Ruff Sqwad are one of grime’s original crews and, with the possible exception of Roll Deep, perhaps the genre’s biggest legacy. Classic instrumentals such as ‘Tings In Boots’ were hugely influential in helping establish grime’s sound in the early days, and some of the scene’s most famous artists have passed through the crew’s ranks, including Tinchy Stryder and grime stalwarts Prince Rapid and Dirty Danger.
For Danger, the future is bright, and the competitive spirit that MCs had in the early days is returning. “It’s going to be exciting,” he tells Clash. “The other day I heard Skepta’s new tune, ‘That’s Not Me’, and ‘Grime’s Alive’ by Ghetts, and it was like hungry season again.”
Prince Rapid agrees, believing that grime could potentially soon expand to become an international genre. “It has its own sound and people are warming to the British accent,” he says. “MCs know they don’t have to spit in an American style or an American accent now, in a few years we will be able to break countries like America slowly.”
- - -
Prince Rapid, ‘Turning Point’
- - -
Rapid is certainly willing to put his money where his mouth is when it comes to backing the genre, and has begun work on a new studio in Bow, E3, famously grime’s spiritual home, in order to harness the raw talent of east London’s youth.
“The studio is still under construction, but it’s almost there,” he details. “I’ll run Ruff Sqwad Entertainment from there, and another company called New Build Creative Resources with my business partner Oliver. What we do is provide 16- to 24-year-olds with a Music Business Level 1 to Level 3 course.”
With this project, Rapid aims to teach youths the best way to turn their interest in music into a sustainable career. “The aim of this course is to show that not everyone has to be an MC or a producer,” he explains. “There’s actually a lot of space in the industry for marketers, A&Rs and PRs. As well as that they’re taught key skills - Maths, English and employability – so they know how to act, dress and speak in a workplace.”
“I didn’t know about this when I was coming up; I just knew how to MC and produce,” he recalls. “I didn’t know that the guy at the publishing company will write more than the artist and have an easier job. Some people work their whole life to get to that commercial position and they don’t realise that there’s a time limit there.”
One of the young artists Rapid is working with is Cadell, the younger brother of none other than the godfather of grime: Wiley. Rapid has been impressed with the youngster’s ability. “He’s a dangerous MC for a 17-year-old,” he stresses. “He definitely knows what he’s doing and how to attack the mic.” He’s also been working with American supergroup Future Brown, who make what he dubs “authentic grime, but very futuristic”.
Aside from the studio project, both Prince Rapid and Dirty Danger have projects of their own coming out soon. Danger is due to release ‘Danger Season’, a seven-track EP that he is producing himself.
- - -
Dirty Danger, ‘Hard Body’
- - -
“I’ve put a lot of time and effort into trying to make the production really special and different,” he tells us. “I’m a perfectionist; I know what I like and if I can’t find it I have to make it myself, and if I can’t make it then I know how to sound good over it.” He insists that his EP will have a unique and personal sound, while remaining true to Ruff Sqwad’s legacy, and promises that his fans will not be disappointed, claiming: “I want to let people know that I am Dirty Danger and I’m a bad boy at this ting.”
Rapid’s project, a seven-track EP entitled ‘Turning Point’, came out in March. “It’s all vocals upon grime and hip-hop instrumentals,” he describes. “I would say it’s my grime – elements of grime music, but other elements too.”
Lead single ‘Prince’ features the Ruff Sqwad legend reminiscing over his time in the music industry over a simple, drum-led beat, and the similarly-nostalgic ‘Yesterday’ is a garage-influenced track with veteran MCs such as Ghetts and JME telling tales about their past.
“That was the aim when we were writing the lyrics,” he recalls. “I was speaking about things like old relationships, Ghetts was speaking about his exes and when he first smoked weed, and JME was speaking about when Wiley gave him his first computer. Everyone dug deep into their past and said things that really meant something to them.”
- - -
Words: Paul Gibbins