"I'm In A Position To Just Do What I Love" D Double E Interviewed

"I'm In A Position To Just Do What I Love" D Double E Interviewed

An audience with the grime legend...

D Double E is a UK music legend, whichever way you want to look at it. A key figure in the grime scene before there even was a grime scene, he’s almost definitely your favourite MC’s favourite MC, and for good reason. There aren’t many other people who can cause a wheel-up at a rave with ad libs alone, and his tracks and features are routinely some of the best in the game.

The one thing missing from his arsenal for a long time was a full-length solo album, but 2018’s ‘Jackuum!’ rectified that, attracting critical acclaim and boosting D Double’s legend even further. Now 2020 has rolled round and he’s back with a second helping.

New album 'Double Or Nothing' is a different beast entirely that sees him flexing his muscles outside of grime, a move that will come as no surprise to long-time fans, but might take people who only know him for the one genre by surprise.

We hopped on the phone with him just as the second nationwide lockdown kicked in to ask about the album, the features, and why he categorically refuses to let people box him in.

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Hey, how’s it going – are you coping with lockdown?

It’s fine, I’m missing the raves though – had a tour lined up but these things just happen sometimes. I’ve got a couple of other tricks up my sleeve to promote the new album, but it’s basically all just street work, thinking hats on. We’ve got more than enough time when we’re locked down to be thinking of plans and making things work.

Speaking of the album, why did you call it ‘Double Or Nothing’?

It’s ‘Double Or Nothing’ because I feel like that’s what everyone should aim for. We need to stop cutting ourselves short and just aim to be the best thing we can. And separately from that, it’s what time it is for me personally – three years ago I felt I really needed to do me, go solo and get ‘Jackuum!’ out, so this is another thing to keep me in lane.

It’s all double or nothing now man, for me and for anyone else that wants to make something.

This is your second album now after a long time in the game, do you think this is the format that works for you now?

Honestly, it’s the only format now, the only one for a successful artist. If you don’t wanna be successful you can just go in the rave and spit or become a clash MC and just do battle rapping, but if you wanna be successful? Anyone that we could mention sitting here, albums is what they do, so to live another way just sounds silly to me.

Right now I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and being consistent with these projects, because I’m trying to live that life, you know? 

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Was there anything you wanted to do differently on this album?

Naaah man. Everything I do is because I wanna do it – do people just want me to eat chicken and chips every single day of the week for fucking breakfast, lunch and dinner? ‘Jackuum!’ is there and ‘D.O.N’ is here. On my next one I’ll be switching it again, because I love a lot of stuff and I want to show you that I might love chicken and chips, but I’m eating different during the week. I’ve got so many styles that I want to show to people, but I don’t wanna be mixing them about, you understand? Next one I could have singers all over it, but I’m still D Double, I’m still moving. Just moving in a new shape.

I’m gonna do ‘Jackuum! 2’, but I want to have these different platforms first, then go back and do more of it. I can’t just have ‘Jackuum! 1-7’ because people are gonna start thinking it’s a mixtape, and I don’t want people to be thinking of mixtapes when they look at my albums. I’m gonna get all the covers looking good too, you know? I’m there like ‘Rah, if I’m in a suit sitting down on this cover, I’ll be in a suit standing up in this one’ and then it can all fit together, but not sound the same.

I love a lot of different foods man, none of it is cheesy and all of it is hard, but everyone’s trying to back me up into this one chicken shop instead of letting me give my real all.

How do you pick who to have on the album that fits the vibe? You must be spoilt for choice on people that want to hop on a track with you.

Yeah, but getting who you want personally, it’s...if I showed you the Nike website and I asked which pair you wanted, you’re gonna be able to pick the one you want. It’s the same thing – if you’re broke as fuck or don’t care, you’re not gonna give a fuck what one you get, but that’s not how I do music. I get my features by loving them, not by looking for the new heat, I don’t care about the new heat, I care about what I love.

So right now [Birmingham rapper] M1llionz is new to me and I really, really like him, so that’s someone I wanna work with. I’m doing what I love, working on what I love, it’s not hard to choose who I love to jump on with me. Just tell me who the talent is and I’ll go online and look, but if I don’t like them? I’m not working with them.

I’ve got so many people I want to work with, and there’s no confusion on why I’ve picked them if you know my personally because I’m playing them all the time. But if you don’t know me you might be sitting there like ‘I didn’t know Double liked that!’ because I need to give people my tastes more.

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Do you think your broad music taste is how you've managed to stay passionate for so long?

Most definitely. That’s the reason why I’m here today, because I love music. When I look at myself, what I tell myself is the ultra reals. Someone who doesn’t know me will see me in the street and think ‘rah, why is Double walking? He should be in a helicopter!’ (laughs) but I know where I am and I know myself.

When I think about myself and people saying I just do grime, I think back to early: (sings the opening bars of ‘Birds in the Sky’) That’s from the birth of grime and I’m singing, I’ve always done it. The difference is that now I’ve stopped letting people tell me what I am, my only job is to be what I actually am. 

My job as I see it is to be free, just open my wings and work with whoever I want. I don’t wanna just get booked at Eskimo Dance for the rest of my career – I love Busta Rhymes, I love Snoop Dogg, I love so much different things and I’ve given love to everything apart from what I really, really love. When I’m with a DJ and he’s playing tunes, he doesn’t know what I love; we’ve never sat down and spoke about what I love. Every time I touch mic, no DJ has ever talked to me, I’m just on the set and maybe I don’t even know what I love until I start spitting crazy on it, you understand?

What I’m doing is not experimental, it’s not new, it’s from before the before – even before that. I love skanking out, so I love stuff like funky house as well as grime, and you know when I love something because you’ll see me and I’ll be vocalling it.

It must be great to be independent and have the freedom to only work on what you want to work on.

For sure, because this karaoke thing of just spitting on anything and not caring what the DJ’s gonna play, just being happy to be on the mic, that’s not me. If I don’t like the tune I’ll give the mic to the next MC and he might ride it anyway, then a good tune will come on and I’ll grab that mic and pull it off him!

At the end of the day, I’m in a position to just do what I love, and that’s what it’s all about – all about doing what you love. Simple.

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D Double E's new album 'D.O.N' is incoming.

Words: Jake Hawkes

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