D Double E
D Double E is synonymous with grime music in its present state.
The scene owes a lot to him. In many ways, he is London’s most evergreen MC. What makes his style so timeless is that his work has influenced at least three generations of artists over the course of his career, starting with an extremely talented teenage Kano, who started to attend D Double’s N.A.S.T.Y. Crew radio sets in the early 00s.
Having humble beginnings in jungle, he’d transition to grime, keeping that break- neck pace in the chamber for whenever the situation demands it. He would form Newham Generals alongside Footsie, taking grime instrumentals such as Woo Riddim and, in his own words: “give it the love it really deserves”. His freestyle over that beat, together with the rest of his upper tier verses (of which there are many) over the course his career, would set the bar for future MCs.
“I can definitely see my style in kids coming up,” he tells me at our shoot location in Bethnal Green, “it’s more clear now, before it used to be kids taking mine and twisting it a little bit, now people are more free to use different flows.” Originality is key for D Double, yet he’s used to people copying him (and other giants like Dizzee Rascal) and sees it in the scene today. “Right now, it’s happening more,” he explains, “but it’s less talked about.” His inherent energy, unpredictability and idiosyncratic lyrical tendencies are however, unmatched. Whenever he touches mic in a rave, it’s his verse that detonates the crowd.
Growing up as part of the Jamaican diaspora, D Double, born Darren Dixon, knows his roots are incredibly important to his current style. “It’s all embedded man, my whole style, the way I am, I’m Jamaican to the fullest.” He cares about how Britain is viewed, too, to children growing up here and to people now discovering grime overseas. “I pump the UK fully, I’m like the best of both worlds, and the music gives me an avenue to push that.”
Grime is under the magnifying glass arguably moreso than it’s ever been; and it’s crucial to Dixon that people understand the origins in each line, instrumental, and aesthetic. In particular, old instrumentals are currently being revamped now to sound more polished by mercurial producers such as Spooky. “Exclusive beats and bars have another life to go through” in grime in 2015.
Dixon has always stayed true to streetwear, and our shoot sees him decked out in all black Nike Air Max 1’s, sporting an immaculate fade which he gets daily, and wearing a Billionaire Boys Club Varsity jacket. Entwined in London-born fashion, he recently enjoyed a collaboration with ascendant designer Nasir Mazhar, along with spitting a few bars to celebrate Vans’ collaboration with Eley Kishimoto. Throughout the course of the shoot he emanates calm integrity; never rushed, but ready to switch for whoever mentions him again in a clash. Your favourite grime MC’s favourite MC.
Stylist: Luci Ellis
Words: Akash Chohan
Photos: Theo Cottle
See the video above for a behind the scenes video of the shoot