Q&A: Guvna B
East London hip-hop artist Guvna B has won numerous awards including a MOBO. His latest album Secret World reached number one in the official Christian and Gospel Charts. Editor Jamie Cutteridge sat down to grill the Guvna and talk about the new album
JC: I’ve heard you got into rapping for a joke?
GB: Yeah I did, we were clashing in the playground. Have you seen 8 Mile with Eminem? It was that kind of thing but we were all rubbish and I would just take the mick out of people’s mums. When, I became a Christian I thought I probably shouldn’t talk about people’s mums anymore so I changed my content. That’s probably when it stopped being a joke.
JAMIE VERSUS GUVNA
We got the opportunity to ask Guvna B anything. So we did…
What happened to Guvna A?
I’ve heard that one a few times, normally from people over the age of 75!
Are you a real governor?
No!. When I was at school, we had ‘tag’ names (like graffiti tags); my friend was ‘General’, another one was ‘Corporal’ and I was ‘The Governor’ and it just stuck.
You crowdfunded Secret world. Is that because you couldn’t afford to make it yourself?!
I could afford to make an album but not to the quality that I’d like to.
So you got teenage fans of yours to do it all for you?!
Ha! No! , I got supportive fans of mine to say, ‘Do we wanna see this guy do well? Do we want more positive inspirational music out there?‘
For the full video interview, go to premieryouthwork.com/ grilltheguv
JC: The first track on the album, ‘Home’, feels quite personal…
GB: It’s about the environment I grew up in and how my parents played a pivotal role in trying to keep me on the straight and narrow. I was close to becoming a product of my environment – I wasn’t a gangster, I was just a kid that thought he was one, and that everyone laughed at! My mum saw that I was at risk of chucking my life away so she said, ‘ ‘Why don’t you make something of your life, get an education, invest in your gifts and your talents’.
JC: ‘Easy road’ was inspired by one of your childhood friends committing suicide. Was that a difficult song to write?
GB: I often find when I’m really emotional or when something happens in my life, lyrics come out quite easily. But it was really hard for me, because I felt guilty that I didn’t do as much as I could have done in that situation. And growing up where I grew up, trying to escape reality, it was harder for other people than it was for me – I had parents that were Christian and I drew on faith to help me but other people turned to money, drugs or girls, and got themselves into trouble. The whole idea behind the track is that life’s not easy for anyone; whether you grew up in a council estate or a mansion.
JC: It seems like your music, and hip-hop in general, is more personal than other genres…
GB: Hip-hop started because people were on the streets getting up to no good and they thought, ‘we have this art form, lets express ourselves’. So it’s always going to be more personal than other genres and I think that’s what makes hip-hop great and that’s what makes so many people able to relate to it.
I feel like there’s a bit too much watereddown Christianity within music and actually there’s young Christians going through some very real stuff so I want to touch on a bit more of a personal side with Secret World.
JC: Tell us about ‘Somebody’s watching’
GB: Looking back on everything that I’ve achieved musically and in my Christian life, I never planned any anything so it’s clear that someone was watching over me and orchestrating everything that happened in my life.
JC: It’s easy for you to talk about stuff like that because you’re successful. But for young people who perhaps have dreams they’re not achieving, how do you communicate to them that God can be watching over you but you won’t have a top 20 single?
GB: I guess the key word is journey because I can only write that kind of a song after eight years of working really hard and finding my way through life. I’d just say you’ve got to keep going and you could have a testimony too. Look for the little things as well, like you waking up today or being able to eat or have shelter and simple things like that – there’s someone still watching over you. If you’re not where you want to be, just keeping going, persevere and one day you’ll be able to look back and see that actually God had worked it all out even when you didn’t understand it at the time.