Professor Green and Emeli Sande have a special kind of chemistry.
Their iconic single, Read All About It, was certifiably a monster hit and became the soundtrack of 2011, spending two weeks at number one and earning the second highest first week sales of the year only behind One Direction’s debut single.
Seven years later, the heart-wrenching ballad has aged like fine wine so it only makes sense that Pro Green and Emeli are back in the recording studio making new magic together.
Teasing their forthcoming single, Professor Green told Metro.co.uk: ‘We’ve both been in the studio and we’re back in next week putting the finishing touches to something really special – or that feels special to us!
‘I don’t go into the studio with an idea of the song I’m going to make. With all art, it has to start selfishly. It has to be, what do I want to say? How do I feel? Otherwise it’s not genuine.’
He added: ‘It feels like there’s going to be some big moments on this album than any other that I’ve made before it. There are some really beautiful things coming out of the sessions I’m doing at the moment and the one with Emeli definitely fits into that.’
Could the new Emeli collaboration match the success of Read All About It?
‘I have no idea, I’ve got no expectations,’ the rapper admits.
‘Look at [his new single] Photographs, I had no idea it was going to reach so many people as fast as it did.’
‘It’s funny because the song [he and Emeli have] written is about nostalgia and I think nostalgia is evil in a sense because, if you hold onto those feelings, positive or negative, they’re not physical things you can hold onto.’
Pro Green continued: ‘They’re not tangible and you run the risk of not giving yourself the chance to feel those things again because you’re always holding onto the comparison of something you keep telling yourself you felt.’
He jokingly adds: ‘I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.’
That’s understandable given his new single, Photographs, is all about remembering and cherishing those special memories.
The ballad, which features Rag N’ Bone Man, has inspired a beautiful hashtag – #WishThatITookMorePhotographsOfUs – allowing people to share their most treasured photos with people they may have lost or harking back to fun times.
Reacting to the overwhelming response of the single, Professor Green, real name Stephen Manderson, said: ‘I had no idea but it just really connected with people and it was mind-boggling to me. I couldn’t believe how much a song could resonate with people but I suppose it enforces how important photographs are to people.
‘I don’t see it all as negative, we’re very fortunate to have the photos that we do have. It’s a reminder to just be more conscious about it. We’re in an age where there’s over a billion pictures uploaded to the Internet every single day. But I think it’s a good reminder to be a bit more conscious about the photos we want to look back on and I think that’s a more positive thing.’
The Photographs music video is powerfully poignant with people surrounded by their most important photos and sharing stories of people they’ve lost – plus a sweet cameo from Professor Green’s beloved nan, who helped raise him as a child.
Filming the visuals was ‘fun’ but also an eye-opening experience for the rapper, who learned on camera that his nan doesn’t have any photos with her own children, including Pro Green’s mum.
The reason is simply heartbreaking. His nan’s husband took all their photos with him when he left the family and his new partner ripped them up out of sheer spite, destroying the few physical memories she had.
Pro Green said of the video: ‘To hear them talk about the importance of photographs, both the ones they have and don’t have, just how important they are. This song really contextualises everything.’
One of the video’s opening stories sees a man explain how he lost his younger brother to knife crime, a subject which Professor Green is unapologetically outspoken about.
It particularly infuriates the Remedy rapper that drill music in the UK has been linked to the rise in knife crime by politicians.
The 35-year-old rapper said impassionately: ‘I don’t think drill music is responsible for knife crime at all. They used to blame punk, rap and now drill. As soon as you put the blame of knife crime [on music] you take responsibility away from the people who should actually be doing something about it i.e. the government.’
He continued: ‘What about austerity? You’re taking responsibility out of the government’s hands. There’s a reason middle to upper class people don’t shout about what postcode they come from because that’s not their identity. When you have so little, what becomes your identity? If you have such little purpose, such new opportunities – there are so many contributors to what we have at the moment.
‘I genuinely think it’s just ridiculous to blame music for knife crime. It completely absolves the government for any part they play in this when they impose austerity. They never skim off the top when people have so little, they always skim off the bottom.’
As a proud Hackney native, Professor Green has nothing but support for drill music rapper Unknown T who has made it onto BBC Radio 1’s top playlist with his single Homerton B.
Pro Green said: ‘Think about how many kids are turning their lives around by way of music now. Trying to take that away from them? You think that’s going to help the situation? I
‘It’s why I get so angry when people put it down to music like it’s that simple. “Yeah, we get rid of drill music and there’s no more knife crime”. What kind of idiot says that?’
The I Need You Tonight rapper has spent the last few years focusing on presenting hard-hitting BBC documentaries, which have tackled areas like depression and homelessness.
Now, he’s recharged and ready to take on 2019 with a new album but is grateful that a song like Photographs has ‘completely joined the dots’ between his two passions – music and documentaries – through the conversations it’s started.
He mused: ‘It happened organically, it’s amazing.’
Professor Green and Rag N’ Bone Man’s new single Photographs is out now. You can share your special pictures using the hashtag #WishThatITookMorePhotographsOfUs.
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by – metro.co.uk