Tuesday, 21 September 2004

Roll Deep - Back in time

“Who’s Asher D? I don’t know him, but he’s calling my name so thank you and hi! I don’t want that kind of attention…” , “Yeh we have our own agenda” Wiley the unequivocal leader of new collective, Roll Deep, concludes for Dizzee Rascal.

Such a threat is seventeen year old underground MC/producer Dizzee Rascal, that So Solid Crews leading MC, Asher D’s priority on leaving prison was to challenge him to lyrical war.

But the ten-strong, all male, East London, Roll Deep Crew, look set to kick So Solid from the top of their Winstanley tower block to a messy death below.

They’ve appeared on the More Fire Crew album, remixed for Ashanti, supported Jay-Z on his recent UK tour dates and after a major record label battle have been signed to XL (also home to Basement Jaxx).

Although no newcomers to the game, the crew have only been working together full time for a year. Whilst the majority of the MCs and DJs were climbing the rungs of the solo ladder, Wiley and Flo Dan were members of the Pay As U Go Cartel whose commercial debut, Champagne Dance charted at number 12 last year.

Today though, Roll Deep are more intent on practising their J-Lo diva techniques. Concerns are raised about taking pictures outside, as they’re ‘not in their area.’ They’re wary of passers by, and don’t want to stand on the wet grass for fear it will wreck their customised Nikes. But it soon becomes obvious that Wiley calls the shots. With his approval, the boys climb the mound, Wiley, telling the photographer to hurry up as their cold.

It’s how Roll Deep roll - their way or no way. They won’t use a distribution company as they lose money, they won’t water their lyrics down for Top Of The Pops, and they certainly won’t be told how to stand.

Prima donnas maybe, but Wiley and Dizzee are fast becoming the male equivalents of Ms Dynamite. Unlike the rest of the currently apathetic and inexperienced crew, they’re spokesmen of their generation, unafraid to vent political views and youth angst on and off the mic.

With tracks such as Eskimo, Ho, I Love You and Ice Rink they’ve redefined UK garage as we knew it, with their unique blend of hip hop lyricism, and minimalist off-key beats laid down at a garage tempo.

“As an MC I made tunes with that in mind. I just flooded the market so you’d all know.” Says Wiley who was at one point, releasing material on a near-weekly basis.

And for a group of school boy-looking seasoned Skunk smokers, their music, if not a lot else, is on course to blow the UK, America and the Houses of Parliament away in the next twelve months.

Words: Chantelle Fiddy

Danny Weed – Named so due to chronic levels of weed consumption, his name is slightly out of touch given he’s kicked the habit and is swimming twice a week in a bid to get healthy. Brother of vocalist Dom P, Weed’s track Creeper is out now.

Bionics – Likens himself to Bugs Bunny (why? Who knows). Reckons he’s best described as articulate and for the record he’s the tallest member, towering in at a grand 6 ft 5.

Karnage – Reportedly spends more time asleep than on the decks or anywhere else for that matter. He loves Nike and would love Memphis Bleek to play him in a Roll Deep movie.

Wiley – Shot to production credibility with his track Nicole’s Groove and made the anthemic Pay As U Go track Know We which set the trend for the likes of So Solid. He loves banana fritters and is selling his Renault for £1500 to upgrade to an Alfa Romeo.

Breeze – Loves Jay-Z, thinks Nas is too serious but rates the Gods Son album. The windy one also recommends investing in some Akademics clothing and reading The Source.

Flow Dan – Having left Pay As U Go two months ago (‘I was the only good thing in it at the time’), the quiet, moody looking man of the bunch likes Steven Segal. His colleagues pronounce him a woman eater (‘he would take anyone’s girl’ says Jamakabi).

Bubbles – The smiley former office worker turned MC doesn’t smoke the reefer, loves designer labels but wants to get a big face and of course lots of money. Oh and he loves performing on stage.

Biggie Pitbull – Wiley’s cousin, Scratchy, was earning a living through ‘street shit’ but is now on the housing list in Amsterdam where he hopes to open a café selling his favourite skunk, Sweet Tooth. He also thinks he’s a pikey.

Jamakabi – The joker and big voiced entertainer, Jamakabi smokes high-grade all the way baby. He doesn’t rate Halle Berry and is yet to see his ideal woman, but is happy and likes to wear his hood up.

Dizzee Rascal – Denies rumours he’s related to More Fire Crew’s Ozzie B, likes Spiderman and the tune Ice Rink. This 17 year old thinks autographs are weird but wants to confront his fears, better himself and would consider a minor part in a Roll Deep meets Snoop Dogg porno.

A version of this article appeared in Muzik Magazine, 2003

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