Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer just dropped the ballsiest hip-hop track of 2014

Mr. B at your service

Yeah, you read that headline right. We’re calling this one early. No one for the rest of 2014 will release a hip-hop track more fearless than “Hip-Hop Was to Blame After All,” the first video from chap-hop superstar Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer‘s latest wax cylinder, Can’t Stop, Shan’t Stop. You may not entirely agree with Mr. B’s irony-drenched but still scathing indictment of mainstream hip-hop—especially coming as it does from a white, banjolele-playing Englishman—but you gotta at least admit he’s right about one thing: it’s pretty whack that DJ Kool Herc almost went broke paying his medical bills. (And yes, I just used “whack” in a sentence. Stick around and I might also describe Mr. B’s music as “stupid fresh.”)

You can order yourself a copy of Can’t Stop, Shan’t Stop from Amazon.com or Mr. B’s own Chap-Hop Shop. Jolly good!

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Bless us, one and all! Miss Von Trapp has a visit from Professor Elemental.

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There’s nothing that makes our hearts and various other organs swell with greater pride than the sight of two entrants on our esteemed Weird List making beautiful music together. So when murderously dark cabaret cellist Miss Von Trapp shared with us this video of her and chap-hop luminary Professor Elemental giving the Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York” a good jolly rogering, our hearts were swollen fair to bursting. The less said about what it did to our other organs, the better.

Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer “Can’t Stop, Shan’t Stop” for 12 nights at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

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I haven’t had the pleasure of attending the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but my wife’s been and she tells me it’s a hoot. Where else can you see experimental underground theatre, stand-up comedy, chap-hop and drunk Scottish people puking in alleyways, all in the same day? Nowhere else, my friend. The EFF has got that shit on lock. Especially the drunk Scottish people part.

About that chap-hop bit: Apparently our tied-for-first-place-on-our-list-of-chap-hop-icons friend Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer is something of a regular at the Fringe, and he’s returning this year to play 12 nights at the Voodoo Rooms, Aug. 13-25. (He’s taking the Monday off halfway through, no doubt to get his moustache trimmed and waistcoat freshly pressed.) If you’re lucky enough to be hitting the Fringe this year, we highly recommend you go see him. You can score tickets here.

Word round the cricket pitch is that Mr. B will be debuting a few new tunes from his forthcoming piece of Victrola fodder, Can’t Stop, Shan’t Stop. According to the Fringe website, he’ll also enlighten his audience on “choosing event-specific footwear,” “ordering the correct size champagne bottle” and “the appropriate time to arrive at an orgy.” Wish he’d dropped that last bit of knowledge on me back in my Burning Man days.

Let’s play this post out with a new track recently posted to Mr. B’s SoundCloud: a chapified cover of “Diamond Lights,” a song that was apparently made popular in 1987 by a pair of English footballers named Glenn & Chris. It’s England’s answer to “The Super Bowl Shuffle”!

Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer is about to gentrify America

Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer

America, your long chap-hop drought is finally about to end. Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer will soon grace our savage shores with his refined, banjolele-fueled ditties about big pimpin’ Victorian style. Huzzah!

Sadly, the esteemed Mr. B’s Stateside social calendar currently boasts but two invitations: The CONvergence sci-fi and fantasy convention (whose 2013 theme, fittingly, is “British Invasion”) in Minneapolis on July 4th, and the Antiquarian Music Festival at Steamstock, a steampunk festival in the San Francisco Bay Area, on July 28th. Between those two dates, we can only assume he will be making the arduous trek across our great American wildernesses via horseless carriage, or possibly one of these things. Will he call upon various saloons and public houses along the way and delight them with impromptu chap-hop recitals? The gap-toothed hoi polloi between the Twin Cities and the Golden Gate can but fervently hope.

Mr. B hasn’t released any new tunes of late, so we’ll leave you instead with this adorable Steamstock promotional video, featuring the many highlights and elaborate hats of Steamstock 2012. Please to enjoy.

Professor Elemental vs. Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer

MrBProfE

It’s yet another first here at Weird Band HQ: This week, two artists will share the title of Weird Band of the Week. It seems only fitting, since Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer and Professor Elemental were finally able to quash their long-running feud and agree to share the top of the chap-hop heap.

Let’s back up a bit. “Chap-hop” is a term that, as far as we can tell, was originally coined by Mr. B (real name: Jim Burke), a London rapper who adopted the trappings of the British “Chappist” movement, a subculture devoted to the more genteel ways of Downton Abbey-era England, complete with lots of tweed, liberal use of the word “jolly” and well-manicured facial hair. By combining dandyish style (and an adorably retro instrument called the banjolele) with the rhymes, beats and cocksure attitude of hip-hop, Mr. B created a whole new subgenre of music. Or did he?

This is where it gets interesting. Because you see, before Mr. B ever dropped a rhyme about his watch fob, another chap in nearby Brighton by the name of Professor Elemental (real name: Paul Alborough) was mixing rap with Edwardian swag on songs like “Cup of Brown Joy,” an ode to tea drinking whose loopy, low-budget video has racked up 1.5 million views on YouTube, making it a chap-hop anthem on par with, say, “Gin & Juice.”

Although Professor Elemental initially identified himself as a “steampunk mad scientist” (you can tell he’s steampunk because he sometimes wears goggles on his pith helmet) rather than a practitioner of chap-hop, it wasn’t long before he discovered the existence of Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer and began drawing battle lines. “I can’t walk down the street these days without being mistaken for Mr. B, or without folk asking if I am going to battle the cad,” he said in an interview with The Chap, the scene’s magazine of record. In 2010, two years after both chap rappers first rose to prominence, he released a song and video called “Fighting Trousers” that called out Mr. B in no uncertain terms.

Mr. B eventually responded with his own shot across the bow, a capital little brag track called “Just Like a Chap.” But by this point, the battle was all in good fun, as you’ll see towards the end when Professor E himself makes a good-natured cameo.

Anyone wishing to further weigh the relative merits of chap-hop’s two leading lights should peruse footage from this 2011 “chap-off.”

Although we do find Professor Elemental’s Jules Verne-inspired zaniness entertaining, and although he certainly meets the criteria for weirdness set out by our esteemed blog  (the fellow has a gorilla butler named Geoffrey for a sidekick, by Jove), we tend to find Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer a more satisfyingly polished performer. Maybe it’s the banjolele that gives him his edge. Or this video. Or the fact that, unlike Professor E, he seems to know how to use a straight razor.

It’s worth noting that Mr. B and Prof E have inspired a whole chap-hop movement, and there’s now a host of other artists busting rhymes like it’s 1899: Poplock Holmes, Class Rhymes and Reginald Pikedevant, Esquire, to name only a few. At this rate, chap-hop seems poised to outlast the post-Downtown Abbey acting career of that fool who played Matthew Crawley. Seriously, why would anyone quit the best show ever on British television? What a cad.

P.S. We almost forgot to thank readers Wallicoth and Charm Man for introducing us to the joys of chap-hop. Good show, gents!

You might also like: Mo Wolpert, MC Frontalot, DeScribe

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