Already Registered? Sign In

Access your personal details, check your artist alerts and more.

Gigs in Scotland

Create your own account to suit your music taste. You can select your favourite genres, follow artists you love and get notifications straight to your inbox when new shows are announced. Put the power in your hands and ensure you never miss a beat.

Event Info

"We’re bombarded with information these days and everywhere you look things are going to shit,” he says, flashing that trademark smile. “Communication is dying, generic people skills are in the ground. People are scared to do things because they’re scared of the incoming war. But it’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue and on the edge of every phone screen. Everyone’s a diplomat and all about this talking. But I really feel like things have to be completely burnt and destroyed before they can come back together.” The result of this urge is the fittingly revolutionary World’s End FM: a debut album of staggering scope, ambition and scuffed melodic gorgeousness that introduces the wider world to Baker’s singular, mercurial folk-poetry in the manner of a molotov cocktail being ‘introduced’ to a window. Its premise alone is hard to resist. Building on the street-level stories and bruised geezer confessionals of his output since 2017’s career-launching Misfits EP, World’s End FM takes the form of a pirate radio broadcast from the edge of armageddon. Executive produced by Hak and Karma Kid and compiled from two years of prolific sessions with in-demand producers including Speedy Wunderground’s Dan Carey, Shrink and Misfits producer Ali Bla Bla, the record crackles as the genre dial is twiddled from rip-snorting post-punk to lilting roots reggae. A rolling cast of friends and family (including Connie Constance and Allan Mustafah aka Kurupt FM’s MC Grindah) drop by for phone-in skits; and there, at the centre of it all, is Baker – a one-man Greek chorus and cackling conduit, leading the listener through this unsettling, exhilarating, and unexpectedly life-affirming apocalyptic fantasia. Even set against Baker’s recent career achievements – co-signs from the likes of Annie Mac, Skepta and Mike Skinner, playing on a Stratford rooftop to inaugurate the the BBC’s new East Bank live session studio, roping in Pete Doherty for a rambunctious, mosh-swelling version of A Message To You Rudy on the Other Stage at last year’s Glastonbury – it is a gigantic artistic swing that recalls other iconic, high-wire creative accomplishments. It is a kind of good lad, m.A.A.d City; or A Grand Don’t Come For Free for the extremely online era. And if this is all sounding dangerously like a concept album then, well, that’s another c-word that Baker is all too happy to embrace and employ. 

