiala to his friends) sums up his approach to his choices when he says “That feeling is still real and applicable to us.” A song won’t work for Bane if its sole purpose is to soundtrack a club night, it needs to tell a story.
Bane’s love of lyricism is replicated in his favourite songs; throughout our conversation he quotes them verbatim. From his formative musical moments of hearing 50 Cent to Giggs bringing UK rap into the mainstream, Bane is constantly on the search for inspiration and kindred spirits, with his admiration for Lil Durk seeing Bane select two of his songs.
Ultimately it’s the connection to songs that Bane craves and what he looks to when creating his own sound, words and music.
“When this song came out eight years ago I was in the first year of secondary school. I remember listening to it in my youth on a Sony Ericsson on the way to school. At the time I was with my parents a lot, so my music influences were still heavily based around theirs.
“I would say for people growing up in my generation, when Giggs dropped that banger ‘Talking the Hardest’ it was a very big moment in the UK rap scene. It was a big change and it was the first hardcore rap song that went crazy here in the UK.
“He was the first UK rapper to be real. For me, it definitely changed how I approached my song writing, with his skill and the rawness of his raps. This made the list because I feel Giggs has created the scene for artists to be real."
“This is a tune! I could have picked any of Usher’s songs, but I really like this one he did, ‘Rivals’, with Future, although I still go back to some old-school Usher sometimes.
“I like the way that it’s written and how the words flow, it’s the lyrics and the structure of the song. There’s too many good lyrics in this one, but I like ‘Make every day our love season / Baby girl you know you’re my rider / That should be enough reason / Call you baby, that’s only your title / Cause I don’t need no more rivals.’
“It’s real and lyrics like these touch you. You know when you feel so beaten up, but you’ve got that one person that can make it alright? When you feel like the world is against you, but then that one person’s got your back? That’s what I’m saying. This tune is sick.”
“This song was from about nine years ago. Get Rich or Die Tryin' was the first album I ever bought and 'In Da Club' was the big single on there. I was in Year 6 at school and I remember taking it to the extreme, I went and got the game Bulletproof and I bought the clothing, I was a big 50 fan. The music video was epic as well, I thought he was like a machine, like he was half man-made.
“The reason why I liked 50 was because he was different. When this song came out the raps were way more melodic and much catchier from the usual. When I listened to American rap it would be people like Jim Jones or Styles P. Those guys were straight rappers and proper lyricists, whereas with 50 Cent, he came with those melodies and then with the raps on the verse.
“There was a structure and it was catchy. He made a big, big impact, he was like a breath of fresh air.”
“My old man used to listen to The Isley Brothers and they would always be playing around the house, but I knew the songs from when I was with him in the car, singing along to them. Now I see it with my little sister, when we go in the car and she’ll sing along to anyone’s songs, it’s the same thing.
“Now I’m older, I go back to those tracks and I appreciate them so much more when I listen to them. Before I was just a kid singing them, but now I can see why they’re so good. On the album Eternal, from ‘Contagious’ to ‘Secret Lover’ there’s loads of bangers on there. The Isley Brothers have done loads of great work.
“I think what draws me to ‘Contagious’, and to their songs in general, is that they’re ready to tell a story. With all of the music that I listen to, I only ever like it if it’s relatable.”
“I met Tinie around the time that he dropped the Youth album. I’d just dropped ‘Fine Wine’ and ‘Shape of You’ when he dropped that album and I loved every tune off that, but ‘Something Special’ was one of my favourite tracks. It’s a good tune to play on a night out, when you get to wherever you’re going.
“It’s the lyrics as well. I think I was just going into the studio and making music when I heard it, but there’s something in this one, there’s something very special happening. It was a personal moment for me.”
“I think he sets off honestly. The way he teaches through his music and the way you can learn through his music is kind of sick. I like the messages in his lyrics, Lil Durk is definitely someone that I listen to carefully and he’s more than an inspiration.
“He dropped another song a few days ago and if I was asked then I could have definitely picked that song too. He says something like ‘You think about the money / But it’s how you gonna chase it.’ With that line, and with all his songs, you think about them - that you need to be smart in your decisions and not do anything stupid.
“It’s because he’s a man who’s been through a lot. He’s always been sharing his experiences and teaching you, he says stuff like when you’re talking about manipulators and instigators. These are all emotions that we all experience and that we all need to learn from.
“I like ‘Do Not Disturb’ because of the lyrics. If you take a look at all of the songs I’ve picked out, they’re all songs that you can learn from. When the artist is actually talking to the listeners, those are the songs that can guide you through life. They’re not just club songs, it’s everything in them; these are songs where it’s the details that make the difference.
“This song is definitely relatable to who I am. When you’re touring you miss home and you feel like you’re so far away from the people who care about you. This tune’s another song where you can learn from it, when he’s talking about his life and his experiences and people just being people. It’s the details that make it relatable.”
“I chose this Lil Durk song for the same reasons as ‘Instigator.’ When I was asked to come up with my favourite songs, I guess it was just me answering the first nine tracks that came to me naturally, emotionally or just creatively or however else they’ve affected me.
“I couldn’t pick my favourite bit of the song, that would be too hard! Young Dolph’s verse is good and so is Lil Baby’s as well. It’s all so good. Lil Durk is becoming one of my favourites very rapidly.”
“A lot of Future’s songs are among my favourites, but with this one there’s something special in the second verse. I think that second verse is very sensitive and very honest of him - ‘Pretty as ever, I thank your momma for blessing me / Joking with your father because you're part of my embassy.’
"That’s the type of relationship you want to have with your Mum and your parents. It’s the fact that he can write that and how he’s able to express it in the way that he did. Even the tone he’s done it in, it’s a real feeling, it’s authentic, relatable and its real things talking to you.
“That’s something I like to speak to with my music to keep it real and relatable. When I’m writing I still like to drop a message, where maybe there would be one or two lines where you can take something from it. I just want people to connect.”