Eight years is a long time in pop-culture. It’s a particularly respectable stint when you put into consideration the fact that a musician’s lifespan from cover-star to cliché seems to be getting shorter. It could be said that 2002 was a pretty unessential year for the UK; although, of course it had its milestones: the Queen Mum passed away, The Clash lost Joe Strummer for good, and Little Mo finally gave Trevor what for in Eastenders. The music scene also had its fair share of ups and downs. Kelly Clarkson won the first ever American Idol, whilst Ms. Dynamite won the Mercury Music prize and because Bo Selecta didn’t exist yet; Craig David was still considered ‘Slicker than Your Average.’ Nevertheless, amongst all the supposed innovation and uncertainty, in 2002 East London proudly gave birth to the grime super collective: Roll Deep.
As patriarchs of the grime and urban music scene, they’ve experienced their fair share of label switching and line-up alterations since the release of ‘In At The Deep End’ in 2005. After the release of their Greatest Hits album ‘Street Anthems,’ in 2009, it became debatable that perhaps the collective were drifting into retrospective obscurity. However, these qualms have been well and truly put to rest. With two recent number ones under their belt and a fourth album complete, Roll Deep are arguably rounding off their most successful year yet, as founding member Breeze explains...
It’s been a big year for you since you signed with Virgin, what’s been the highlight?
Obviously going number one first time round, that was definitely a highlight. Err, then the second number one, which was another great highlight! (Laughs)
You guys have just finished a university tour, how was that?
Oh that was hard work! We had to get up early, and we played football everyday wherever we were. We done three: Leeds, Reading and Uxbridge, and erm... we lost all the games (laughs). We were totally wrecked after the games though, and then we had to go back to our hotel to get ready for the rave in the night. So yeah, the raves were alright, they were fine, but it just took it out of us. Like three days, one after the other... Thank god it’s over.
Your last two singles ‘Good Times’ and ‘Green Light’ both made it to number one spot; does ‘Take Control’ mark a Roll Deep singles chart hat-trick?
We’d like to hope so, fingers crossed! Guess we just need people to buy it!
Your new single is out on October 31 and features Ex-Misteeq and Strictly Come Dancing’s very own Alesha Dixon, how did that come about and what was she like to work with?
Oh she’s great to work with, obviously!(laughs) But nah, we had the tune already and we wanted someone to feature on it, so we was just playing about and then her name come up. Then we sent her the song and she liked it, so we got her in the studio and then yeah, it went down well. Then we did the video as well which was really good, and she was really nice. She was easy to work with.
How long did the video take?
The video took about 7 hours, but it was shot at night and it was really horrible. It was a rainy night, and it was in a dark car park in Peckham, it wasn’t the best video shoot.
You need to do one away; you’ve had two number ones now, go to LA or somewhere!
(Laughs) Arrgh we wanted to, believe me! It wasn’t our idea to do it in a dirty carpark!
It’s the MOBO Awards on Wednesday and you guys are playing, plus Alesha is presenting with Reggie Yates, is it fair to suspect a performance of ‘Take Control’ is on the cards?
Is it fair to expect one? I don’t think we are doing one to be honest with ya. Cos she’s ‘doing stuff’ and ‘blah, blah, blah’, which is a bit unfortunate.
So what are you performing, or can you not say?
I can say, but I might not... (Laughs) Nah we are doing a medley of ‘Good Times’ and ‘Green Light’. So yeah; it’ll be great. In fact, I don’t know if I’m allowed to tell you- don’t put it in there!
But you’ve told me now! You’ve given me the temptation, it’s too late!
Well, then you didn’t hear it from me, I’ve disowned saying it!
As well as the single coming out, your fourth album ‘Winner Stays On’ is released on the November 8, where did the title come from?
Manga come up with the name. Basically, when you’re younger and you’re playing... I dunno what game... kick up the wall, the winner stays on. And we are in that frame of mind at the moment, where we’re winning and we’d like to stay here. So yeah, the minute you lose, you fall off...
How does ‘Winner Stays On’ compare to ‘Return of the Big Money Sound’, and your previous albums?
Pfft, much better! We always try to make the last single we made, or album or whatever, better. You have to or else it wouldn’t make sense really. But yeah, this album we are very happy with, been working on it a few months, and it’s where we want it to be at the moment... Ready to release!
As if the single and album weren’t enough, you are going on tour again in February. Is there a track off the new album that you’re really looking forward to performing live?
There are a few tracks actually that we really like on the album. There’s one called ‘The One', it’s a bit of an emotional song; basically it’s about friends and family that don’t get to see us much. As well as ‘Team’, that’s a more dancey; upbeat tune produced by Scratchy, that’ll be good to perform. And there are a few others there, but I don’t want to give too much away!
Finally, as one of the best and longest-standing Grime crews around, what’s your secret to survival?
Erm, persistence I suppose. You’ve just gotta keep on your game, with whatever it is you do in life. The minute you give up, it’s all gonna go wrong. You just gotta have faith in yourself really, I think, in order to go forward. That’s what we believe anyway, that’s what we’ve tried to do. It’s been hard as well, you know, there have been times when we felt like giving up but we stuck in there, and it’s paid off.
‘Winner Stays On’ is released on November 8.