I entered a boardroom style location with half of the Roll Deep members perched at the table, it felt like it was some strange episode of The Apprentice. In reality, it was more like Live at the Apollo! Here’s what happened... words by Riky Bains
RWD: So I was looking through the RWD archives and came across this Roll Deep takeover on the cover of a 2005 issue. When I look at this it just screams to me ‘carefree’ and ‘fun’, seven years later has that changed?
[Flow Dan] I think it has a little bit...
[Breeze] (In an American accent) We still don’t give a f***! [The entire room bursts into laughter and I think the tone for the rest of the interview has been set]
[Flow Dan] Sometimes you get the pressure of work, you know what I mean. Really we don’t give a sh*t but I’d say the product we’re putting out has become more important.
Do you think British music in general has become more about the business side rather than actually having fun with it?
[J2K] I don’t think it’s just British music, that’s music everywhere in the world. There’s a fun side; when you do it as just a hobby. You can still have fun with it when you’re working with it but nowadays it’s more about the timetables, the schedules and the dates that you’ve got to meet with. It just becomes more like work.
[Flow Dan] I think the most successful people are the people that can I hide the fact that it’s work and make it all look fun.
Who do you think does that best?
[Flow Dan] Don’t know! (Manga who had been tight-lipped up until this point, chuckles).
[J2K] You see it, you see the people that are just more natural with their music and then there’s people who are just stressed out because the music ain’t natural for them. I’d say someone like Dappy is a natural artist, he’s one of them people you can look at and say he’s a music person. You get some people who are just about image like they’re worried about what they’re wearing, they haven’t got their stylist for the day and they don’t know what they’re rocking, you get me, those are pressures for them. You see other people for who the music comes first, you know and it just seems more natural.
Obviously, over the years the members of the crew have chopped and changed, who’s officially Roll Deep right now?
Breeze: Nobody. [Cue a ripple of laughter and a few dodgy looks from everybody, but I fear I may have hit a bad button with this question so I throw in some humour and pray that it enhances my innocence].
Am I at the right place? What is this, a set up?! [Cue rapturous laughter from the table, mission accomplished but now back to the serious stuff].
[Flow Dan] You see that ‘officially’ question, people need to drop that out because don’t worry you can just listen to the music and see who’s involved.
[Moving swiftly and subtly on] Would you say that you’re always evolving as a group, Tania is the newest recruit; are you always looking out for new additions?
[Manga] Nah it doesn’t really work like that, it just comes naturally like Tania worked with us on Green Light and we did a few shows with her. Apart from that there’s not really been that many people added.
[J2K] Think about this, I’m the latest member of Roll Deep apart from Tania, and I joined ages ago...
Do you ever see Roll Deep, god forbid, coming to an end like...
[J2K] Yes always! [Everybody finds this hilarious] All the time! [More laughter]
[Flow Dan] Nah go on let him finish his question, go on...
I know it’s a bit of a pessimistic question! But do you think you’ll always keep evolving and there’ll always be something there for Roll Deep?
[Flow Dan] We will evolve but hopefully it won’t be a thing where Flow Dan, Manga, Breeze, Wiley or J2K as artists HAVE to do music. It will hopefully just be a thing where we’ve done the work now to get us comfortable. I don’t think I’m ever gonna stop wanting to voice a track. I do think I’ll be past the stage where I can say this is what Flow Dan’s about and just tweet about it, I won’t care about that but my mind won’t stop, I’ll always be thinking of stuff so i’ll explode if I don’t voice my thoughts!
Moving onto the mixtape then, it’s called ‘No Comment Star’ – what’s the name about?
[Manga] Letting the music speak for itself, we don’t have to say nothing! No comment! We always get asked about us doing pop music, I’m sure you’ve got a question about that... [I proudly show him my notepad demonstrating there are no such questions, one nil to me I think] ... Nah? Okay but normally we get asked those questions and we’re showing we do all kinds of genres and we just carry on working regardless, the music speaks for itself!
Cool, so what can people expect from the mixtape?
[Flow Dan] BULLET BULLET BULLET! [everyone else echoes this]. You can expect straight in-your-face, kick-out-your-back-teeth grime. You’re not gonna be able to skip no tracks and think what music is this, it’s gonna be obvious, it’s gonna tear up the place and you’re gonna love it.
Who did you work with outside of Roll Deep on this CD?
[Flow Dan] Jammer, Opium, Young Kye, Swifta Beats, Discarda...
[J2K] There’s a Nicki Minaj feature on my track aswell...
Oh really? I must’ve skipped that track...
[J2K] Yeah yeah that’s on the bonus disc [laughs].
[Flow Dan] These are people we work with anyway like we didn’t really look that far out. These are artists that are in our general circle anyway. So we just kept it simple, no surprises, just stuff we know you’re gonna like!
Do you think you can repeat the success of 2010 anytime soon?
[J2K] Yeah I think anything is possible. Before 2010, nobody expected that to happen but it happened init. You could say before then Roll Deep was just grinding it out, trying to find a way and then 2010 came and you got hits in your face! And then you know, back to no more hits again! [Everyone laughs]. But nah that’s only because we’ve been in the studio working so we’ll just have to see whatever the new stuff produces, you get what I’m saying?
When is the new album coming out?
[Manga] We don’t even know to be honest, there’s not a date yet. It’s called ‘Ten’.
[J2K] We’ve done some deals in other countries as well like Japan, Australia and all that. We actually released a single out in Japan and that’s like the number one video over there now.
Nice! Speaking of going international, what are you views on the Olympics?
[J2K] Ahhh it’s a pain in the arse!
[J2K] It’s a pain in the arse really because we’re all kinda local to it so now we’ve got the lanes and the traffic and roadworks and it’s been a lot of hassle to be fair. I’m not enjoying the build up to the Olympics right now and I don’t think any local is right now.
[Scratchy and Brazen walk in]
[Scratchy] Erm... the Olympics...
[Brazen] That’s why we’ve been late because of them stupid lanes!
[Scratchy] [does a drum roll on the table] yeah it’s nang obviously. I ain’t got a car so I’m alright.
RWD: Anything you’d like to say to the people before we wrap up?
[Flow Dan] [In an American accent] Don’t f*** with the n***** that don’t f*** with the n*****! [the whole room falls into hysterics and I call time on what was an interesting interview!]
Roll Deep's mitape 'No Comment Star' is available to download now from rolldeepofficial.com.
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