Bugzy Malone is a rap sensation, an actor, a clothing designer, and – in his words – a man who is ‘capable of anything’.
On the brink of his biggest UK tour to date, which includes a massive homecoming gig at Manchester’s AO Arena, Bugzy’s rise to the big leagues didn’t come easy.
He had to break into an industry that was stubbornly focused on London, escape a life of ‘struggle’, and put in serious graft.
He’s at the highest point of his career so far – and yet, this will be his final tour.
In an exclusive interview with The Manc, we hear about Bugzy’s retirement from the touring circuit, his memories of finding fame in Manchester, and how he got into ‘the shape of his life’.
‘People call me the king of the north’
Growing up in Crumpsall, Bugzy Malone is a born-and-bred, loud and proud Mancunian.
He’s been dubbed ‘King of the North’ – also the name of his chart-topping EP – which is a title he takes seriously.
“I see it as my duty to give a good account of myself for the north so people can come after me and be taken seriously,” he tells us.
“I was the first Manchester artist to get taken seriously in what was a London-centric industry, in my genre of music anyway – obviously there was Oasis and things like that.
“We’ve laid a foundation here for other rappers from the north of England to go into the industry and make a serious impact.”
He name-checks a couple of rising stars from our region – Moston-born Aitch and ‘very talented’ rapper Meekz Manny.
“All I would really say to them guys is ‘Keep going’,” he says.
“The talent’s there in Manchester but the belief system’s not.
“I’m hoping this tour will demonstrate that it can happen – it’s been six years and here I am performing at the arena in my hometown.”
‘Who better to headline the Manchester Arena than me?’
Bugzy Malone will be the first solo grime artist to headline Manchester’s enormous AO Arena.
It’s a big undertaking to perform in front of a crowd of 21,000 but he’s match-ready.
“For the first rapper from my genre to headline the Manchester Arena, who better than me to do it?” he asks.
“As you know, Manchester’s a unit. To stand there with my audience, who are a real loyal bunch of individuals.
“They’re my people – the people I was getting on the bus with, the people I was sat on the tram with, the people I was walking in the Arndale with. That’s a real deep connection.
“You can’t beat the atmosphere at a Manchester show.”
He promises that there are ‘serious surprises’ in store on the Resurrection tour, adding: “There are people coming out on stage to perform with me that’s going to blow people’s minds that they’re coming out on tour with me.”
‘Parklife was a big moment’
The AO Arena gig is a big deal, but it’s not the first time the star has been faced with a huge hometown crowd.
He was one of the headliners of Parklife festival back in 2018, a performance that stands out for him.
“I went there nervous,” he admits. “You do wonder if anyone will care when you rock up on stage.
“But I remember I couldn’t see to the back of the audience, it was just thousands of people out on the field.
“The reaction was insane. When I rolled up on stage it was just a complete shutdown.
“That for me stands out as a big moment and a moment when I knew that my hometown was behind me and I’d built to a big place.”
‘You’re not supposed to go shopping when your face is in the window’
Bugzy’s fame has grown exponentially since his days of freestyling on YouTube (he’s now amassed more than 320m views), and the journey has come full circle.
He says he remembers window-shopping at JD (though he was always ‘nervous’ browsing in Selfridges, which is ‘a bit posh’) with his mates as a teenager.
Then the first time he was recognised and asked for a photograph was also in a JD.
And now, his face is in the windows.
He says: “There are things that I miss from when I wasn’t famous – Manchester is a real community-based place and I was a kid who was just everywhere all the time.
“You start becoming a little bit famous and that becomes harder to navigate.
“For the first year I’d be looking at my friends like ‘This is mad isn’t it?’ but eventually you start to understand the connection with you and your fans.
“And then flipping heck, eventually we had the clothing [his range B.Malone] in JD.
“I was still in the habit of running in there for a pair of trainers but one time I was shopping and there was a big picture of me.
“It started to not look right and not feel right. The perception is that you’re not supposed to be in there buying a pair of Nikes when your face is in the window.”
‘Touring is too big of an obligation’
While he’s promised to keep making music, and working the festival circuit, there won’t be a tour of this scale again.
