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25 March 2014updated 28 Jun 2021 4:45am

Michael Gove loves “chap-hop”, did a rap in praise of Toby Young

There's appropriation, and then there's the education secretary spitting some bars in praise of a friend's free school project in West London. And what the hell is “chap-hop”, anyway?

By media mole

The education secretary, it seems, has a secret love of hip-hop – but, importantly, only when performed by annoying white people.

This, if you’ve never heard of it before, is “chap-hop”:

That’s Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer, the progenitor of this most Home Counties of music genres. The Mail on Sunday revealed on the weekend that Michael Gove is a big fan: “I have a soft spot for contemporary English ‘eccentric’ music. I liked Neil Innes and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band … and am strangely addicted to ‘chap-hop’ rappers Professor Elemental, Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer and Mr Bruce And The Correspondents.”

There’s a direct line from the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band’s jokey ’60s music to contemporary chap-hop, which combines the song structures of rap with lyrics about hunting, tea, pipes, tweed and the Marquess of Queensbury rules. It’s a kind of cabaret gag at heart, and finds fans from demographics ranging from Tories (who are at home with its nostalgia for the Empire and Queen Victoria) to steampunks. Its audience is pretty loyal, too – Mr B has managed to release five albums over the last six years.

Here’s Professor Elemental rapping about owning a horse:

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So, yes, it’s awful. But the most crucial detail about Gove’s fandom was revealed by the Sun yesterday: he doesn’t just listen to chap-hop, he does chap-hop. He is a chap-hoppist. Michael Gove. Rapper. Yes, it gets worse.

“I was rapping in praise of Toby Young, whose West London Free School has just been ranked by Ofsted as having outstanding features,” he said. Kirstie Allsopp was there. She said it was “very entertaining”.

We don’t have video of this event (thankfully), so instead here’s a gif of Gove falling over, forever: