808 Group ShotListening to 808INK’s music is like jumping down a Wonderland-esque rabbit hole into a world where the line between dreams and reality is so blurred, it feels as though a new state of consciousness has been created. This – according to the experimental hip hop collective – is Dreality.

Not content with making up their own vocabulary, the London trio are hoping to use this alternative reality to push the boundaries of hip hop. “We re-invent the legendary and make it legendary again,” says rapper Mumblez Black Ink., who stresses the importance of the full stop at the end of his name.

“There’s a lot of stuff out that everyone is deeming to be the culture that I think is corny,” says 808Charmer, the group’s producer. Charmer, a talented drummer who has shared stages with MIA and Tinie Tempah, calls London artists copycatting American culture “cringey” and says: “There’s a lot of pretence on the scene right now, and you can see the visual effort to appeal to the people Stateside. Let’s just be London and let them appreciate London.”

“For example,” jokes Mumblez “people have red cups and pills in their videos, but that is not the culture over here. The thing that people 16 to 25-years-old can identify with is eating chicken and chips.”

With that said, the crew’s creative output is much more sophisticated than simply portraying the consumption of Chicken Cottage. Charmer’s Knack for pitching and flipping samples and live instrumentals for Mumblez to weave his surreal lyrics over is complimented by the trippy glitch art visuals provided by art director Pure Anubi$.

Pure Anubis with a background in graphics and art says: “I’m influenced by Khalil Joseph who did the Flying Lotus video and Hiro Murai who did Earl Sweatshirt’s ‘Chum’. Quentin Tarantino is a bad man too – he is my guy. I like twisted concepts that are delivered in the most normal way.”

Mumblez, who combines with Pure Anubi$ to form Black Anubi$, also has roots in art and cites the work of Dani Sanchis, a collage artist, as being an inspiration.

Although An Artistic Piece is a few years old, it is the epitome of 808INK’s ability to merge two mediums to create a complete audiovisual experience. Mumblez’s skateboard accident that left him on strong painkillers was just as much inspiration for the music as was Charmer’s frustration at working for an oil company where he says: “Everyone was stuck up and thought they were better than me because I was the youngest in the whole firm. I would channel my frustrations in the beats so that’s why a lot of it sounds a bit dark and aggressive.”

Re-releasing the video for ‘Full English’ marks the start of a campaign to get people familiar with a concept they believe might be hard for some to grasp.

Charmer says: “The music out right now doesn’t have many dimensions to it. What we are doing is going to be a big pill to swallow, but there is going to come a time when our sound is dominant.”

With much more music and visuals to come this year, Mumblez issues fans a friendly word of advice: “If you come to an 808INK show, prepare to leave sweaty with dirty trainers.”

An Artistic Piece is available for free download here



God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.