During the hazy summer of 2008, a powerful, mystical, peaceful, force emerged in the UK's music, political and social scene. A new age was awakening, thanks to the actions of one visionary young man. Encapsulating the strife of a generation, Frimpong? proved to influence hoardes of young aficionados with his hypnotic beats and enigmatic presence.
This is an extract from a (slightly edited) article by Owen Jones, which appeared in The Guardian (13 December 2011) entitled "Who is Frimpong??" (The title has also been slightly edited):
It's Summer 2008, the fresh and exciting wobbles of Dubstep are sweeping across UK dancefloors, Colleen Mcloughlin is becoming Mrs. Wayne Rooney, and Barack Obama is in the midst of an historic American Presidential election campaign. However, something unarguably more seismic than any of these events is taking place in the bedroom of one young man, somewhere in the UK. Armed with a computer and an unwavering ethical code, Frimpong? was about to spark the biggest cultural movement since the Gallagher brothers marched their way into the global conscience in the nineties. Frimpong?'s unique sub-genre, known as Anti-climactic Frip-Hop, found essential breathing space in the crowded world of electronic music. Like all things good, Frimpong? did not last. The controversial artist stepped away from the limelight after one release, satisfied that he had made his statement. It is an accepted truth that we would not be where we are today without Frimpong?'s debut (and final) album - The Hooaan EP. The following is a retrospective of Frimpong?'s brief yet impactful career, and how his foray into the public eye changed everything, forever.
When asked for his thoughts on Frimpong? in a 2009 NME interview, Liam Gallagher's response was telling. "He's a cunt, but I love him," Gallagher snortled through the crumbs of a blueberry muffin, "what was that one he did? Fly like a seagull [the catchy refrain from the hit A Cold Sore of Love and Lust]? That's a proper tune. Noel fucking hates him though. Jealous bastard". Frimpong?'s admirers weren't limited to the troublesome Mancunian songsmith. In 2008, The Hooaan EP was a fixture on the set-list of almost every dance music DJ, from Joy Orbison to Andy C (who was later famously accused of plagiarising Suckin' Cotton). Despite never performing live, nor making a single public appearance, due to a crippling fear of both artificial and natural light (known in the medical community as All Lightophobia"), Frimpong? was the most talked about artist at festivals across the globe soon after The Hooaan EP had been released. In the USA, Burning Man festival set light to a wooden structure bearing the iconic cover art of The Hooaan EP to honour the mysterious producer's effect on the world.
Of course, Frimpong? is rightly revered across the musical field. However, it was the mark he left on politics in his native UK that separates this groove giver from other contemporary record bag filler. "I can honestly say that nothing has had as much of an impact on my socio-political outlook as the music of that young jive provider," MP Tony Benn told me when I contacted him. "I can still remember the first time I heard Yellow Toothed Crocodile 2. [MP] Jeremy Corbyn had gotten a hold of a copy of that record after hearing it at a CND march, and invited me over to his house in Islington to give it a listen. I arrived and Jeremy was sweating profusely, in a real state, curtains drawn and all that. I asked him what was wrong and he just shook his head. He pushed play on his minidisc player and let it happen. We haven't looked back since." Frimpong? has been credited with changing the UK's left wing into a truly progressive movement, invigorating a social conscience into politics through his unique examination of male fragility. The fact that Completely and Utterly Frimpong ed is currently on the curriculum for A-Level Sociology students pays testament to Frimpong?'s gravitas in this wider sphere. That being said, his journey has also attracted its fair share of enemies. Michael Heseltine famously wrote a much maligned comment piece for The Daily Telegraph entitled "Frimpong?? More like Fuckpong! The Cheeky Bastard", in which the Former Deputy Prime Minister launched a tirade against what he called "a dangerous social movement that threatens the very fabric of our communities and businesses". When contacted for comment, Mr. Heseltine's office responded with a one-worded e-mail - "Fuckpong". Benn calls this "the battle cry of those who are seeing their power crumble before their very eyes 'neath the immense weight of Anti-climactic Frip-Hop... beautiful isn't it?"
Mr. Benn's first Frimpsperience (as his fans call it) was not unique in its impact on the listener. One look at the experimental music producer's fan-site, www.areyoufrimpsperienced.tw.at, will let you in on just a fraction of the stories that exist regarding his oeuvre. Most recount how Frimpong has changed people's lives and weltanschauung through his transcendental foot stompers - if you have a spare twenty minutes and fancy a tear jerker be sure to check out 'Frimpong? Saved my Life, and I'm NOT Joking' by the ever brilliant Elizabeth Wurtzel. Personally, I will never forget my sister coming home with The Hooaan EP record in her hands, smiling from cheek to cheek, before racing off to her room to find out whether what her friends had told her was true. As soon as I heard the playground laughter that precedes A Cold Sore of Love and Lust through my sister's bedroom door, I was transported to a better place, where things made sense. Frimpong? made me feel good about myself, he opened up my generation's world to a different way of thinking about capitalism, the potential for revolution. He made me realise that we are just people, but we can change things. So we'll march day and night beneath the big cooling tower, they have the plant but we have the power. He let me know that together... together we can change the world...
After two long weeks of hassling his Dad, whose fax number I had found in a telephone box, I was finally accorded the chance to talk to my hero. According to Frimpong?'s father, he had heard of my work and was impressed. He was prepared to answer one question from me, and no more. One thing I've learnt from my trade is that you take what you can get from those filed under the 'Genius' section in music stores. So I sent him my question:
"Frimpong? , as a fan, as a journalist, as someone whose life was changed the moment I heard your music, please let us know; what was your main inspiration for your masterpiece, The Hooaan EP?"
I hit send and my palms started sweating. "What if he thinks I'm an idiot?" "What if he doesn't like my question?" Within seconds of my message dissappearing into the ether of the internet, my house phone rang. It couldn't be, could it? I picked it up. A deep, creaky, knowing voice came down the line, it was like how I imagine the universe would sound if it could talk.
"Have you ever seen a man cry before?"
I started panicking, I felt my voice crack under the pressure.
"No." I managed to get out.
A profound laugh burst through the earpiece of my telephone, then a pause, before Frimpong?(could it really be him?) unleashed the most beautiful weep I've ever heard. I laughed hesitantly, unsure what to say. Soon enough I couldn't hold back the flow of my own tears. "This is it", I thought, not even bothering to wipe the moisture away from my face, letting my salty tears fall to the vinyl floor in my kitchen, letting them form a pool around my feet. We wept to each other for the next ten minutes. In that ten minutes I understood love, pain, hate, and envy; and let it all wash over me. Frimpong taught me that sometimes in life you have to let things go. You have to let things "fly like a seagull".
Obviously, if this ^^ music is still running, turn it off b4 listening to the master