He’s just not got the time with his fingers in so many pies, and refuses to do anything half-heartedly.
“I’ve just got to a stage now where my time’s just really taken up with the bigger picture of where I’m going and where I’m expanding to, so instead of half-heartedly doing anything, I thought I’ll go and do some festivals and connect with people there, but in terms of a tour, it’s a little bit too big of an obligation.
“I’d rather give this one my everything.
“People will get 100% of me, but next year, the year after, if I’ve got three or four films lined up and big business ventures flowing, I can’t promise that.
“And that’s what’s important for me. As long as I put 100% in, I’m happy.”
Bugzy appeared in Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen alongside Hugh Grant and Matthew McConaughey, and has recently been filming alongside Jason Statham in Doha, again on a Guy Ritchie project, due to for release in January.
Acting is time-consuming, he’s discovering, saying: “It all involves a lot of commitment to rehearsals and a lot of commitment to training.
“I’m a secret agent now,” he jokes, “I had to look cool, you know?
“I’m in the film with Jason Statham and as you know, he’s in crazy shape, so I had to put myself through my paces to get into the shape of my life.
“I turned up in the Middle East for that film and I was in solid shape, I won’t lie to you, and it’ll be the same process for the tour.
“It makes you a sharper individual.
“I’ve got myself to a level of fitness now where I’m capable of anything.”
‘It takes hard work and dedication to transcend the position you start in’
Bugzy repeatedly circles back to the message of inspiring future generations.
“I have an investment in people that come from a similar situation to me, which was basically struggle,” he says.
“It takes hard work and dedication to transcend the position you start in.
“You’ve got to figure out who you want to be and build yourself up.
“Any ventures that I’ve got going on, it’s a new opportunity to speak to my audience and teach lessons.
“Everything I do is about the narrative of get up out of bed and create yourself some freedom – financially and psychologically.”
Bugzy Malone will play at the AO Arena on Saturday, December 4. Final tickets are now on sale through Gigs and Tours.
Featured image: Publicity picture
Man uncovers long lost photos in charity shop depicting historic suffragette march
Whilst digging away in a charity shop, a man has uncovered a set of old Victorian era glass slides depicting what appears to be Women’s Sunday – a suffragette march held in London, organised by Moss Side’s own Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).
Amongst a heap of slides that appear to be taken sometime around the early 1900s, one depicts a large group featuring women in the signature stripy hats worn by the protest group.
What’s more their new owner, Ray Newman, has even suggested that one of the photos may depict Emmeline Pankhurst herself.
Writing on Twitter, he shared a thread of the images with his followers: adding short commentary to each one.
One the photo in question, he comments: “If you zoom in on the woman in dark clothing seen looking towards the camera from between two PCs she looks like Emmeline Pankhurst, or am I fooling myself?”
Others have chimed in with suggestions as to the date of the photograph, with one writing: “The boater straw hats plus mutton sleeves equals c.1910.”
Given that the Women’s Sunday protest was held just two years prior to this in 1908, it does seem possible that this incredibly old photograph has captured one of the biggest moments in the suffragette’s history.
The event, organised by Pankhurst’s WSPU, featured the organisation’s colours (purple, white and green) for the first time in public. In days leading up to the event, over 10,000 scarves in the colours were sold at two shillings and elevenpence each, whilst men donned ties in solidarity.
Held to persuade the then Liberal government to support votes for women, the march is thought to have been the largest demonstration to be held until then in the country – drawing around 30,000 women marched to Hyde Park in seven processions.
Of course, the photos not being dated or marked in any way, it is hard to know if these really are images of Emmeline Pankhurst and the historic march but there are quite a few people online speculating that it could well be.
Several have pointed to the seemingly large police presence (and one person claims to have counted eleven officers), suggesting that that could indeed point to it being a photograph of a large suffragette protest.
Elsewhere amongst the collection of photos, images show a stately home, school or institution with flamingos outside, what appears to be a boy scout troop or group of cadets armed with rifles, boaters on the water at Alexandra Park, and a number of people posing in period dress.
