South London is a nexus of communities, estates, and roads with their own identity, a competitive mesh of voices and cultures, each one aiming to heard first, loudest, and clearest.
DC hails from Greenwich, and these streets inform every aspect of the rapper’s work. Take his Gleamin’ freestyle series – the title is sheer Greenwich, but his innate, natural talent has racked up countless streams online since its 2015 debut.
“I think it’s natural, to be honest,” he tells Clash. “I don’t think I make a conscious effort to keep it South East but that’s in there. Growing up with the slang, the way we grew up... everything influences it. I’m South East London through and through, to be honest.”
“To be honest the Gleamin’ freestyle came from being around friends,” he recalls. “I was chillin, and I was always a fan of grime and UK rap, so I was always a fan of freestyles. I wrote it, and I liked it so I put it online and people liked it. My friends thought I should record it properly, so I did that and then put it out. And it’s had a great response.”
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Growing up with the slang, the way we grew up... everything influences it.
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It certainly has. Stormzy has offered a co-sign, while J Hus invited DC to open up on his breakout Common Sense tour. The artistry of both definitely inspires DC, but the rapper was also stunned by their work ethic, but their sheer, unrelenting commitment.
“There was a moment on tour,” he recalls, “when we were on the bus and me, Young T and Bugsey, and Hus, were chillin’ and we were freestyling and his ability to rap alone was motivating because it made me realise I had to put in more work. He’s a very hard-working rapper. It definitely rubbed off on people.”
“It really did help me with my performance, and it gave me confidence. It was almost a life-changing experience because it really did motivate me from then on forwards.”
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Growing up soaking in the Westwood freestyles series, DC constantly checked out radio sets on Radar and Rinse, growing up on grime, and Giggs’ unmistakable road rap style. “It was Peckham, to be honest,” he admits. “Peckham was making great underground music at the time, and that’s what we grew up on.”
Launching into 2019 with renewed focus, DC pits this inspiration against new-found precision on rap burner ‘Dock City’. Showing off his grime influences it puts a new spin on the sound, a UK rap workout with dexterous flow and ice cold production.
“It stemmed from an argument,” he admits. “I was at the studio and I had an argument with a producer as to why kids from ends behave the way they do. If somebody sells drugs, then why they do it. I was basically defending the kids on ends by saying it’s not always their fault – it’s often due to things they’ve been through, why they chose this path. And the producer argued against that, saying they should know how to behave. That’s what it extends from – me trying to explain that there are always two sides.”
“I know we understand that the choices they are making are wrong, but it’s not as simple as saying, oh, they’re just bad people. It could be due to other things. It’s down to a lack of understanding.”
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I was basically defending the kids on ends by saying it’s not always their fault...
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As an artist, DC is constantly drawn to new beats, to new sounds and fresh modes of production. “The beat just has to be different. It all goes down to the instrumental. It has to have a different vibe from what I’m hearing. Literally has to be a different kind of vibe to inspire me to write.”
“I’m using loads of producers,” he explains. “I love working with different producers. There’s always something different that other people can offer. If I hear a good beat then I’ll just start writing straight away.”
With a full mixtape in the works, DC is currently shuttling between Greenwich and a series of West London studios, using those long drives there and back to listen to the beats he’s been sent, endlessly focussing on his words, and his delivery.
There’s a phrase he uses at one point, filled to the brim with the kind of self-confidence that means it sticks in our mind for hours afterwards. “This year,” DC promises, “I want to build up myself”.
With his tenacious individuality, few would bet against DC achieving this.
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