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Bardcore!!! Ren Rising.


Who the fuck is Ren?


I suspect that some of you that have found their way here already know exactly who Ren is. For those that don’t here is my introduction to the world of Ren as I see it. Now, usually patrons of this blog would expect to be presented with something from the sphere of Global Bass (Baile Funk, Moombahton, Afrobeat, Amapiano etc.), but I’m gonna have to take you down a different path today.


Cards on the table. 1: I am not a journalist. I’m just a geezer that makes music and DJs, but I will try to convey my thoughts in relation to Ren to the best of my abilities: And 2: A little over a month ago I didn’t have a scooby who Ren was, I’d never heard of him! (Scooby = scooby doo – clue) Now I feel like I know him intimately. That is because Ren lays it all out there, the things we don’t usually want people to know about. Our insecurities, fears, self doubts and our darker sides. A masterful storyteller whose virtuosity and artistry leave you breathless and baffled. Also a little jealous, although not for his personal circumstances.


So, what are those circumstances? As I understand it, when Ren was 17 or thereabouts, he got Lyme disease, a condition brought about from a certain ticks bite. If it’s diagnosed correctly it is perfectly treatable, but if not can cause terrible complications healthwise. Unfortunately, it was not diagnosed correctly, leading to a not small amount of suffering. So just as Ren was about to embark on his young adult journey, the fun of one’s 20’s and a record deal with Sony, this was cut short with serious illness that meant he had to spend long stretches confined to a bed, rather than cracking on like the rest of us, whilst not having any idea what was wrong with him. Horrid.


Originally he hailed from the mean streets of Bath (if you know Bath, you’ll know that couldn’t be further from the truth), where he used to busk with his buddies. Later on he moved to Brighton, the seaside town renowned for it’s vibrant music scene and nightlife due to a high concentration of university students. Home to such musical luminaries as Fat Boy Slim, Carl Cox, Bonobo, Bat For Lashes and the label Mr Bongo. In Brighton he picked up his busking guitar again and inserted himself in that scene gathering around him a gang of great musicians and singers who fell in love with Ren and his ridiculous amount of talent. Ren with his crew The Big Push, would do cover versions in their own style, from James Brown to Black Sabbath, gathering large crowds in the streets and creating happenings. He also came across an unassuming young lad with the voice of an angel, Sam Tompkins, who he encouraged to busk with him as well. Then, with his health becoming a little more manageable, Ren (like the rest of us) hit the wall of misery that was the covid lockdown and once again found himself in involuntary confinement. But Ren didn’t waste his time, and set about crafting some incredible music. Ren is not an overnight sensation, he’s been plugging away for a hot minute now. This biography may not be 100% correct, as it’s what I have been able to gather from various interviews etc., so apologies to Ren for any inaccuracies.


Now, I don’t actually know Ren (although I would definitely like to), but I’m pretty sure like all of us, he doesn’t want to be defined by the negative aspects of his life. But, I can’t help but feel that his music may not have been quite so impactful without his travails. So what about that music? Lets have a look:


Hi Ren



This was my (and I’m sure a lot of people’s) first encounter with Ren. Which makes the title “Hi Ren” totally appropriate, as it is like Ren saying, hello, here I am, to the world at large. Now don’t get it twisted, in terms of a global audience, Ren has barely scraped the surface. But the momentum required for recognition is well underway and growing everyday. All done without corporate backing or marketing and mostly achieved through word of mouth, a truly organic growth. He is the essence of an independent artist. Ren has become the darling of the Youtube reaction video community. At this point you could probably spend an entire week just watching people reacting to Ren videos! Ren also interacts with the reactors a lot and you’ll often find messages from Ren himself in their comments sections. And it not one sort of person. Aging rockers, fans of rap, young girls into pop, metal heads, vocal experts, musicians, teenagers to octogenarians  and every demographic in between. Which is why I honestly believe that Ren is on course to becoming a global superstar. So, these reactions to “Hi Ren” generally go as follows:


Step 1:


Reactor states that they have never heard of Ren and have no idea what sort of vibe it is and that they have either seen lots of other reactors reacting to it, or that lots of their followers have been insisting that they check it out.


