by SashaS

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  More on: Roll Deep

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Roll Deep: single of the summer peaks at No. 11

Roll Deep, the crew that brought you Dizzee Rascal, Wiley and own debut album ‘In The Deep End’ (released on 06 June), issued debut single ‘The Avenue’ in mid-July that sadly only peaked at Number 11. Taking a classic song, Maisonnettes 1982 Top 10 record, ‘Heartache Avenue’, they cut-it-up, re-shaped it, injected some street-sense and hey presto…

The world was too busy being fearful and needed some mushy song to occupy the bruised, battered and terrorised souls of denizens… ‘The Avenue’ is extracted from the crew’s CD where it looms large among other intriguing tracks. The bright and breezy ‘Heartache Avenue’ was tracked down by Wiley on the ‘Net who chopped the tune up and the Roll Deep MCs rapped over the top and within a couple of days a monster tune emerged.

When Relentless Records - the label which gave a home to both Joss Stone and So Solid Crew - heard this track it knew it had a new sensation on its hands. Blending the former’s soulful warmth with the uncensored street knowledge of the rough-neck South London garage dons who gave the world ‘21 Seconds’, Roll Deep offer discerning listeners the best of both worlds.

With Flow Dan, Breeze, Riko, Trim, Brazen, Jet Le, and Scratchy leading the charge on the mic, Carnage and Maximum on the turntables, and beats by Danny Weed, Target and Wiley (who chips in with the odd vocal too) ‘In At The Deep End’ is a Grime central that is bursting out in new directions.

The reason Roll Deep are ideally placed to take this music forward is that they were there at the beginning: in the raves, on Rinse FM, selling records out of their car boots and specialist shops like Roman Road’s legendary Rhythm Division. The current line-up began to take shape as early as the turn of this [maddening] century and an early (pre-Dizzee Rascal) incarnation recorded ‘Terrible’ - one of the first ever MC-led Grime tracks. But five years later, having “done Ayia Napa till the wheels fell off the moped”, they’re ready to break out of the East London underground and take on the world.

With all these in mind, we sat down with Target and Danny Weed one sunny afternoon and thrashed out some subjects.

“All we try to do,” Target starts explain the MO, “is keep it happening and real; we know that people like to hear things from the past, as well as the new things, and we try to mix them up. We make sure we put all our ideas forward and work on them.”

Danny Weed: “If someone gets to hear the single first and then the album, they’d be surprised because the album is diverse. We tried to put different sounds on the album, to reflect all our interests… I still believe that there are other tunes on the album single-loving people should like.”

Target: “We like to surprise people, as long as they are pleasantly surprised.”

What is undeniable on your album is the sense of fun as too many contemporary acts appear to be doing is as a career?

T: “We are professionals but without fun, there is nothing, there is no creativity… All members of our crew are totally different characters and all are expressing themselves through music whilst having fun.”

Being signed to a major company [EMI] label, that sense could be restrained; have they made you aware of some expectations, have they put some pressure upon you?

T: “Definitely but that is to be expected. They are a major record company and don’t spend so much money without expecting a return… The good thing is that their aims are similar to ours and there have been no disagreements or arguments. We’ve had a huge following on the underground and have to contend with their expectation; we also have our own ambition and expectations…”

Your scene had some very negative publicity; do you think it could be a hurdle of sorts?

T: “Yeah, it can definitely have an effect… Look what happened to So Solid [Crew], it is all because of the media. They were looking for scapegoats; So Solid made one or two mistakes on their own, and everybody turned on a backlash… We’ve been fighting it ever since on the underground level and for about 18 months we couldn’t get a gig.”

The things have certainly improved with your just completed dates with Snoop Dog?

T: “It was really great and we got to meet the man but the security was so tight… We are doing smaller dates and clubs, television… Things have really got busy since we signed [October 2004] and the work is piling up. We start to understand the demands of public.”

DW: “Our album was ready before we signed and we had the complete creative control. Even after signing, we made two or three more tracks and the company didn’t interfere at all… Well, they said they wanted few tracks off but we refused and insisted on them being on the album. We knew how we wanted the album to sound and there was no going back.”

T: “We don’t want to compromise because we’ve been building our reputation for years and didn’t want to give any concessions but do our own thing.”

Your former member, Dizzee Rascal, launched a label recently [Dirtee Stink]; would you have signed with him if you were still looking for a deal?

T: “I doubt it because we were after a proper, global distribution. He doesn’t even keep in touch because he’s been busy ever since living the group, two years ago. We are glad he’s done so well and it is good for everyone, for us, for the scene.”

Roll Deep’s album ‘In The Deep End’ is available now on Relentless