Written by Sophie Wyatt
Rap mockumentary series, ‘Dropped’, is the latest stand out show to land on Channel 4’s, 4 Comedy on YouTube. Since launching last year, the platform has become a hit. With shows and videos tailored to providing younger audiences with their daily dose of comedy and realness. Produced by Mother’s Best Child, ‘Dropped’ follows East London rap collective ATM as they struggle to stay current in a savage music industry.
Based on real life stories informed by legendary DJ and music producer Rude Kid and Dropped writer Justin Smith Uzomba, formerly known as rapper Mikil Pain, the show is filled to the brim with hilarity and hard hitting themes. The series also features cameos from Zeze Millz, Man Like Haks, Kae Kurd, and Victor Kunda, with a soundtrack produced by Rude Kid himself.
The premise of the show follows Shella (Iain Gordon) and XEN1 (Ren Boateng), who are plummeting fast, following the release of their 2016 with their grime banger, ‘Man Be Flexin’. Since shooting to fame, the pair find themselves in a series of bad record deals and a few cheap hits. Now in 2023, ATM must fight to protect their legacy and keep up with the latest trends, which is tricky when your bank balance has lost a couple of zeros. Championed by their trusty fixer Plugz (Priscilla Fagbemi) and filmed by Camerman, Jackz (Ameziane Aissaoui), the five-part comedy ‘documentary’ intended to reel off ATM’s accolades, instead reveals a string of embarrassing scenarios the boys find themselves in. In a world where flex is king, ATM are skint, and it’s normally up to their long-suffering manager Clara (Lola Jagun) to bail them out. The series taps into universal themes of ambition, greed, ego, unfulfilled potential and unpaid hire purchase bills.
We caught up with Iain Gordon to discuss the behind the scenes of this one of the kind production and how he resonated with his character Shella. Iain explained that from the jump, the vibes on set were something special; “Speaking to Justin [Smith Uzomba] on set, he said when he saw me, Priscilla, Ren and Ameziane he knew that these were the guys. It was quite humbling to hear that.”
Charlie Hyland, Commissioner says: “Channel 4’s digital content is defined by its ability to play with form, encapsulate youth culture and showcase a calibre of new and upcoming talent. ‘Dropped’ embodies all of that and more, blending an utterly original mix of UK rap culture, humour and authenticity, fuelled by invaluable friendships.” It is these invaluable friendships that really make the show. The complexity of the friendships in the show is palpable and the relationships created on set really adds to its authenticity. Iain went on to delve into just what it was like working on the project. “I can’t lie I enjoyed it a lot. At the beginning I felt the pressure because of the time scale, but that quickly went away because I’m lucky in that I can learn lines really quickly. The first day all of us met on set, it was an instant connection, good vibes and positive energy. It put my mind at ease. Every day was full of laughter and you’d just leave on a high. It was definitely the best set I’ve ever worked on, an unforgettable project.”
‘Dropped’ has running themes of trying to stay up to date with a constantly changing system of trends. In an age of ever-changing algorithms and apps such as TikTok, it’s hard for artists not to either fall into the rhythm of performing to these factors, or finding themselves alienated by them. Iain explained, “I think at the moment there are a lot of artists that are still trying to keep up with trends and doing stuff that everyone else is doing because the majority of people are liking it. There are only a few artists that are saying ‘I’m gonna do me, if people like it people like it’. We’re getting more and more artists in the UK especially who are coming out and just being them and create for themselves. I think that’s what real music is about, creating it for yourself.”
Iain’s character Shella holds a vital part in ‘Dropped’, and takes viewers on a real journey, as well as a comedic one. And the actor explained that it wasn’t as hard as we may think to slip into this role. “I connected to this character in a lot of ways. Having that will and that belief in self. I feel like a lot of people give up if they run into a problem, but if you believe in yourself… you don’t even need anyone else to believe in you, as long as you do you can do anything. I resonate with that a lot. Through the years I’ve had a lot of people ask if what I’m doing is tangible or whether it will succeed, but you know what, I know my vision and I’m gonna follow it.”
Finally we asked Iain what he wants viewers to feel when they watch the show. Aside from loving the show of course, he made some points about both the light-hearted and more serious aspects to ‘Dropped’ that he hopes really come through. “I want people to laugh, but I also want people to feel the rawness of it. Because while there’s a lot of comedy to it, there’s some real storylines running through it – themes that people actually face, especially young people. I want them to know that you don’t have to follow trends, that you can just be yourself.”