THE UNDERCOVER HIPPY – LUCKY 7
Drum n Bass MC turned singer songwriter Billy Rowan aka THE UNDERCOVER HIPPY is on a mission to make people think, laugh and dance simultaneously. Described by Tom Robinson as “beautifully produced agitprop reggae flavoured rap”, his music brings together powerful messages and infectious rhythms. Combining intelligent, provocative lyrics with dangerously catchy hooks, masterful delivery, and feel-good grooves, this is music for the thinking person to go wild to. Think Natty meets Eminem … on a protest march … at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Renowned for the electric atmosphere at their shows, Billy and his band have performed at some of the UK’s best festivals, including Glastonbury, Boomtown Fair, Green Man and The Secret Garden Party, as well as many European festivals. As the music clocks up over 11 million Spotify streams, the band have been clocking up motorway miles, touring relentlessly across the UK and Europe each year. Of course, Covid has been tough for the band but the comeback was worth the wait, with sold out shows across the country.
1. SINEAD O’CONNOR – BLACK BOYS ON MOPEDS
I think this was the first song I heard that made me realise the power of using songs to discuss political and social issues. As a kid growing up in the 80s with left wing parents, Margaret Thatcher was like the Wicked Witch of The West. So, to hear her being directly challenged by someone with a guitar and a voice seemed incredibly powerful to me.
2. PAUL SIMON – DIAMONDS ON THE SOLES OF HER SHOES
Musically this track, and the whole album, are just incredible. Putting aside the financial
disputes between Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon for a second, which I don’t know enough about to comment on, the way the two musical styles are brought together is just magical and I can’t think of another example of where it’s been achieved so successfully. This particular track appealed to me as a kid also because it was about class and social divides.
3. LINTON KWESI JOHNSON – SONNY’S LETTAH (ANTI-SUS POEM)
This track, written in 1979, is unfortunately still just as relevant today. It tells the story of a young black man who gets wrongfully arrested and beaten, and how things go wrong when his friend comes to his aid. It’s written as a letter to his mother, which makes it even more powerful. This was also one of the first dub reggae albums I discovered, and it’s still a classic.
4. TRIBE OF ISSACHAR – I’M A JUNGLIST!
It’s hard to pick one track from my many years of being immersed in the world of Jungle and Drum n Bass, but I remember buying this record very clearly, and seeing people’s faces when I first played it out. Absolute tune!
5. JACK JOHNSON – GONE
I first heard this song when a friend played it on the guitar back in 2003. I was travelling at the time and a few people, upon hearing me play my songs, had commented, “Oh, I bet you really like Jack Johnson”. I’d actually never heard of him, and in the days before Spotify it wasn’t that easy to just look him up. But when I asked my friend who had written the song he played me, he said ‘Jack Johnson’, I suddenly realised what they’d meant. I still rate those first two albums as two of my favourite albums ever.
6. REGIME – QUEENIE
Regime are the band of my old drummer Theo Grimshaw. This track of theirs is an absolute banger, and a really powerful message about our place in the world as one of the biggest arms dealers funnelling weapons into conflict zones.
LUCKY 7: THE UNDERCOVER HIPPY – FOOL BRITANNIA
Our most recent single. A polemic about the divisiveness of Brexit, populist politics and the grandiose nostalgia of post-colonial Britain.
Check out the The Undercover Hippy Fool Britannia on Bandcamp
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