Mikill Pane is a London-born rapper most well known for his debut album, Blame Miss Barclay, and his high profile collaborations with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Rizzle Kicks and Paloma Faith. His brand of hip-hop/indie is notable for his witty lyrics, his positivity and the unique style of music he raps to which is markedly different to that of traditional rappers.
|Genre(s)||Rap, Indie, Hip-hop|
Born January 1, 1985, Justin Smith Uzomba, better known by his stage name Mikill Pane, started writing poems at the age of eight and developed his tongue-in-cheek style from TV comedy influences such as Harry Enfield and Third Rock from the Sun. Justin attended St Aloysius secondary school in Highgate, London from which he got expelled for writing a risqué love letter to a girl having already been in a fight with Euan Blair, son of Tony Blair, earlier that year, claiming the letter was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”¹.
Mikill said of the fight in an interview with Hackney Gazette: “He insulted me. We both threw punches. You are a bit more pugnacious – we were kids. From then on it was a downward slope. I think they were waiting for the opportunity to get rid of me. I never really belonged there – I was from around here [Hackney].”¹
Mikill Pane was inspired to start writing rap after getting into petty trouble with the law, joining a short-lived rap group and eventually going it alone to enable him to write more positive lyrics than the negative street lyrics his peers were writing.¹
2010-2012: Party Animal EP and collaboration with Ed Sheeran
He began releasing music in 2010 with his debut EP The Guinness & Blackcurrant, shortly followed by Party Animal EP which included songs like Party Animal Remix (listen below). With these two EP’s, Pane announced himself and his unique witty and clever brand of rap to the world.
(Taken from the Party Animal EP)
Mikill Pane and his DJ collaborator, Will Power, used to spend endless nights playing open mic nights in London, getting to gigs by bike even in the pouring rain². Whilst gigging around the London music scene, Pane met Ed Sheeran with whom he developed a lasting friendship with, eventually going on to collaborate on Pane’s most popular track Little Lady.
In an interview with Hackney Gazette, Mikill Pane talks of how he first met Ed: “Before my radio interview, this entourage of people brought in a red-haired kid with a guitar. I was thinking: ‘He’s so dishevelled and unkempt, I bet he’s an amazing musician’ – because he’s not bothered about his image, so you can tell all he cares about is the music. He played his first song You Need Me I Don’t Need You, and I was blown away.”
The pair then started going to each other’s gigs and Ed would sometimes sleep on Pane’s parents’ sofa as he was homeless at the time. Ed then asked him to record with him on his collaborations EP and the song they recorded together, Little Lady, became Mikill Pane’s most popular song to date.
(Taken from No.5 Collaborations Project by Ed Sheeran released in 2011)
2012-2014: SB.TV breakthrough and Blame Miss Barclay
In 2012 Mikill Pane released three EP’s: Dirty Rider, The Morris Dancer and You Guest It – the latter being a free SB.TV exclusive consisting of collaborations with other artists including Ed Sheeran, Jakwob, Paloma Faith and Example. The You Guest It EP was Pane’s first taste of critical success as it gained huge media attention and positive reviews from notable music magazines.
In 2013, Mikill Pane went on to release three more EP’s – Good Feeling, Chairman of the Bored and Lucky Strike before releasing his debut album Blame Miss Barclay. The album received a moderate amount of attention but only reached number 62 on the UK albums chart, not enough to allow him to breakthrough into the mainstream. Blame Miss Barclay showcased more of Pane’s genre-diversity with vibes of ska, indie, reggae, acoustic and hip-hop accompanying his ever observational lyrics. He released Summer In The City (listen below) from the album with the lyrics a commentary on the rare sight of the sun in England “…but my friends it’s like a trophy, England’s never got it for long. You know it’s fucked up when even the Met office are wrong.”
(Taken from Blame Miss Barclay released in 2013)
Pane also released Good Feeling from the album which became one of his most popular songs, but only reached number 174 in the UK singles chart. Following on from his debut album, Pane then released a follow up to You Guest it EP with a new collaborations EP entitled You Guest it too. The album featured collaborations from the likes of Newton Faulkner, Lorde and Gnarly Ventura.
2014-present: The Godfather EP and Let MC It
In 2014 Pane released a new EP, The Godfather, which further experimented with styles, incorporating sounds from an African choir and using electronics to impressive effect.
(Taken from The Godfather EP, 2014)
2015 was a quiet year for Mikill Pane, only releasing the odd track such as Fly Shit and Trafalgar Square. However, he returned in 2016 with a brand new EP, Let MC It, which featured collaborations with the likes of Giggs and Doc Brown. The record sounds like a bit of a step away from the style he so well established, incorporating much more traditional rap themes in his songs with a song titled GNGSTRS and lyrics from collaborators that are a little darker in tone.
- The Guinness & Blackcurrant EP (2010)
- Party Animal EP (2010)
- Dirty Rider EP (2012)
- The Morris Dancer EP (2012)
- You Guest It EP (2012)
- Good Feeling EP (2013)
- Chairman Of The Bored EP (2013)
- Lucky Strike EP (2013)
- Blame Miss Barclay (2013)
- You Guest It Too EP (2013)
- The Godfather EP (2014)
- Let MC It EP (2016)
Mikill Pane has his own Podcast hosted on Soundcloud³which is called TBC whilst they come up with a fitting name. TBC has been running since 2016 and follows a roundtable format that covers a wide range of social topics and talk about the music industry.
Pane is an avid poster on Twitter, posting funny social commentary and has amassed over 48K followers.