In the early 2000s, when mandem used to be on the block doing all sorts of nonsense, I would be sitting on a wall rewinding the same 30 seconds repeatedly. This was necessary because I needed to learn lyrics for when I went back to school so I could join in the conversations about Grime. Every week, N.A.S.T.Y Crew would go on the pirate radio station Deja Vu FM and test out their new bars. One MC that stood out to me and everyone else, is D Double E.
“Spat my bars and all your crew knew ’em. Your lyrics? You’re gonna have to re-do ‘em”
Back in the day, There was somewhat of a format when it came to spitting bars on Grime instrumentals. The MCs that veered off that beaten path and forged their own style were the artists that are still around today. When it comes to styles, there is no one like Double. No one!
On a set with 10 MCs fighting for the spotlight and barking into the microphone, D Double E would touch mic, take a pause and say his infamous calling card that would let everyone know that something special is about to happen.
“Superdupe Ooah Ooah, Dirtee-tee, That’s Mweee Mweee, Badabupbup”
As a young man totally captivated with what I was hearing through my radio, these words would indicate that I needed to press record on my tape player and immortalize the lyrics on my TDK cassettes. Double’s bars would make an impression on me because they would be often violent with an element of comedy. The words used to describe crazy situations would paint a picture in your mind that would engage your imagination and enable you to understand what he was trying convey. D Double E was my go to artist whenever I had to recite bars. His way with words and his unique voice that told intricate stories of life in the ends gained traction on the airwaves and in school playgrounds across London.
“Don’t start trouble with the Double, When I’m warmed up I’ll leave you in a lyric blood puddle, Greet you with arms not talking a cuddle, The doctor can’t put you back together like a puzzle”
Fast forward to 2017 and D Double E is still going strong. Whether he’s touring the world or creating featured verses for Grime’s A-list representatives, D Double E stays relevant with good music and witty lyrics. So when I heard that he was putting on a headline show, I definitely needed to be a part of it. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing D Double perform at Eskimo Dance and the way he commands the crowds is a sight to see. So a headline show filled with his supporters going crazy for his music was definitely something I wanted to experience.
“I don’t eat bangers and mash, but when I do moves I roll in the banger with mash, If you do move I’ll be banging the mash quicker than a flash, bang, you’ll be gone in a flash”
After SK Vibemaker warmed up the crowd, Grime pioneers Elijah & Skilliam jumped on the decks. I know them for being great selectors of Grime music so to see them curating the show was reassuring that it was going to be a great night.
As an ol’ skool Grime fan, hearing Colours blast through the speakers as the first song was a trip down memory lane. I found myself remembering bars that I haven’t said in years. This continued with Signal and the Aim High Freetsyle. I was in the photo pit getting lost in the music. Instead of taking pictures, I was bussin’ gun finger salutes to the general. That’s the thing about shooting at shows where you actually love the music. I have to be aware and settle myself down to focus and take pictures. But that got pretty hard when N.A.S.T.Y. Crew came on stage and performed Take You Out for the first time! By this time, the entire pit was filled with people. To my left I saw Flowdan and Laura ‘HyperFrank’ Brosnan, to my right were family and friends. This was in addition to the photographers and videographers trying to capture the moment. It was chaos, but also a beautiful example of Grime culture.
If you look back to past interviews with Grime artists that were making moves in the scene in the formative days, when they are asked who was their favourite MC, the answer for the majority was D Double E. The respect that he has earned from his peers was evident as Kano, JME, Skepta, Chip and Jammer come out to perform and show their appreciation.
“If it wasn’t for this man right here, I wouldn’t have started MC’ing and wouldn’t be here right now” — Kano
This show had everything for the old fans and the new. From songs like Birds In The Sky to his latest single That’s How I Like It, Double used the raised stage to accurately spray the bars that resulted in everyone buying tickets to hear it live. Besides the crowd, a good representation of the Grime scene was front of house going crazy for the songs just like I was. This is the effect that D Double E has on everyone. This was amplified when he brought out fellow Newham General, Footsie. When the two east London MCs perform on stage, it is always a great example of the synergy that can exist between artists. Long time friends and collaborators, they started with Hard and brought us right up to date with Unruly. After paying his respect to his partner in Grime, Footsie exited the stage and left D Double E to close the show. Or so we thought.
Just after the second reload of Street Fighter, several MCs made their way into the stage. I could sense what was coming. With Elijah & Skilliam on the decks and a bunch of MCs within arms reach of a mic, a good ol’ set was bound to occur. This is one of the differences between Hip Hop and Grime. Grime MCs were birthed in radio sets waiting to touch mic with the goal of a reload.
“Yo. We should do a set init. There’s no way we can go without doing a set! Yo DJ, drop the riddim” — Chip
After a result of the rapturous reaction, D Double E walked to the front of the stage and said “Alright, alright. Go on then”. Immediately, a 8-bar rally started and captivated the crowd. The mic was passed around the MCs and each sprayed their reload bars. When Flowdan took the mic with his menacing flow, everyone in the building was shouting for the reload. But due to the lack of time, every second needed to be ultilized.
This show was a testament to what happens when you own your journey and move at your own pace. D Double E is your favourite MCs favourite MC because he embodies Grime culture and continues to progress making relevant music which never strides far from the character that he has created. His bars will forever be quotatables and in a world that is saturated by musicians, he stands alone with his unique style and presence. All salute the Newham General.