Writing above a picture that depicts an old British high street, Ray comments on how the glass slides are tricky to scan adding that he had to “do it with my phone against a bright white screen.”
He continues: “This is a high street… somewhere… c.1910, I’d guess. I can see a sign for an inn with an ‘excellent motor garage’ but can’t work out any more than that.”
Above another, he said: “A stately home, school or institution. There are statues of flamingos on the left. Definitely haunted. (House and slide.)”
Offering a fascinating look into a lost world, some of the images are over 100 years old and taken when photography was something of a new art form. Unlike today, when everyone has a camera in their pocket, to own a camera was something of a rarity – making these images even more intriguing.
If you would like to see the full thread of pictures uncovered by Ray, you can do so by clicking here.
Feature image – Ray Newman
Rugby legend, ultra-marathon runner, inspiration | Kevin Sinfield — Manc of the Month November 2022
It’s that time of the month again (no, not that one): it’s time to pick our Manc of the Month for November and while there were plenty to pick from, one man has stood out in the past few weeks.
Kevin Sinfield is the ex-rugby player turned coach, ultra-marathon-runner and mega-fundraiser from our very own Oldham who did something truly amazing earlier this month.
The 42-year-old former loose forward, who currently serves as a defensive coach for the Leicester Tigers in the rugby union, has gone from a Manc-born sporting role model to a national hero thanks to his extremely admirable charity work over the past couple of years.
This bloke is a machine.
Seven ultra-marathons in seven days
For anyone unaware of Sinfield’s latest exploits, the former Leeds Rhinos player and director undertook the immense ‘Ultra 7 in 7‘ challenge earlier this month, tasking himself with the ridiculous feat of running seven ultra-marathons in seven days.
To put that into context, a standard marathon measures just over 26 miles or 42 kilometres; ultra marathons regularly clock in at 50km or more. Sinfield is said to have covered more than 256 miles (approx. 417km), averaging more than 60km a day. Insane.
Finishing the series of ultra-marathons alongside his dedicated team of runners on November 19 at Old Trafford, just in time for the 2022 Rugby League World Cup final, he was met with rapturous applause from the crowd — and rightly so.
The ex-Rhinos and England international set himself the target of raising £777,777 for Motor Neuron Disease in honour of his former teammate and equally inspiring close friend, Rob Burrow. He went on to absolutely smash that goal, amassing an incredible £1.4 million in donations in just a week.
Moreover, just last year he put himself through similarly unimaginable levels of strain by running a 24-hour marathon for the first time, raising over £1m for MND in November 2021 alone.
Again, this man is utterly remarkable.
Covering more than double the distance he managed the last time around, raising a total of over £2.3m across his two 7 in 7 ultra runs, it cannot be understated how much he has done for more than five different motor neuron disease charities in just a few short years.
Even before his latest heroics, Sinfield’s contributions to motor neuron awareness and fundraising were recognised by the local ouncil alongside record-breaking rower and Oldham native, Frank Rothwell, who were both bestowed with the little-known ‘Freedom of the Borough’ award back in March.
As for this year’s ultra-marathon challenge, his route saw him trek all the way from Edinburgh, through various parts of Yorkshire and, finally, back down to his home county of Greater Manchester. Not even bathroom breaks could stop him.
Compelled to run and raise as much as possible to support the MND community and honour Burrow, who was diagnosed with the disease back in 2019, Sinfield has made it his mission to help raise awareness and fund research into the rare condition which affects the brain and nervous system.
Joined by peers like footballer Stephen Darby as well as late rugby union colleague and fellow MND suffer Doddie Weir, who sadly passed away just last week, these and many more who supported Sinfield’s campaign have done untold levels of good when it comes to highlighting the disease.
Since beginning his fundraising journey in 2019, Kevin Sinfield has now raised over £7 million for the Motor Neuron Disease Association (MNDA) and related charities through his ultra-marathons and other charitable efforts, a miraculous and potentially fortune-changing amount that could save countless lives.
This absolute hero has already helped raise in excess of £2.6m all told with this year’s Ultra 7 in 7 alone, but if you want to join the millions of people still donating then you can do so HERE.