In various genres there are names of veteran groups or artists that are synonymous with the genre being talked about. For grime music (although he began his musical career in the jungle and garage scene) one of those such artists is D Double E – a London native of Jamaican descent, and part of the group Newham Generals.
It’s hard to dispute D Double E‘s (Real name Darren Dixon and often just referred to as ”D Double” for short) notable commitment to the rise of the grime genre when it was in its early infancy; he famously features on Lethal Bizzle‘s 2004 hit ‘Pow’, he played a very memorable role in The Streets’ ‘Get out of my house‘ grime remix, there are countless sets where he has been in attendance and he’s been a familiar name on the bill of many shows over the years. D Double E was previously in the Nasty Crew, and has also worked with the likes of Dizzee Rascal, Giggs, P Money, Jammer, JME, Chip, Wiley, Shola Ama, Mr Hudson, Gorgon City and more.
Name drops of other notable artists he’s worked with aside, his skill as an MC is what truly makes D Double a special artist; which is probably why this year he’s been honoured by the KA & GRM Daily awards with a legacy award. The release of a 20 track debut album from D Double is undoubtedly a landmark moment for the grime genre and black british culture – and with features on ‘Jackuum’ from Littlez (of Section Boyz), Wiley, Skepta and AJ Tracey as well as a very creative track list freestyle this album will undoubtedly attract the attention of some newer listeners.
After opening with the introductory ‘Jackuum FM Intro’ D Double E then begins by setting the levels with ‘Bark It‘ (featuring a gloomy beat produced by Diamondz) – a track which shows off his technical skill with words well. It’s a song with a lot of one liners and metaphors so much like the rest of the project, the more you hear it the more you unpack hidden meaning and double (sometimes triple) entendres that would take a much longer review than this to fully explore.
But if ‘Bark It’ has some subtlety; then the third track of the album ‘Flatmate’(produced by Swifta Beater) is as bluntly “Don’t fuck with me/Don’t fuck about” as the album gets.
“It’s that mate,
I’ll come to your yard; to your flat mate.
Lick down you.
And your flatmate.
Can’t get away because your tyres flat mate.
I done it, what you gonna do about that mate?
I done it, what you gonna do about that mate?
Who’s to say that you’re gonna jack me?
I don’t know about that mate.”
D Double E – Flatmate
Any momentum built up from the songs ‘Bark It‘ and ‘Flatmate’ is dropped (quite on purpose it would seem) with one of the 3 skits that break the project into segments – ‘Unda Obo (Skit)’.
What then follows is; subjectively speaking, the most impressive run of songs on Jackuum.
‘Lookman’ [Produced by Rude Kid], ‘Better Than The Rest‘ (featuring Wiley [Produced by Diamondz]) ,’Nang‘ (Featuring Skepta [Produced by Footsie]), as well as the nostalgic single ‘Back Then‘ [Produced by Swindle] which takes long-time fans on a journey the old days; when they’d probably be listening to artists like D Double E by tuning into one of London’s many pirate radio stations (or on the now defunct ‘Channel U’ music channel ), with a brief vocabulary/slang lesson and reminisces of antics of the past.
Not long after this point of the album it becomes apparent that there’s been a significantly different style being tested out.
While the rest of the album isn’t bad; there are still fantastic lyrics, production and songs on the remainder of ‘Jackuum’, but after the ‘Out ‘n’ About (Skit)’it really is evident that the D Double E that many will be used to hearing MC on sets and at shows from across the years is moving towards something new, and what it seems to come down to really is the new format.
Constrained to a sleek album of studio produced tracks, with this first outing it feels like the D Double magic, the unpredictable flair and spontaneity can’t shine as much as it can during a set where anything goes; and the DJ can ‘wheel up’ or ‘reload’ a song the second he or she hears something so good it needs to be repeated. Although this is perhaps an obvious thing that would happen (and to be fair it’s an obstacle that all grime albums that don’t feature audio from sets or shows are up against), it still hits home as a stumbling block that will have to be overcome going forward with LPs – but conversely, it likely won’t be problem when promoting the album with shows where D Double E‘s infamously infectious energy (and ad-libs) can thrive.
With all that said, the final third of the LP features some songs with some interesting themes. From the feel good vibes of ‘Live Tonight‘, to the all-round excellent ‘Special Delivery‘, and the quotable ‘Shenanigans’ – it’s clear that D Double E has the ability to turn out great studio albums; his single track releases before this project also seem to reflect this, but as the man would probably say himself (and as evidenced from the wait fans have had for this first studio album) Rome wasn’t built in a day.
“Just like LL,
I’m doing it well.
I’m casting a spell.
I’m feeling swell.
I’m rolling an L.
I might as well.
I’mma smoke this one for my niggas in jail.”
D Double E – Special Delivery
In summary, it’s a strong and authentic project – good beats, interesting features that work well but not so many that it saturates the project.
D Double E recently stated on an interview that he wants to release another album relatively quickly after this one. With the debut ‘Jackuum’ as the foundation of sorts, it will be interesting to see what the veteran MC has in store for future works.