Headphone Highlights: Roll Deep

Roll Deep are one of the most infamous grime cartels in London. Founded by Wiley, made famous by Dizzee Rascal and encompassing the likes of Trim, Skepta, Riko and countless others, it has been one of the cornerstones of the scene for a decade. In their Headphone Highlights session – check the audio at RBMA Radio – Flow Dan and J2K recount a few of their favourite grime moments.

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Dizzee Rascal “I Luv U” (XL Recordings)

FLOW DAN: First up, we’ve got Dizzee Rascal with “I Luv U”. This, for me, would be a very influential track to the grime scene because it would be the first song that Dizzee actually put out officially to say, okay then, he’s a new artist, he’s that Boy In Da Corner from Roll Deep, and it’s the one that I saw people actually taking to and really taking Dizzee seriously as an artist.

Dom Perignon & DJ Dynamite “Hungry Tiger” (Mos Wanted)

J2K: So the next tune we’re gonna bring up is “Hungry Tiger” by Dom Perignon and DJ Dynamite. This is a personal favourite, I’d say, ’cause this was a riddim that always made me want to MC on it, whenever this came on I wanted the mic. Basically, just wanted to spit on this beat all the time. I never wanted to let this one pass when it came on, so I’d be hungry for the mic every time this one came on, it’s my favourite still.

Roll Deep “Shank Riddem (When I’m Ere)” (Roll Deep Recordings)

J2K: “When I’m Ere” was probably one of the best crew songs, I’d say, in the grime scene, ever made, I’d say. Yeah, I’d probably put it down and say that. Definitely from like a whole crew, innit, not guests and that. Yeah, everybody went in on that song, it was like, you know everybody had the same formula, everybody just did their part on it, the video was crazy. Yeah, man, it was just an all-around sick tune. It was started by Roachee – if you need a little history lesson on that – yeah, man, it was just a crazy tune, bruv, I don’t even know what else to say about it, I wish I was on it, to be fair.

Jammer “Murkle Man” (Jahmektheworld)

FLOW DAN: Jammer “Murkle Man” is a very substantial track for the grime scene because Jammer is actually the first person, I believe, to put so much character into the performance. He actually had a superhero suit on, he turned himself into the Murkle Man. The video was very animated and the energy was mad high in the track, and if you’ve ever seen it performed, you would know everything that I’m saying is true.

DJ Eastwood “U Ain’t Ready” (Black Majik Recordings)

J2K: Eastwood “U Ain’t Ready”: this tune just reminds me of the Eskimo Dances, the Sidewinders. This was like that classic moment where something was going to happen when this beat come on, whoever gets that drop was about to do something mad. So “U Ain’t Ready” was definitely a classic for the raves, I would say. I definitely used to like this one, it’s a favourite still.

Wiley “Eskimo” (Wiley Kat Records)

FLOW DAN: “Eskimo” by Wiley is a very influential instrumental that helped carve out the grime scene separate from the garage scene. So, it turned it into more of a club-based platform for MCs to do their thing. And I think that’s the only beat that I’ve heard people that don’t know about grime or garage like. People that don’t even know what our music is, they just knew that that beat was infectious, it was too much, and it made some people even become MCs, I reckon.

Roll Deep “Snakes And Madders” (Roll Deep Recordings)

FLOW DAN: The “Snakes And Madders” track off of the No Comment mixtape, which is by Roll Deep, was a quite easy track to make because it ain’t really got a chorus, like a traditional chorus or a hook. It’s taking it back to when MCs just wanted to express themselves and just get the vibe up, and just showcase your talent and showcase what you can do on a beat. So, Roll Deep plus probably one featured artist, we just came together in the studio and everyone just wrote their craziest showing-off bars, like just glorifying themselves. And that’s what really the early grime was about, so we just took it back to that. And the beat is made in-house as well by Scratchy D, and he’s a mad person so he just said "Snakes And Madders" and then that’s it.

