Plan B has shifted more than a million records, banked a fortune and is just about to release a film he has written and directed.
But the tough-talking Brit winner…real name Ben Drew…certainly hasn’t forgotten his own tough background growing up in east London.
And last summer’s riots have been weighing heavily on his mind. They have spurred his work on his powerful new film iLL Manors…and also his rage.
He said: “I’ll never forget where I come from. I could have been one of those kids on the streets last summer.
“Nothing has changed since then. What’s to stop it happening again?
“I want my music and movie to help kids like me, who have been forgotten about and laughed at. I know it has that power.”
Others know it too. Plan B’s new single is reflectiung a generation of youths who have lost hope.
Plan B has been working flat-out to get the film, which he calls a “hip-hop musical”, out so that these youths’ voices can be heard.
He gave me a preview and, speaking in the West London studio where he has been cooped up, explained: “I want iLL Manors to open people’s eyes from all classes.
“And it’s to give hope to kids on estates. Hip-hop changed my life. I want it to change theirs too.”
Shot on the same East End estate where the rapper was raised, the flick is heavily inspired by the London riots and features real footage of the torching of the capital.
Ben, who won a Brit award for Best Male and three Ivor Novello songwriting gongs last year, said: “We need to know why the riots happened.
“We need to know why there are so many kids in this country that don’t feel they have a future, who don’t give a fuck and don’t care about a criminal record.”
He doesn’t blame them for rioting and seethed: “Society doesn’t give a fuck about them. They were showing they don’t give a fuck about society. But I know their opinion can be changed.”
The rapper could easily have ended up just like the rioters he is desperate to help.
Brought up in Forest Gate, East London his dad Paul Ballance, a former punk rocker, left home when Ben was five months old.
Ben was kicked out of school at 16 for fighting, got into a bar brawl and had to deal with a raid on his home by armed police.
by Wallace McTavish