10 Questions with D Double E, The Grime Legend with a New Album ‘Double or Nothing’
D Double E is a grime legend. Plain and simple. The legendary MC was there in the genre’s very beginnings, before it even had a name. In the 1990s, he was spitting at house parties with Wiley all over London. As the 2000s broke, it was D Double E – real name Darren Dixon – who inspired Dizzie Rascal to first pick up the mic. A veteran across the city’s pirate radio stations and raves, Dixon became instantly recognisable for his now-infamous adlibs. “Bi-di-bup-bup” is one, “bluku bluku” another. You might recognise them from last year’s Ikea Christmas advert, where the 39-year-old firmly provided a pop-cultural mega moment just in time for the holiday season.
Since then, Dixon has been working tirelessly on his sophomore album, Double or Nothing (D.O.N), released last week. Where he describes his debut LP Jackuum as a “learning experience,” D.O.N moved at a far more rapid pace. “We were more sure of what we had to do, learning from mistakes,” he explains. 12 tracks in total, the album features seven of the UK’s finest musical exports, including Giggs, Ms Banks, JME and Kano. Tackling themes of drug use, gang violence and bedroom antics, D.O.N features some of D Double E’s most honest and cleverest lyricism to date.
In celebration of the album’s momentous release, we caught up with this musical juggernaut to ask him a bunch of questions about all sorts of stuff, really.
1. What’s your favourite memory from the studio when making D.O.N?
“I’ve got more than one so it’s hard to choose! Some of them were done online – someone sending me a beat and I’m liking it… Sometimes I go to the studio and I meet up with the producer. My studio session with Giggs and with Kano have been really special moments for me though. I’ve done more things online in the past and this felt more personal in person. My last project was very much separate. But this time we sat down together. It’s been more intimate making this project.”
2. If you could resurrect any shuttered London club, which would it be?
“Stratford Recs. It would have been East London’s pillar. The main club that everyone would have been to. Now we have Westfield there etc and it’s all built up in Stratford. So I think it would have been nice to have a big club there still. There isn’t really anything there now it’s all bars.”
3. This was the first time you produced your own music, how was that experience?
“I’ve been producing for over 10 years now but I made a decision in 2018 that I wanted to get my production more involved in my life. This is my first moment. I’ve always had beats, many people have heard my productions over the years and it’s been known undercover that I can produce! I also DJ too, just to have a little muck about. Now I’m starting to take it seriously and I am going to involve it in everything I do – maybe I’ll have a project I have produced myself one day.”
4. If you could only play one song live from your back catalogue, which would it be?
“It has to be “Frontline”. It just does the job. When I say that I mean that there are certain tunes I have that gets everyone mad but I don’t always do them. The songs that gets everyone going mad… I’m going for 3-4 mins, the veins are coming out of my neck! “Frontline” is less pressure for me and it makes the crowd go mad but not as hard as me. That’s the one I enjoy the most.
5. What did a day in lockdown look like for you?
“So boring man. They were the worst times. I just tried to get out for fresh air and take my kids for a walk. I was mad creative in lockdown. But still, there was no routine. Just did what I had to do.”
6. You’re a regular wearer of the full tracksuit. Which is your favourite one in your wardrobe?
“Pffft. I’ve got too many! I have one that I really love that I only wore once and have locked up. It’s a red Supreme one. Got the hat, top, bottoms and hoodie and it’s all the same pattern so when I wear it, it just looks mad.”
7. If you had to pick, which was your favourite song to write on the album?
“My favourite song? Oooo. hmmmm. I think I’ll have to say “Catch of the Day”. Because my brain was trying to be different on that one. A bit more creative with the punchlines, playing with the mic a bit.”
8. How should people listen to D.O.N for the first time?
“Get all the crew round, bottles of Henny, get your vibes, be somewhere nice and have some loud speakers. And from there, it’ll do the job. Or a nice long drive – it’ll keep you alive!”
9. Where’s your favourite place to play live and why?
“My favourite place to perform would be anywhere abroad. I like it when I am in different countries and settings. I went to a festival in Canada called Shambala and that was a sick experience. One of the maddest festivals I’ve been to! The crowd was like a Halloween dress-up party. Everyone had a costume on or some sorts of craziness. Outlook festival on the beach as well… I think I prefer outdoors at night with all the lights.”
10. Skepta once called you the greatest grime MC of all time. If you could give yourself another, un-Grime related title – what would it be?
“The Greatest Artist of All Time. If I am great, then that is the right title for me, because I am an artist. I am not just grime, I can do everything. Whether it’s Gorgon city, Jungle or “Ladies Hit Squad”/R&B vibe with Skepta, or bashment. Whatever vibe I can do it. That is the title I call myself.”
Photography courtesy of D Double E. ‘Double or Nothing’ is available on all major platforms now.