City Press chats to Rapman about Blue Story

Putting the streets of London on the map: Rapman writes, raps, makes beats and directs film. Let's hope he becomes a master of them all.
Putting the streets of London on the map: Rapman writes, raps, makes beats and directs film. Let's hope he becomes a master of them all. pictures:supplied

Last week #Trending reviewed recently released film Blue Story. The story casts light on the harsh reality of gangsterism in London. Phumlani S Langa was left intrigued and sought to find out a little more about this quizzical feature from its director, Rapman.

Andrew Onwubolu, better known as Rapman, directed Blue Story, which is sitting at a 92% rating on review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. Rapman seems perfectly positioned to take charge of the narrative about the UK streets from the likes of Guy Ritchie.

His series Shiro’s Story received massive acclaim and amassed him a loyal following, all captivated by how the characters’ lives were narrated by Rapman using raps. He used the same technique for Blue Story.

Speaking to #Trending from Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles, US, Rapman explains why he chose to create his first film using rap to tell parts of the story. This and the buzz his style of storytelling created got him a deal with the TV and film division of rapper Jay Z’s Roc Nation.

The film is rather graphic, with skirmishes breaking out all the time between youngsters in gangs, either among themselves or with rivals. Is this really how it is in London?

Truth be told, I had to tone it down a bit as it can be worse. It’s their kingdom, they believe those blocks and corners are theirs. More times than not the family ... don’t even own the house they’re living in.

Speak to us a little about the music you used – drill and rap – why does it play such a central role in the film?

That’s the music that represents the culture, the culture of the streets where we’re from. I listen to that kind of music and there is an association with the streets as that music lives there.

In the movie, acts are separated by a song that you perform as a way of narration. Tell us how this artistic choice was settled on?

Initially it wasn’t in at all. After showing it to the people I was working with some wanted to know where the raps were. I told them I had some and we inserted that, and I think it really works well.

Blue Story shows the inner workings and daily routine of gangsters in London. We have a similar problem in South Africa, what would you say to someone who might be on the cusp of joining a street fraternity?

Look man, in that life there are only two places you’re likely to end up – in jail or dead. Before it’s too late, before you’ve done something that can’t be wiped away, just walk away. It really isn’t worth it.

What are your views on the state of black creatives around the world?

I think we have great black creatives all over the world. But being that we’re black and talented, you know that means we have to work twice as hard to get the recognition we deserve, which is unfortunate. [But] the talent is undeniable.

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