Interview by Rick Thorne. Photo by Brian Bartholomew
From Murder Dog Vol 9 #2 (2002)
What level is Rolldeep at right now?
Flow Dan: Your fanbase always starts from the underground and the underground are locked into pirate radio stations and the rave scene. They’re not really watchin’ the mainstream so to get your message across to your underground fanbase you have to be workin’ on the pirate radio stations, puttin’ out your stuff independently, white labels and progressing from there. If you wanna get big you gotta start from the underground.
Which pirate station do you work with?
Flow Dan: Rinse FM, 100.3 is the home station which Pay As U Go and Rolldeep are on. It’s based in East London but I get calls from every corner of London.
Breeze: Even outside of London.
What do you think makes a good garage emcee?
Chef Lee: Talkin’ about life experiences. Anyone can emcee but you need the confidence and havin’ a story to tell.
Breeze: I’d say it’s more than rhyming that we’ve got, I mean there’s a lot of bubblegum emcees out there. We got a lot of talent in our camp and we’re just expressing what’s around us, there’s a lot of people that are gifted musically.
Flow Dan: A good emcee talks about things that make sense. People say you shouldn’t say things if you don’t do it but actors act all kinds of roles out and they’re not murderers in their real life. So just being able to say what you wanna say and make it sound realistic. That’s what I think makes a good emcee. Some people get big from havin’ one style. I don’t think you really have to be versatile, you gotta be good at what you do. If it’s one thing that you do and you do it good every time, someone will like that dy’get what I’m sayin’? So you don’t have to be able to do everything.
Breeze: ‘Coz with garage music when they’re droppin’ it you’ll get different beats, they’ll be different tempos, so you’ll have to change whatever you got anyway. So really you are versatile.
What kind of tracks do you like to get on?
Chef Lee: Gangsta beats.
Breeze: It’s a different type of garage that we’re makin’. I don’t know what to call it but it’s not just garage, I mean there’s a lot of hip-hop influence, there’s a lot of ragga influence, there’s different things that we involve. So we sound different anyway.
Flow Dan: I think that a wider range of man can relate to this type of music because it’s got so many different influences in it. You don’t just have to be into garage or jungle to listen to this type of music but it’s got elements of all that in it. So we can appeal to all them people through that we’re doin’.
What’s the meaning behind the name Rolldeep?
Flow Dan: Rollin’ deep just means that whatever you’re doin’ you’re keepin’ it low, to yourself and in your family.
Breeze: There’s between 8 to 15 just emcees that are rollin’ with us.
Do you make records or is Rolldeep more of an emcee/deejay collective?
Breeze: We make records and we also play out doin’ P.A.s and that. We make underground deep music for the streets. Wiley the producer is known to do deep beats, that’s what we’re representin’.
What area of London is Rolldeep from?
Breeze: We’re all from East London.
What’s your area like?
Breeze: It’s got a good ethnic mix, you see people of all different cultures and genders. It’s nothing different to anywhere else in the world really, you got a good side and a bad side.
Flow Dan: You got your working class, you got your thieves, you got your drug addicts, you got your drug dealers, you got the kids playin’ football on the sides.
Chef Lee: There’s a ghetto everywhere.
What music were you into before you got into garage?
Chef Lee: The foundation, jungle.
Flow Dan: Hip-hop and ragga originally. I got into jungle, I had a phase of that, it wasn’t doing much for me. I scrapped that and went back to garage.
Breeze: I was listening to all the regular people like the Buju Bantons and the Capletons y’get me, all the big men.
Flow Dan: We just listened to them, listened to their way. We don’t let them come out in us because then you’re gettin’ yourself into something.
Where do you wanna take it next?
Breeze: We’re releasing records already, we’ve got records out there on the underground but we do wanna get signed.
Flow Dan: Get to the video stage ‘coz then hopefully everyone can get their own careers on the go from Rolldeep ‘coz you don’t have to just work with Rolldeep, you can do your own thing. But it’s best to try and work your way up through this. But it’s not for everyone, like if you wanna get big come and be in Rolldeep. It’s like whoever’s here are ready, established, to use this as a springboard to get out there. We’ve made over 25, 30 songs so we’ve got a whole library ready to go.
Do you think the more majors get involved in this music the more it will change?
Flow Dan: Yeah it might because they’ll be certain people that will know that to earn money and to get signed their garage music has to sound a certain way, appealing to sell. But people like us, people that are tryin’ to keep it real, we’re not tryin’ to please anyone with our music. We’re just makin’ the music and whoever takes to it, takes to it. We’re not makin’ it a certain way thinkin’ who will and who won’t. So it won’t change our music, I think it will change garage.
Would you say the stuff you do is more like U.K. rap?
Breeze: We’ve found a new music shall we say, but we don’t know what to call it. It’s an offset of garage.