Ben Drew on success despite a tough background – and helping other lost kids
The once hard-to-reach kids like Ben Drew, aka Plan B, often make the most musical magic. The chart-topping, Brits and Ivor Novello-winning, soul-singing rap star from East London enjoyed smash successes with The Defamation of Strickland Banks and the soundtrack of the movie he directed, Ill Manors.
But as the son of a single mum and an absent musician dad, the teenage Drew – now 34 – was kicked out of school and sent to a PRU (Pupil Referral Unit).
“That’s where I was given the support and confidence to pursue music,” he reveals.
“Years after I left, I came back and found there wasn’t a music department there any more.”
Drew, now releasing his first new music in five years, has become a married man and is now a proud father.
His success has brought personal changes. He says he didn’t want the same troubled childhood relationship he had with his own father between him and his daughter.
“I know what it’s like to have a void like that in your life,” he says. “I’m not going to repeat the cycle.
“Coming back to the business of music is hard because touring and promoting an album means less time with my family. On the other hand, I’m excited to be releasing new music and to be performing live again.”
Drew also keeps a close connection with his roots – helping to fund the music programme Each One Teach One (EOTO) – set up to step in when PRUS disappear.
“We are in the dark ages when it comes to the psychology of how to deal with the issue of hard-toreach kids in our society,” he says.
“Year after year the problem has been left to get worse, to the point where some kids in our society now think it’s OK to go around throwing acid at people.
“Then, when an organisation like mine comes up with a viable solution to tackling the problem, there is no financial support.
“This baffles me as we’ve proved that it works. Last year we had a 25% success rate in the number of students being enrolled back into mainstream education – unprecedented. Before EOTO, it was 0%.
“I can only put this lack of support down to society’s apathy and frustration towards these kids. People need to stop thinking about these activities as a reward and start thinking about them as rehabilitation.”
Single Heartbeat is out now. Forthcoming studio album, Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose is out on April 13
‘I know what troubled family relationships are like... I won’t repeat the cycle with my daughter’
EXCITED Ben is looking forward to performing live again