Cooking Vinyl

Roll Deep

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East London collective formed in 2001, and helped to pioneer the grime scene. Roll Deep are an institution of the UK dance underground, with a decade-long history as pioneers at the forefront of radical hip hop and grime. But they’re no museum piece with a venerable past and a dim future. On the contrary: artistically they are on top form, and commercially they have never been hotter, with two number 1 singles in 2010 alone that meant that, cumulatively, they occupied the chart’s pole position for longer than any other act that year.

They’re not just an institution, they’re a corporation, and as such they have employed some of the biggest names in the business: Dizzee Rascal, Tinchy Stryder and Skepta, to cite just three key characters, have all passed through their ranks, almost as a grime rite of passage, while Wiley, unarguable inventor of the genre, remains a shadowy totemic figure, RD’s mysterious guiding force. FlowDan, one of Roll Deep’s founders, calls them “a brand”. To Breeze they’re a “tight-knit family”. Manga jokes that being in RD is like spending time “in a training camp” or “like going to university – you get thrown in at the deep end but it’s a great place to train”.

The RD collective of singers, musicians, producers and MCs, which usually contains no fewer than 10 members and sometimes more than a dozen, has dominated the scene since forming in London’s East End in 2002. Their 2005 debut album, In At The Deep End, contained two top 40 hits, and the 2007 follow-up, Rules and Regulations, was praised by the Observer newspaper for its “dizzying variety and [the] remorseless assault of the 13-strong group’s spitfire verses”. Return Of The Big Money Sound (2008) was a further showcase for their talents while 2009’s Street Anthems offered a précis of the group’s efforts to date. Most recently, Winner Stays On (2010) was the one that saw them, via those two number 1 singles ‘Good Times’ (featuring Jodie Connor) and ‘Green Light’, as well as third top 40 entry ‘Take Control’ (with Alesha Dixon on vocals), reach beyond their hardcore grime fanbase with a sparkling collection of tunes that won them a large pop audience.

The UK’s most seminal music collective Roll Deep releaseed their fifth studio album ‘X’ on 1st October 2012 through Cooking Vinyl. The 9 strong collective of Scratchy, Breeze, Brazen, Flow Dan, Manga, J2K, Tania Foster, Target and DJ Karnage, have cast a wider net of collaborators and influences on this record marking an evolution of the Roll Deep legend, while keeping on point lyrically and maintaining their unassailable attitude and spirit.

X sees Roll Deep work an eclectic mix of producers / remixers including Michael Gray (‘The Weekend’, ‘Borderline’), Wideboys (Rihanna, Snoop  Dogg, Lilly Allen, Wretch 32), Agent X (Skepta, Tinie Tempah, Dizzee Rascall), Knightstarr (Professor Green), Patrick Jordan (Pixie Lott, JLS), Swindle (The Mitchell Brothers, Wiley). The Grime sound we have come to know from Roll Deep has progressed, exploiting the genre’s roots further, with  the bassline, ragga, hip-house and drum and bass influences blatant and bombastic throughout X. With its anthemic riffs, big basslines and infectious choruses, each track on the album has huge crossover potential. Highlights include fist-pumping ‘Night Like This’ and crowd-rousing ‘Everybody Reach Up’ alongside club banging past single ‘Picture Perfect’ and forthcoming single, ‘Can’t Wait For The Weekend’, the monumental collaboration with Michael Gray which is a complete rework of Gray’s monster smash ‘The Weekend’, released back in 2004.

Having played a vital part in grime’s ascendency, Roll Deep are responsible for some of its biggest hits while simultaneously becoming commercial favourites; with two number 1 singles in 2010 alone (‘Green Light’, ‘Good Times’) that meant that, cumulatively, they occupied the chart’s pole position for longer than any other act that year. Evidently, Roll Deep aren’t just an institution, they’re a corporation, and as such they have integrated some of the biggest names in the business: Dizzee Rascal, Tinchy Stryder and Skepta, to cite just three key figures, have all passed through their ranks, almost as a grime rite of passage, while Wiley, unarguable inventor of the genre, remains a shadowy, totemic figure.

A symbolic album title, X represents the number 10 which aptly ties in with the collective’s decade long career where the constant evolution of Roll Deep’s line up (a collective of singers, musicians, producers and MC’s) has helped ensure their sound remains at the forefront of the ever-changing styles of the fast-moving dance and urban underground scenes.