C Cane: ‘When people see me, they tend to feel intimidated’

C Cane: ‘When people see me, they tend to feel intimidated’

My Element: Built by Grime — As part of Huck's new film on UK grime culture, we meet C Cane – the north London MC and Reprezent presenter taking the capital’s radio waves by storm.

When C Cane arrived on the scene, her tongue-twisting freestyles platformed by 1Xtra and Rinse stunned grime fans. Since then, the north London MC has conquered acoustic tracks, afrobeats, and has been given her own show on Reprezent.

How did you know that you wanted to become a musician?
I didn’t know, but I knew. I did football for instance, but I also did music on the side. Then I did basketball but then I did music on the side. In college, I did accounting, mathematics and economics… with music on the side! It got to a point where I kept bunking all my lessons to do music or stay after school to do music and it was like, who am I really kidding? It’s what I’m meant to do.

Because you’re an MC, and you spit a certain way, people think certain things of you. Does your radio show give you a chance to show another side?
When people see me, they tend to feel intimidated. I’m six foot – and even though I’m a smiley person, if no one’s talking to me and I’m minding my own business, I’m not smiling. So people just feel like I’m rude, or because they’ve heard some of my angry bars, they feel I’m one of those stoosh girls. But I’m bare bubbly, and with the radio show, I feel that you get to see who I am by the way that I talk in between my segments.

What does it feel like to be on the radio?
I feel gassed. It’s two hours of music non-stop with me talking in between, and I love music. At home, all I do is listen to music, so to be somewhere for two hours playing music that I like and people getting to know who I am by listening to what I’m saying – I feel gassed. I’m just jumping around dancing to myself.

C Cane 2


Has anyone ever told you that you can’t do this?
In secondary school, the boys used to be like: ‘I can do this, I can do that, what can you do?’ That motivated me to pick up all these instruments. I was like, ‘cool, I’m going to prove you wrong.’

With my parents, they hate it. They’re African parents. It’s not that they hate me chasing my dreams, it’s the thing I’m doing: a lot of people have tried and failed, and it’s not steady income, so they don’t want me to fail or not have money. I understand they don’t want me to do music, but it’s my life. I take it on board, but I use it as motivation.

C Cane 3

Is there a point you’ll get to where your parents will support you, do you think?
I did a BBC 1Xtra freestyle where I started speaking in my mother tongue [Lingala]. When I did that my parents were in Congo – someone came up to them with their phone and said, ‘oh have you seen this girl spitting in Congolese?’ Little did they know, it was me. So they called me and were like, ‘we’re proud of you.’ But they’re back in the country, and they’re like, you need to stop the music. I know when I’m up there, they’ll stop. Until I’m up there, they’re gonna give me grief because they don’t know if I’m gonna succeed or not.

What would you say to people who want to do what you do?
YOLO is what I would say. Are you going to live for yourself, or are you going to live for what society tells you? I went to a meeting and it was about the creative arts in London. They said the government shuns the art section but they big up maths and literature. But if you look around, everything starts with art: car design, your camera, someone had to draw it. Your trainers, someone had to draw it. How can you push art to the side like it’s not equal to all this other stuff? For that reason, keep doing what you do because you never know what you can get out of it.

My Element: Built By Grime is an original Huck Film directed by Irene Baque and produced by Grace Shutti.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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