Stonebridge rapper lands his first acting role in Channel 4’s Top Boy

Lefty aka Kevin Noel

Lefty aka Kevin Noel - Credit: Archant

When a rapper from Stonebridge landed his first acting role in a drama depicting inner-city drug and gang culture, it was the realism he could bring to the storyline that made him an ideal choice.

Kevin aka ‘Lefty’ Noel plays Tony in two episodes of Channel 4’s current second series of Top Boy, set in east London.

“He is like a retired hitman trying to come out of that life and do music,” explains Lefty, who is no stranger to the gritty lifestyles Top Boy portrays.

“I know a little bit about it,” he admits.

“I’ve grown up in Stonebridge, and as you come out your front door there’s certain things that happen.”


You may also want to watch:


Lefty, who had no acting experience before Top Boy, is probably better known as a member of hip hop band USG - Unfortunate Souls Grieve.

Coupled with his background, it was Lefty’s USG video productions and industry connections that led him and fellow band member Daniel O’Connor, aka Exo, who plays Top Boy’s Trevor, to Kingston’s Cambridge council estate for filming.

Most Read

“To tell you the truth we just kind of walked up into it,” said Lefty.

“We didn’t realise until afterwards how big it actually was.

“Things just kind of fall into our laps somehow and I definitely acknowledge a higher power helping.

“I lost my mum at 18 and then at 21 I lost my dad.

“When these things happen I like to think that it’s them blessing us with a few things.

“Our lives have changed.

“They are still stressful, it’s not as certain people might perceive it, like we’ve made it, we haven’t.

“We’re still the same but there’s a lot of opportunities for us to go far.”

So how do Lefty’s life experiences and a day job as a Parcel Force van driver chime with Top Boy?

“I know the world of hustling, because that is what the whole drugs thing of the show is, the kids are runners, hustling for the boss,” said Lefty.

“There’s no point hiding certain things away from the public’s eye.

“Some of these things are really going on under certain parent’s eyes and they don’t even know what some of their children are actually on, so programmes like this can bring some of that to the light.”

As for the gang scene in his life, Lefty maintains he was in “a group of friends.”

He said: “It’s usually a group of friends who hang around together,” he explains.

“And somebody else comes up with a name to identify that group and then its going to sound like a gang, innit?”

“Don’t get me wrong, there are gangs out there but there are a lot of blurred lines when it comes to this whole gang thing.

“I never woke up with a consciousness, like, we’re going to start a gang, with initiation, there hasn’t been any of that.

“But over the years, because our circle has stayed the same it’s been labelled as a gang.

“I ain’t got no tattoos or initiation scars.”

And does Top Boy have a moral message?

“Of course!” says Lefty.

“We’ve seen it, we’ve got experiences to let some of the younger ones no it doesn’t go anywhere positive.”

As for the future, Lefty is hoping for more varied acting roles to come his way alongside life with USG.

And the dream? There’s no hesitation in Lefty’s response.

“To push the brand of USG, go international, and get rich off it.”

Top Boy is on Channel 4 on Tuesday at 9pm. When a rapper from Stonebridge landed his first acting role in a drama depicting inner-city drug and gang culture, it was the realism he could bring to the storyline that made him an ideal choice.

Kevin aka ‘Lefty’ Noel plays Tony in two episodes of Channel 4’s current second series of Top Boy, set in east London.

“He is like a retired hitman trying to come out of that life and do music,” explains Lefty, who is no stranger to the gritty lifestyles Top Boy portrays.

“I know a little bit about it,” he admits.

“I’ve grown up in Stonebridge, and as you come out your front door there’s certain things that happen.”

Lefty, who had no acting experience before Top Boy, is probably better known as a member of hip hop band USG - Unfortunate Souls Grieve.

Coupled with his background, it was Lefty’s USG video productions and industry connections that led him and fellow band member Daniel O’Connor, aka Exo, who plays Top Boy’s Trevor, to Kingston’s Cambridge council estate for filming.

“To tell you the truth we just kind of walked up into it,” said Lefty.

“We didn’t realise until afterwards how big it actually was.

“Things just kind of fall into our laps somehow and I definitely acknowledge a higher power helping.

“I lost my mum at 18 and then at 21 I lost my dad.

“When these things happen I like to think that it’s them blessing us with a few things.

“Our lives have changed.

“They are still stressful, it’s not as certain people might perceive it, like we’ve made it, we haven’t.

“We’re still the same but there’s a lot of opportunities for us to go far.”

So how do Lefty’s life experiences and a day job as a Parcel Force van driver chime with Top Boy?

“I know the world of hustling, because that is what the whole drugs thing of the show is, the kids are runners, hustling for the boss,” said Lefty.

“There’s no point hiding certain things away from the public’s eye.

“Some of these things are really going on under certain parent’s eyes and they don’t even know what some of their children are actually on, so programmes like this can bring some of that to the light.”

As for the gang scene in his life, Lefty maintains he was in “a group of friends.”

He said: “It’s usually a group of friends who hang around together,” he explains.

“And somebody else comes up with a name to identify that group and then its going to sound like a gang, innit?”

“Don’t get me wrong, there are gangs out there but there are a lot of blurred lines when it comes to this whole gang thing.

“I never woke up with a consciousness, like, we’re going to start a gang, with initiation, there hasn’t been any of that.

“But over the years, because our circle has stayed the same it’s been labelled as a gang.

“I ain’t got no tattoos or initiation scars.”

And does Top Boy have a moral message?

“Of course!” says Lefty.

“We’ve seen it, we’ve got experiences to let some of the younger ones no it doesn’t go anywhere positive.”

As for the future, Lefty is hoping for more varied acting roles to come his way alongside life with USG.

And the dream? There’s no hesitation in Lefty’s response.

“To push the brand of USG, go international, and get rich off it.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter