Enter DanielOG, East London rapper producer and member “world’s best boy-band” Neverland Clan.
In 2016, the OG has had his ‘Plan‘ co-signed by Skepta, managed to make the most irritating viral clip of 2016 a banger and support Yo Gotti at the latest #Arrival. All this and he’s only “twenteen” – I think it’s only apt to say damn Daniel.
DanielOG has this charm and confidence about him, that’s likable, even over the phone. Self-described as twenteen, Daniel likes music, clothes, fashion, but unlike most, the interest has gone to the point where he has no other option than to pursue it: “It was my boy Ryan Hawaii’s pop-up, I performed the ‘Plan’ there. Before that I had only performed for friends, the show went off, people went off, and it made me feel confident to pursue it properly and do an EP”.
It was October last year, when DanielOG “done it properly”, and dropped ‘Art Attack’, a self-produced body of work (expect ‘Remedies’ by fellow clan member OMELET) that served as an introduction to “stylistic approach of DanielOG as an artist”. Think a distant cousin of 90’s boom bap raps and a primary school friend of 00’s grinding R&B with a dash of grime for good measure. As a rapper, DanielOG has this loose easy flow, that is effusive as it is icy. As a producer, Daniel draws upon so many influences, that push the boundaries of hip-hop, R&B and grime to their limits. Citing Timberland, Pharrell, ATL’s Father, and Fela Kuti – “not his music directly, but the way he feels about music and what he feels it should be” – as his main influences, Daniel certainly speaks like a real OG: “I think producers are the best rappers in the world, if you’ve made a song yourself, you know how you want it sound and where you want it to go […] It’s harder if you’re just taking beats from YouTube and rapping over it, that’s how everyone else is rapping – I hate YouTube rappers, no gonna lie“.
What’s dope about Daniel is, he knows what he wants and he has this crazy way of anticipating peoples responses. When I asked him about rapping influences, he was quick to add – “I’m just going to the get Biggie one out the way, I hear that one all the time, I’ve been getting it since I was 8! People compare me to him, it’s not a diss to me, but I don’t think i’m that ugly“. He applied this exact same logic with his February released track ‘Damn Daniel’ which saw him take the viral clip (you know, the irritating af clip with kid walking around in white Vans and getting jeered at by his friend) and channel his inner 50 Cent to create a game-boy inspired, hip-hop meets nugrime jam: “I made it because I was anticipating what people will do. When I heard the Vine, I thought let me just own it and do my own thing. I made a song did my own thing”.
Music isn’t just the only outlet of expression for Daniel, having previously designed clothes, Daniel, and indeed, the rest of the Neverland Clan, sit firmly within this all encompassing millennial generation that take over art, music and fashion: “They’re all [art, music, fashion] a form of expression. It’s accessible – you can be yourself without any hindrances, there’s no limits in music, there’s no limits to what you can wear…. to an extent! But it’s all a form of expression… I think if you can harness either one of those skills well then the other one also follows”.
Limitless is the mantra the rest of the Neverland Clan live by. The lost boys club, well trio, is made up of Ryan Hawaii, Omelet and, of course, Daniel. Neverland Clan isn’t just the “the best boy band in the world – the new One Direction”, it’s an outlet, a monster machine all about creating and living your dream. Collaborating with the likes of Red Bull, BAPE, ICE CREAM and Lazy Oaf, the trio have this envious IDGAF attitude that means the only way they’re looking is at themselves, then up.
In the past, crafting and doing it yourself used to be something feared and shunned, but the Neverland Clan psychology is the complete opposite of that. It’s a fully, see, want, create and get mentality. But for university student Daniel, how did traditional university fit in with this whole DIY outlook of the clan?: “Lately I’ve been moving too sensible – I need to go back to my Never Land mentality… [University] doesn’t fit. Everyone except from me, everyone’s suit their jobs to be rock stars, except from me, I’m the last one to do it. I’m about to do it, but I just have a lot to think about – uni is important, but it’s not the only way, the government have somehow convinced people it’s the only way to make it in life. Education is important, learning and the internet is such a key form of education. I got good grades and shit – but uni isn’t for everyone”.
Building an empire is the aim, “build a Morley’s in Hackney” being the gatekeepers, the creators and curators of creativity is the only mission. But what’s next for the OG? “I’m working on an album, called The Resistance (Working Title) that’s expected late summer maybe early 2017. There’s set to be some exciting names on it, it’s going to be something people will want to hear”.
Till that moment of clarity, be prepared to be taken on a continuous journey through the trials and tribulations of the twenteen generation as they go ‘Finding Nemo’ next.