Step 2:


The vid starts and they are struck by the dilapidated set with a standard lamp and a table lamp on either side of the shot and the fact that Ren is wheeled out to the center of the room in a hospital wheelchair wearing a hospital gown, by a bloody aproned butcher in a pig mask. “I’m getting Saw vibes” is a pretty standard thought. Followed by “what the fuck is going on here”, peaking their interest straight of the bat. It is definitely a striking scene.


Step 3:


The song can basically be broken down into three main acts with an intro/prologue and an outro with an additional epilogue just when you think it’s finished. So step 3 of the reaction happens when Ren starts playing a beautiful classical guitar melody with fab scaling, which raises peoples eyebrows and elicits comments like “okay, that boy can play!”.


Step 4:


Ren then launches into a sort of operatic cantata, that you might call Bach-esque. At this point I was reminded of a begowned choir boy. This is usually when the raised eyebrows are accompanied by saucer eyes and a lot of people pause the vid to state “what the fuck am I watching?”. With some loving it and some not sure at all. This is often the time that it dawns on them that this actually a live performance.


Step 5:


Act 1 starts proper with Ren swinging his posture towards stage right and rapping in a rasping, angry, spit, with the line “Hi Ren, it’s been a little while, did you miss me?“. Eyebrows raise higher. “I did not expect that!” is quite a common phrase used. The lamps are flickering as if there’s a poltergeist in the room.


Step 5:


After the initial bars, Ren then swings his posture to stage left and in a softer cadence seems to speak to the first aspect, “Hi Ren, I’ve been taking some time to be distant“. Here the realization that he’s having a conversation with himself kicks in. I’ve seen lots of postulation as to what’s occurring (which great art should do), but my take is that Ren is battling against the imposter syndrome side of himself, with the side of himself that tries to be positive. Anyone that creates music or paints etc. will be more than familiar with these feelings. I know I am. I’ve always referred to it as “The Fear”. That feeling that can get in the way of me finishing or releasing a track, or even make me feel like I’ve forgotten how to DJ on the way to a gig! This is interposed with Ren’s own experiences with therapy and medication. While Ren is trying to be positive the lights stop flickering and the guitar is much gentler. But his demeanor suggests that he is not 100% convinced by what he’s saying. The neg is much more confident.


Step 6:


At some point by now, most reactors have made a reference to NF or Eninem. Which negative Ren actually refers to, stating “Ren sits down, Has a stroke of genius, He wants to write a song that was not done previous. A battle with his subconscious… Eminem did it“. Reactors, are generally very pleased with themselves for recognizing this, while also acknowledging that Ren has his own original spin on it.


Step 7:


After this internal argument goes on for a while, we reach act 2. The negative side takes control, spitting over raising guitar chords. Beginning with the lines “News flash… I was created at the dawn of creation, I am temptation. I am the snake in Eden, I am the reason for treason” and then several references to demons and the devil. Remember at this point, this is just my interpretation of the meaning, but I think that Ren is saying that this negativity lives in all of us and has done since man became an inwardly thinking being. I seen lots of people implying religious connotations at this point, but in my mind Ren is just using vivid and universal imagery to paint a picture of the conflict in our consciousness. Eyebrows practically on top of heads now. This section culminates in furious raising scaled chords dropping down back to a sweet melody. 


Step 8:


If you’re still with me, then thanks for sticking with it. Act 3 begins. The original rhythm guitar returns and a calmer Ren chimes in “Hi Ren… I’ve been taking some time to be distant, I’ve been taking some time to be still. I’ve been taking some time to be by myself and I’ve spent half my life ill“. My take is that this is the holistic Ren replying to negging Ren. The Ren that has battled these demons and accepted them. It’s during this section that a lot of people get quite emotional, especially as it’s so much more positive than the previous sections. It’s also the first time Ren looks directly into the camera, which is now hand held, and he raises out of the wheelchair. With the most impactful line for me being “And I go by many names also, some people know me as hope. Some people know me as the voice that you hear when u loosen the noose on the rope.” Holy fuck!


