You shouldn’t need me to tell you, but in case you don’t know, D Double E is about as close to grime royalty as you’re going to get. His 20-year career even mirrors the rise of grime itself. One of the first to cross over from jungle and D’n’B, he’s grown and refined his style from N.A.S.T.Y. Crew into Newham Generals, and now as a solo artist. Even today, he’s considered by most to be the MC’s MC.
So it’s weird to think that until now, DDE’s only real full-length effort is 2018’s Jackumm. If that record felt like a victory lap through his years as a dancehall MC, then D.O.N., his follow up, feels more like an attempt to break new ground. With production handled by Splurgeboys, Greatness Jones, Fanatix, Prince Rapid, 1ne, Diamonds and D Double E himself, the twelve tracks don’t lack ambition. Cuts like ‘Bedroom Bully’ break away from the grime mould to flirt with bashment and ‘Catch of the Day’ actually making a decent stab at drill.
It’s the strength of D Double E’s address book, however, that makes D.O.N. such a relentless joy to listen too. The collab list reads like a rollcall of grime and UK rap new and old, with Jme, Ghetts, Giggs, Ms Banks, Skrapz, Triggs and Kano all pitching up and helping out. In fact, the track that the latter appears on, ‘Tell Me Thing’, is my personal stand-out, a percussive, explosive slice of old school grime that feels like it’s been pulled straight from pirate radio, circa 2005.
If there’s one complaint, it’s that D.O.N. tends to fall back on the old school grime a bit too much, with parts of the record starting to feel like an extended pat on the back. But then, when you’ve been around as long and done as much as D Double E, you’ve basically earned the right to do what the hell you like.
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