The latest ‘Vs.’ brings together Prince Rapid and Dirty Danger, two of the founding members of the seminal Grime outfit Ruff Sqwad.
Since the early 2000’s Grime has been synonymous with London & British street culture in general. Articulating the frustrations of a generation of disenfranchised inner city youths, it was the most vital grassroots musical movement since Punk and gave birth to household names like Dizzee Rascal, Wiley and Kano. Today, with instrumental Grime enj0ying a much publicised resurgence, it seems a better time than ever to pay tribute to those who helped pioneer the genre over a decade ago. The longest surviving Grime crew, Ruff Sqwad have been soldiers of the scene since forming in 2001. Formerly containing the now chart bothering Tinchy Stryder, the group retains key members Prince Rapid and Dirty Danger, whom we got to take turns interviewing each other on this latest ‘Vs.’
After a decade of involvement with Ruff Sqwad, Prince Rapid has recently collaborated with US collective Future Brown and is set to release his ‘Turning Point’ EP as the debut outing on the new Ruff Sqwad Entertainment label. Dirty Danger, the standout beat-maker of the group, has also collaborated with Rapid on his EP and has a forthcoming solo project of his own, the six track ‘Danger Season’ EP which is due in May…
Throughout this session, these two swap questions about the evolution of the genre, reminisce on growing up with Dizzee & Wiley and the good times on tour with Ruff Sqwad…
Rapid interviews Dirty
Rapid: Within the past 10 years of grime, which do you feel has changed the most. Production or Artists? Explain why.
Dirty: I would say artists have changed more than Grime’s production although both are not what they were before, although I guess that just happens with time. The reason why I would say Grime artists have changed the most in the past 10 years is because we have heard them try to broaden their fan base by spitting over different genres of music such as Hip-Hop, Trap, Dubstep, Funky House, and even Pop. It became a new trend to follow as some Grime artists did get signed for it and achieved great things. If I could name one person that has kept it strictly ‘GRIME’ it would have to be JME.
R: Do you think Grime has changed for the better or worse?
D: Well being part of the creation, as well as being a fan of Grime, there hasn’t been anything more exciting than the first years of Grime. It was refreshing and authentic but today I feel that it hasn’t been able to be taken to another level. There is a lack of growth and creativity.
R: Do you think there will ever be another sensation to birth a new sound from the local council estates like Dizzee Rascal and Wiley for example? Give a reason.
D: Yes. I believe there will be another sensation that will lead a scene and other artists will follow their sound but I don’t think it will be in Grime. Those spots have been filled in Grime just like they have in Hip Hop. There will never be another Biggie or Tupac to have such an iconic impact on the scene but there are artists today like Kanye West and Drake who are doing their own thing with it, and have made themselves certified Hip-Hop sensations of this generation.
R: What MC/Producer should have blown up but never got the right opportunity?
D: I think Ruff Sqwad should have blown up to be totally honest. I think if we had the opportunity for our sound to be exposed to the masses, many more people would have of appreciated Grime music. Ruff Sqwad wasn’t making typical Grime music we were making something that had more depth and emotion which drew in a wide multi-cultural audience.
R: Who you think is more of a legend out of Dizzee and Wiley and why?
D: Too hard to choose! Dizzee Rascal was someone that we grew up with and I learnt a lot from him. With the classic album ‘Boy In Da Corner’ he broke boundaries and achieved so much that we wouldn’t of even dreamed of doing. He made the scene realize that we can really change our lives for the better by just making our own music. For those reasons amongst still being relevant today, Dizzee is a legend, but Wiley has to be the ultimate legend because I feel like he has done so much for the scene. It’s hard to find a successful artist from the Grime scene that hasn’t been touched by Wiley; he should be an A&R (laughs). Away from helping the scene grow he has repeatedly battled fresh and hungry MCs to protect his crown and maintain his place on the throne. His work rate has been amazing; it still seems like we can have another 10 years out of him. Hail king Wiley!
R: Describe your sound with 3 words beginning with W…
D: WOW, WICKED, WTF – Watch out for my solo project dropping early April ‘DANGER SEASON’. This will most likey be your reaction (laughs).
Danger questions Rapid
D: What approach did you take production wise when you were creating the ‘Turning Point’ EP?
R: The EP has production from various producers including Heavy Trackers and DDark so it wasn’t me that single handedly produced the EP. However the sound that was used has an energetic Grime influence mixed with the heavily popular genre Trap. I have a massive record collection and I listened to a lot of my own old tracks for inspiration, so I used a lot of those elements in my EP.
D: What have your experiences been working with and growing up around Dizzee Rascal and Wiley?
R: I learnt a lot from Wiley which was a great experience because he brought me to one of the biggest studios that I had ever used when I was very very young. Just that experience alone made me want to pursue being a musician more and being around such amazingly big and expensive equipment made me feel important. Being there also taught me to be organised because I had to name and convert my individual stems of my productions which were then mixed by a professional engineer through a massive mixer. It was the first time with Wiley that I saw that kind of equipment.
Working and growing up round Dizzee was also a positive experience because he taught me how to have lots of self belief and to always concentrate on my own work as opposed to others. We could be chilling on the estate and we’d converse about new artists, new crews etc – Dizzee would dismiss what I’d say and be like “Don’t worry I’m next”. At that point to me it seemed impossible because these other music guys were getting top 10’s and although Dizzee was making music he was still on the estate. But because of his self belief he made it work and is now more relevant than those artists that we used to talk about. Self belief is very important.
D: Do you see yourself becoming a full time DJ/Producer in the near future?
R: Being a full time Producer/DJ is definitely on the cards!
D: Do you feel Grime music has evolved as quick as it should have, if not why?
R: I feel as though it hasn’t evolved as much as it could do for many reasons. One of the reasons is that when a lot of the artists that come from the Grime scene make it commercially, their record labels don’t allow a budget for Grime music because it doesn’t appeal to all audiences. Artists need to take more control and bring in more elements and fusions into their music which will help to connect to wider audiences.
D: Tell me about one of the funniest events that’s happened while touring with the rest of Ruff Sqwad.
R: I can’t remember what city we were in but basically after the show we went to an after party but Tinch was too tired to go the after party, and you put on Tinch’s sunglasses and security and a massive crowd of screaming fans came to take pictures of you thinking that you were Tinch. It lasted all night and not one person realised that you weren’t him.
D: Is it true that the Jammer’s ‘Murkle Man’ instrumental was supposed to be for you?
R: Yes. A few years back I went to studio with Wiley and I heard this beat that he’d made for me. I liked it but wanted him to change bits for me, I was very picky, at this time he must have been thinking “who do you think you are you little shit?”. Within a few days Jammer must have passed through the studio and got on a hype when he heard it, so Wiley let Jammer use the beat.
D: How did the link up with you and Future Brown come about and can we look forward to anymore released in 2014?
R: Tim and Barry from Tim&Barry TV contacted me and told me that a group called Future Brown wanted to do some tracks with me. I hadn’t heard of them at the time but I did my research and a lot of their production sounded very authentic, it reminded me of when I did my first track on fruity loops. We started talking online, they said they were big fans of Ruff Sqwad which meant a lot to me especially because they’re from America, where they’ve got such a heavy Hip-Hop influence. Sometimes I forget that music can spread so far. They sent me a few instrumentals, I picked two, and me, Roachee and you vocalled them at my studio. We’ve done a few live shows with them this past month as well as radio, and we’re in talks about releasing some more music this year together.
D: What does the rest of 2014 look like for you?
R: My aim is to release two more EPs, followed by an album as well as find and mould new and upcoming artists and producers for my label Ruff Sqwad Entertainment.