Dec 06, 2022
Having made a name with his moving portrayal of Aaron on the hit Netflix series Top Boy, Hope Ikpoku Jnr is keen to let the world know that he has more tricks up his sleeve. Having ventured into the world of music with a string of well-received singles which caught some by surprise, we spoke to Hope to learn more about where he grew up, his journey as a musician, and how he deals with people trying to box him in.
What is your nationality/heritage?
My Mum’s from the Caribbean and my Dad’s Nigerian, so it’s the best of both worlds - I like to have my Jerk with Jollof!
What do your morning and nighttime routines look like?
My morning routine is quite boring to be honest. Obviously all the normal hygiene stuff and then it’s straight to emails so I know how to use my time wisely that day.
At night I don’t do anything work-related. I might hop on the PlayStation or watch a movie, I’ve got over 100 films on my letterboxd watchlist so there’s no shortage of options.
What movies are in your current rotation?
Movies I keep going back to are Interstellar, Sound of Music and Good Will Hunting, they’re just such good movies. More recently I watched Ticket to Paradise and Bullet Train in the cinema. I always like watching new releases in the cinema
You've brought us to your local area, how have your community and the environment you grew up in shaped you?
I’m from Hackney. I’ve been here since birth, I went to school here and most of my friends are from here. I even work with people from Hackney in music too. Even if I didn’t know them growing up we may have one or two mutuals. There’s so much creativity in Hackney and that’s definitely had an impact on me, I love Hackney!
Who are your favourite artists and what songs & projects are you listening to?
I always say that Dave is my favourite artist. Aside from that, I’ve been listening to a range of things. I’ve been listening to SZA’s new song, “Shirt” as well as some A Boogie, Central Cee, Kojey Radical and Arz. Arz is from Hackney too!
After your success as an actor what pushed you to want to make a name for yourself as a musician?
I’ve always enjoyed music, I have a background in musical theatre so I’ve had dance and music as skills alongside acting. I used to write music for fun but only started taking it seriously recently after I realized my passion.
Do you see parallels between being an actor and being a musician?
At the end of the day they are both just ways of telling stories and I consider myself to be a storyteller. I guess the main difference would be that when you act you are often telling someone else’s story but if you write your own music you are telling your own story
How do you deal with people trying to box you in?
I always knew that would be the case when getting started, people were always going to see me as “trying to make music”. I just said to myself I needed a solid period of releases to show that I’m doing this cause I enjoy it and have a talent for it and I’m more than just an “actor trying to make music”, I’m an actor and a musician.
What challenges have you faced on your journey, and how have you overcome them?
The main thing is feeling like I’m starting from zero because obviously, my music isn’t on the same level as my acting. A lot of people know me from my acting pursuits so when it comes to music I’ve got to be strategic and make sure I’m capturing people’s attention.
You have a song called Uni, and your character in Top Boy is a strong academic, what has your relationship been with education?
I had to balance Top Boy with my A levels, both in year twelve and thirteen. I did quite well with my grades, but I had to bring my books to set so it was hard to balance that, I put off a lot of the work until Year 13.
Your most popular track on Spotify is “Stop the rain” Talk to me a bit about the story behind that track
I wasn’t even planning to release it, that’s what’s funny. It’s probably like a year old now. I was just in the studio and we made the song without thinking much of it. I used it as a sound on tiktok and people were asking what song it was, using the sound and asking me to drop it so I had to release it, it’s what people wanted！
Describe your music in three words
Hmmm.Introspective. Heartfelt. Lit
What do you want people to take from the new music coming?
The theme is self-reflection which is why I said introspective. The main aim is for listeners to feel like they can have hard conversations with themselves.
What would you say to Hope 5 years ago and 5 years in the future?
To Hope 5 years ago I’d say “Keep working on your craft” - if I could have started making music earlier I would have done that. Same with working on my acting.
To Hope 5 years in the future: No matter what success you achieve, don’t forget the work you put in to get to that point