Hak Baker

“Oh it definitely is,” he says, beaming again. “I remember loving Busta Rhymes, Method Man and Lauryn Hill albums back in the day – the ones where they had loads of skits and interludes that you wouldn’t skip because they were part of the experience. I thought it would be a good part of the armoury, really. So that was why we whipped it all together.” That Busta Rhymes’ 1998 LP Extinction Level Event would provide the unlikely partial inspiration for a suite of spiky, quintessentially British modern folk songs tells you a little something about the eclectic nature of the erstwhile Hakeem Baker’s influences. And, also, the unconventional nature of his path to success. This is, after all, a young man who was weaned on Bob Marley, who sang as part of Southwark Cathedral choir even as he came of age amid nicked cars and egged windows in the isolated wilds of E14, first tasted fame as a 14-year-old part of Channel U-approved grime crew B.O.M.B. squad (“We thought we was big, big boys, going to MC at these little clubs in Romford,” he says. “Don’t forget that Moet cost 30 quid back then so we were having it large”) and only fell in love with the guitar when, during his time as an inmate at HMP Portland, he won his first one in a prison raffle. Those eclectic collisions are evident throughout World’s End FM. Especially so on Telephones 4 Eyes: an itchy, pulsating howl of bovver booted rock that takes aim at our perma-scrolling, surveillance culture, was brought to life by director Mulhern’s body-horror visuals, and marked Baker’s first collaboration with Dan Carey (maverick cohort of Fontaines DC, Kae Tempest, Warmduscher and many more). “Dan’s this crazy punk man and so when we started making a tune about revolt, that was just what came to me,” he says. “Everyone has that feeling where they just want to dash their phone across the room because it’s pissing them off. But then you do that and then in 45 seconds you’re going to collect it again.” There’s a similar full-throttle snarl and attitude to album opener Doolally (a half-rapped, funk-tinged plunge into the bleary haze of an triumphantly messy Friday night), the raw, guitar-driven thrust of Brotherhood and, perhaps most pivotally, the FIFA-approved summer 2022 single, Bricks in the Wall: a positively enormous, Billy Bragg-worthy underclass anthem of such defiant, earworming heft that it has taken Baker a while to acclimatise to the effect it has on audiences. “I was a bit fearful about playing it because it’s big, innit?” he notes, almost sheepishly. “It was the first intro into bigger-sounding tunes and so it was really inspiring to see the response.” Produced by Karma Kid (Biig Piig, Rudimental), it builds on the spare, tuneful nostalgia of Misled (the post-lockdown, 2021 project and follow-up to second release Babylon that marked their first professional link-up) while also acting as a timely call to arms for the global community of disenfranchised, big-hearted ‘Misfits’ that form Baker’s core, rampantly loyal audience. The same goes for I Don’t Know, with its seesawing whistle-along melody, finger-picked guitar, and typically quotable skewering of modern melancholy (‘I don’t even get high,I get heavy/Sat and watched the day go by, no telly’). Yet on one of the record’s most arresting moments Baker widens the lens to pointedly put his life and career in historical context. Borne by a sun-warmed, shuffling groove and enriched by a closing voice note from Baker’s mum (“She’s got a very sharp tongue and she sent over some big old paragraphs that we had to cut down,” he notes), Windrush Baby was an opportunity for this fiercely proud son of the Docklands to fully mark out his lineage and proclaim his Jamaican heritage. “I think people get confused and they don’t really know where to put me,” says Baker, who remembers being nicknamed ‘Cockney’ by fellow black inmates in prison because of the supposedly confusing way he spoke. “I’m from east London and I love it but, before that, I’m double Caribbean. My mum made sure I knew a lot about myself. I never had any inferiority about what I could do and I was always in tune with how powerful I am and what I come from.” It’s the straight-spine afforded by Baker’s upbringing as a Caribbean-heritage, working class east Londoner – the muslim dad who always reminded him to look a man in the eye; the older sister who bailed him out of jail when his mum refused to; the hard-won, cross-cultural unity that he helped foster between the factions of white kids and black kids on the Isle of Dogs – that makes him the man that he is and suffuses World’s End FM with its humanity and warmth. It can be heard in Collateral Cause: a driving, lush hymn to defiance in the face of threats to the body and spirit. It is there in Run (a live recorded, Caribbean-infused back-a-yard Western of a tune that first existed in demo form six years ago) and in the closing track, End of the World, which features a sprawling chorus of voices giving their last rites, Baker’s poetic, Gil Scot-Heron-like pronouncements and a typically unflinching, necessary conversation about depression and male suicide (“I’m trying to help the boys better themselves and drop their guard,” he notes, his voice cracking. “Me and my friends are good people and that’s the kind of world we like to create”). And it is very much there in Almost Lost London, a sumptuous, widescreen coda of ragged strings and swelling melodies, that feels like Blur’s Universal amid the wreckage of revolution, and underlines World’s End FM’s paradoxically hopeful message. A message that, disillusioned as he was after a few years living in rapidly gentrifying and unequal parts of east London, Baker needed to deliver to himself as much as to anyone else. “I don’t serve no tick box merchant – I serve myself first and working class people that struggle for a reason to smile and believe in themselves,” he says, in a quiet voice. “That song is about normal people who make music maybe making a little bit of money so they can represent London and how they feel.” He pauses to gather himself. “Maybe we can put money into youth clubs, give a bit of a public bollocking to the government and also ask why it’s the working man and working establishments that should be bled dry first when cuts are being made. We’re the cogs of this whole place and the city is relying on us.” Hak Baker’s debut broadcasts this message of unity, protest and collective power loud and clear, while also announcing him as a vital, inimitable voice for those often denied one. Rip it up and start again. The end of the world has never sounded so bold, so imaginative, or so thrillingly full of the glorious, chaotic wonder of life