Loyle Carner has made a name for himself as one of rap’s most thoughtful talents over the last few years. Real name Ben Coyle-Larner (his misspelt musical moniker is a nod to him being dyslexic), the south London rapper’s intimate and introspective lyrics swerve hip-hop’s traditional subject matter of money and sex for more personal topics, from being diagnosed with ADHD to personal bereavement and the value of going to therapy.
Born in Croydon, the rapper’s dad left when he was a young child, leaving him to be brought up singlehandedly by his mum Jean. That was until his stepfather Nik, a music obsessive who performed as Steven Vengeance, came into their lives followed by his now half brother Ryan.
His debut album, Yesterday’s Gone, spoke with disarming honesty about his father leaving and his stepdad arriving, only for him to tragically pass away. The work saw him nominated for the Mercury Prize and two Brit awards in 2017. The album’s 2019 follow up, Not Waving, But Drowning, was inspired by Stevie Smith’s 1957 poem about a man who dies before bystanders can realise what has actually happened, and similarly touched on his personal journey of transitioning into adulthood.
Ben’s latest venture comes in the form of the Coyle-Larner Brothers, a directorial partnership with his half brother Ryan that is a result of their shared love of film and visual storytelling. Prior to getting into music, Ben was actually more interested in theatre, and was set to go to Central Saint Martin’s prestigious Drama Centre London before his stepfather passed away in 2014. Meanwhile, Ryan was fascinated by what was going on behind the camera. “Growing up I got interested in popular films, watching classics and wanting to learn a bit more about how they were all put together,” he says, when CR catches up with the duo over Zoom.