Diddy feat. Skepta “Hello Good Morning (Grime Remix)” (Bad Boy)

FLOW DAN: “Hello Good Morning”, the grime remix, now this alone is a very influential track, well not even influential, but it’s a first, because it’s Skepta, which is born and bred from the grime scene, and he’s remixed a Puff Daddy song officially. Puff Daddy contacted him and said, “Can you remix a song?” That alone is big in itself. The song came out good, away from that, but just the fact that it’s a grime remix by an authentic grime person. Puff Daddy, I need not say no more. The song came out good, I love the beat, it’s got those authentic Skepta sounds and yeah, I’m glad it got done.

Roll Deep “Palava” (Roll Deep Recordings)

FLOW DAN: Roll Deep “Palava”, straight off the No Comment Star mixtape. That one was another mad one. The whole process of the whole mixtape was really just a loose, free thing. We’re just all in the studio, or someone’s going to set pace on the tunes, and you’ll be in there just flexing your abilities. So, this was no different really. This one’s probably set by me, I think. This beat was playing in the studio, I liked it. And really what happened was, the actual chorus, which I wrote, actually started off as my verse, I was writing it as a verse, and then I got to a point with it and I thought, it sounds good there, just repeat that. So, I left it as that and then wrote a new verse, and it came out crazy, everybody just went in on it and everybody’s kind of taken to this track, as well. It’s one of the first songs we dropped off the mixtape and it’s getting a crazy response right now. So everybody’s happy with this one, the video’s sick, it’s shot by Kalvie [Kalvadour Peterson], it’s a crazy video. “Palava”, that was sick, man.

Ghetto “Top 3 Selected” (J Clarke Enterprises)

FLOW DAN: Ghetto with “Top 3 Selected” – to me this is a track that got done at the right time, because if you’re a grime artist you should think you’re one of the best. Even if you ain’t, you should think that and try to manifest that. So, this tune got done and it’s called “Top 3 Selected”, and it created such a hype over, who is the top three, who’s the number one and so forth? I’ll leave it there, let Jason take over.

J2K: Basically, it just opened up a conversation and all these arguments. That’s what was good about it – who is actually top three selected? It’s always up for debate since this tune came out, so ever since then everybody thinks they are top three, and you’ve got people who will disagree, and then it creates that competition, because if you think you’re top three you’ve got to prove it. Why are you top three, what’s your record? It just created a whole lot of debate for the grime scene, so that definitely carved out its place in this history still.

Lethal Bizzle “Pow! (Forward)” (Relentless Records)

FLOW DAN: “Pow” by Lethal B and the rest of the mandem, that tune obviously needs no words, that’s history, innit, that’s grime history right there. That got into the charts, I swear it got a top ten in the charts, or round about that. It was one of the first to do that. Obviously, it was killing every club. It was getting banned from clubs, moshpits, arguments, fights, everything. That just created the most maddest moment and it still does, that’s what’s crazy about it. You can still take that anywhere and still kill the place with it. It was a good video. I was actually in the original video. You probably wouldn’t even notice me but I was in, Flow Dan see. I saw the excitement and there was girls there and that, and I just wanted to be next to them. So, I had a little feature in the original, you get me? So yeah, that’s all I can say really.

Roll Deep “Bumba’Ole” (Roll Deep Recordings)

FLOW DAN: Roll Deep No Comment Star mixtape has got a tune on it called “Bumba’Ole”. Now, it’s a mad title because it’s actually swearing in Patois. But the same point is that, that’s what grime’s about. Grime’s about bringing all the different cultures that Roll Deep have grown up listening to, and being and we are, so it’s all in one pot, a mix. We’ve got a tune called “Bumba’Ole” and it’s just basically a person that’s not a very good person in life, so if you’re not a good person in life you’re probably one of those, and we’ve just done a song about that. Because the No Comment mixtape is just about being straight grime and having that attitude, that original grime attitude, it would be fitting to have a song called “Bumba’Ole”, because it’s a word we use often and we don’t like them, so we made a song, simple.

Title image left to right: J2K, Flow Dan and Scratchy of Roll Deep

By Red Bull Music Academy on August 15, 2012

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