Step 9:


The next surprise for reactors is when during this section Ren starts singing in a gorgeous full voice reminiscent of a young Sting and you can’t help but think, “damn is there nothing this fecker can’t do?”. It’s summarizes where he is today, “So cower at the man I’ve become. When I sing from the top of my lungs. That I won’t retire I’ll stand in your fire, inspire the meek to be strong. And when I am gone I will rise, in the music that I left behind. Ferocious persistent, immortal like you, we’re a coin with two different sides.” Again, accepting that life isn’t always fair and you have to play with the cards you’ve been dealt. This is followed by the outro, a call back to the cantata from the intro, this time with strong flamenco type chords and anyone that was weirded out at the beginning, is fully invested now and jamming along nodding their heads. My take is that this represents Ren combining the different aspects of his personality to create his art. The lights are going nuts.


Step 10:


Viewers at this point think it’s over, but Ren’s got one more surprise for you. He puts down the guitar and drops a killer soliloquy jammed with profundity. I’ll let you hear what he has to say for yourself, but again he summarizes the whole song with the closing line “And I must not forget, we must not forget, that we are human beings.” This line is so important because it totally includes you in the whole narrative and says, you’ve got your bullshit, but so has everyone else, no matter how much other people seem to have their shit together from the outside. We all suffer from self doubt, grief and depression at some point. I’d say about 80% of reactors are pretty speechless at the end and need a moment to gather their thoughts. I know I did. Then conclude with “that didn’t feel like nine and a half minutes” and the feeling that they had just witnessed something special.


In my humble opinion, ‘Hi Ren’ is a fucking masterpiece and Ren may well be a bona fide genius, a generational talent, and since hearing it I’ve been telling anyone that’ll listen to check it out. I’ve seen it compared to Bohemian Rhapsody and I can see why. In Britain we have a strong tradition of storytelling songwriters. Alex Harvey, Freddie Mercury, Ian Dury, Billy Bragg (who praised the song) to name but a few. And I think Ren is right up there with the best of them. It is also very rare for someone to approach mental health issues through song, so succinctly and honestly. It makes Ren incredibly relatable.


The Tale Of Jenny And Screech


When I first heard “Hi Ren”, I was terrified to listen to his other work. It couldn’t be as good as this surely? It took me about a week to gather the courage to check out his catalogue. I needn’t have worried, Ren is the real deal. The first thing I listened to was “The Tale Of Jenny And Screech (full)”. A tour de force of storytelling in three parts, with a fabulous twist at the end. A visceral journey that does not disappoint. It will break your heart. Ren doesn’t just write songs, he creates experiences. Almost cinematic or like watching a play.


Chalk Outlines


Yeah, but can he write a regular short form song with verses and choruses? You bet he feckin’ can. Here he teams up with Chinchilla for a song all about whether or not it’s sensible to use prescribed medication. A haunting tune that is yet another one take live performance. And is totally beautiful, a classic. It should be on the radio ffs!


The Hunger


Well he dropped bars in Hi Ren and The Tale Of Jenny And Screech, but can he really rap? Hell yes he can! In “The Hunger” he drops so many different schemes and cadences, that they would challenge any rapper alive. It makes your head spin. And he does not waste one word. Not only that, the beat is absolutely sick! Again it makes you ask, “is there nothing this motherfucker can’t do?”



So, I’ll let you continue down Ren’s rabbit hole for yourself. It’s a journey worth taking, trust me. Check out The Big Push too, coz they are great performances. Finally, at the time of writing this, Ren is currently in Canada undergoing treatment to try and beat this terrible monkey on his back. Which must be so frustrating when he’s getting so much heat at the moment and he can’t just lap it up and enjoy it. But at the end of the day, nothing is more important than one’s well being. He has a gofundme to help pay for the treatments, so if you feel like you want to help, you can make a donation HERE. Or buy some of his merch on his website HERE. Follow his socials, sub his Youtube, spread the word. Personally, from a selfish point of view I want him to get better so he can start gigging and I can go and see him with me own little peepers! And I can’t wait to see what comes next.


Ren, the swell of love you have garnered recently must be truly nourishing for the soul, get well soon brotherman.


Bless up, Bumps x

Posted on: February 18th, 2023 by Bumps