London Rapper “Plan B” makes his film debut this week in the sequel to ‘Kidulthood’. Here, he talks about the film, his music and more…
“It’s about growing up and moving on” says musician “Plan B”- the latest addition to Noel Clarke’s Kidulthood/Adulthood franchise. Hailing from London, Ben ‘Plan B’ Drew broke onto the music scene around the same time ‘Kidulthood’ hit cinemas in 2005. Signed to the same label as UK rapper The Streets, he has become known for his lyrics surrounding drugs, rape, murder and underage sex. So it seems appropriate that he make his film debut in the follow on to ‘Kidulthood’, the appropriately titled, ‘Adulthood’. Here, “Plan B” talks London, movies, music and more…
Q: Can you tell us about the character you play? A: I’m playing Dabs. I’m part of the main crew. Sam has gone to prison and we’ve taken over now. I’m the oldest one in my crew and I have all the young ones around me and I’m manipulating them. A couple of them are getting a bit wiser, Omen is coming up now and starting to go off and do his own things. My role is to try and keep him in check and make sure he knows who is boss. We get into a situation and we find out how clever Dabs really is! He thinks he’s the brains behind all the operations, but he messes up and the rest of the crew see him for what he really is. They see his true colours.
Q: When did you first hear about Adulthood? A: Me and Noel Clarke were invited to Cheltenham Literature Festival. I was asked about my album and he was asked about Kidulthood. We were on this panel with three other authors who brought out books on the behaviour and mentality of youth nowadays in our society. We were talking about how we can educate these kids. Me and Noel were arguing our point that the only people that could educate these kids are people who can understand them and who grew up in those kind of areas. So it’s only through our work, his films and my music that we are going to get through to them because we are the only people that these kids are going to listen to. They aren’t going to listen to David Cameron and all these politicians, they don’t respect them. These people know nothing of their world.
We sat there in a big room full of middle class, book-reading people who went in with preconceptions about us and came out educated in a way. We had that whole room standing up and clapping, we left to a standing ovation, because we knew what we talking about. One of the three panellists was trying to criticize us and argue against us and the funny thing was, before we went up to have this debate he was actually shaking Noel’s hand and saying, ‘I loved the film, I show it to my school kids’.
We were right in the middle of this debate about whose work is better to teach these young people and he was criticizing us for being too controversial then Noel said, ‘Hold on, before all this started didn’t you say that you show my film to your kids in your class, so you are actually having to resort to my methods to teach your kids, so how can you sit there and criticize us?’ We left there feeling empowered. We knew what we were doing from the start but it was good to explain to a bunch of people who aren’t from this world what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. A lot of people have seen Kidulthood now and so with the sequel we’re not going to have that problem. People are going to be looking forward to seeing it without all these politics surrounding it.
Q: What are the key themes and message of this film? A: It’s about growing up and moving on. You watch Kidulthood and that has a message about everything these kids are doing they see it as ‘their world’. They can’t see past that. This film is past that. This is about the unknown. This is what they weren’t thinking about when they are behaving like that. It’s about Sam going around bullying people and being horrible and this film is about the repercussions of that and him coming out of jail and having to deal with his past. Now he’s different, now he’s grown and he is past that as a person and he doesn’t want to go back to that kind of way, but these other people are dragging him back in because of his past and because of the shit he’s done. That is the message.
Q: How has Noel been as a director? A: I just directed my first short film at the weekend, it was a three day shoot. I had never directed anything before and I could tell that a lot of the crew resented the fact that they had been making films all this time and then suddenly I come along and get to have all these people working for me. I know that they didn’t really respect me and I had to earn that. If you’re not stern, if you don’t stand your ground then people are going to walk all over you. I think that’s the thing with Noel, I met him before the film started shooting and thought he was a safe guy, then when we started shooting you see the director version of Noel which is no-nonsense, kick-you-up-the-arse if he has to, get the job done Noel!. You see the way that he talks to some people and you think, wow he can be short some times, but then it’s only when I started filming my own that I realised you had to be like that because people will take the piss and try to direct your film for you. So maximum respect and he has obviously been in the game for a long time and he knows exactly what he’s doing and he has a no-nonsense attitude towards it and he is also a really good actor. I only need to ask him to act out my scene for me and I know what I’ve got to do because he does all the facial expressions perfectly. He could probably act out every part in this film. Get him to grow his hair out and give him some fake tits and he could be doing the female roles as well. He is that good an actor.
Q: How have you found acting in your first feature film? A: I’m playing a little street kid running around with my mates fucking about. If you were asking me to play someone with autism then I guess I’d find that really hard and challenging. This came quite naturally, when I did drama at school it was something that I always enjoyed and I understood it and got it. A lot of people you ask them to play a crack head and they are like, nah man I’m not playing a crack head, they don’t understand that it is just acting, it’s not you, it doesn’t represent you. So I got that anyway. No, this was an easy transition for me to make.
Q: Are you doing any music for this film? A: We are going to try and get a couple of tracks on the soundtrack. I’ve got about four or five that I’m thinking of. It all depends on what Noel is thinking about for the film. I’m going to give them an option of songs to use for it so there will definitely be one at least of my tracks on the soundtrack. I think whatever goes on the soundtrack will be exclusive to that and not on my new album, just because this is purely a street film and what ever tracks go on it have to be street and I think musically my next album has come further from that style.