Interview: Roll Deep
The legendary Roll Deep Crew are back with a bang with the new mixtape ‘No Comment Star’, which hears them take their sound back to grime. The mixtape features the likes of Jammer and Opium and production from G Tank, Swifta Beater and more in the lead up to their album ‘10’. The Wrap Up’s Shireen Fenner was joined by some of the group’s members to talk early days, evolution, and fans…
The Wrap Up: For those who don’t know about Roll Deep, can you tell us how you formed?
Roll Deep: Roll Deep was a collective of friends and family that have grown up in the same area, just a family thing. Music wasn’t always the profession; we were just street people. In around 2000, Roll Deep was at the forefront of the grime scene and as we had Wiley in the group - obviously that helped! Later on, we got a record deal and got some commercial success with tunes like ‘Shake A Leg’. We had two no.1’s in 2010. Today is about the ‘No Comment Star’ mixtape - a couple members have grown up and other members have left, but it’s still the core.
TWU: There are currently nine members in Roll Deep. How do you decide who should be on what track?
Roll Deep: We don’t, it just happens naturally. It’s just whoever comes the strongest; the strongest survive basically. Sometimes not everyone likes the same song. Tania’s not on the mixtape because of the style of music, so it all depends on what’s needed when.
TWU: Members of the crew have changed and left in the 10 years you have been around. Has this affected the group and has it made it stronger?
Roll Deep: We’ve gone grey and wrinkly [laughs]. We are stronger, because we’re growing and learning every day. The core is still there, that’s never changed - Roll Deep is Roll Deep. Whoever comes and goes, the name is still Roll Deep and that’s what we’re representing.
TWU: I assume you’re all good friends. What do you do when you’re not in the studio recording in your free time together?
Roll Deep: Sex. McDonalds. Paintballing. We don’t do anything abnormal to the regular person that doesn’t make music. I can go to the shop on my own; I don’t need the whole crew holding my hand. We live regular lives outside of music.
TWU: How do you make sure you stay relevant with the ever-evolving underground dance scene?
Roll Deep: We stay in the loop. We are making all types of music as well. Regarding the underground scene, it’s not something we try to be a part of, we didn’t try to make a grime scene, we didn’t try to do new music, it’s just who we are and we just know how to express it. If we stay original with what we do, we are always going to be relevant.
TWU: How would you define Roll Deep and your sound now as you have grown over the years?
Roll Deep: I don’t think we have a particular sound because we do so many different types of music. At the end of the day we are artists who enjoy making music. People say ‘When I’m Ere’ wasn’t our sound, but we’ve got different styles. From then till now it’s just progressed, we’ve branched out and done more things from when we were just grime - now were versatile.
TWU: How do you feel when your fans say ‘this tune isn’t Roll Deep?’
Roll Deep: You’re not Roll Deep either! People that say them things don’t understand the music industry. People are like ‘grime grime grime,’ but they don’t buy the tune when we bring it out. We are going to make sure we push our CD ‘No Comment Star’ and that’s got some songs on there that will shut some people up and answer a lot of questions that people have been asking like, ‘Can they do grime still? Are they still good?’
TWU: Recently in an interview Nas said ‘we don’t chase pop, pop chases us.’ How do you feel about this statement and do you agree?
Roll Deep: Yeah we didn’t choose music; music chose us [all laugh]. That statement is a good statement though, I never looked at it like that. When I check it, it does look like that. We were Roll Deep, doing our thing on the underground, a major label came to us and saw that and said ‘we want to bring that to another level.’ We weren’t chasing a deal, it came to us.
TWU: What is the funniest or weirdest thing a fan has ever done or said to you?
Roll Deep: Some have got tattoos of our lyrics; people bring gifts to the building and just wait for us to turn up. Last year when we were on tour, people brought us collages of our albums that they made and cookies and stuff. I don’t eat anything that’s given to me, but we are just polite and say thank you. It’s cool; they’re just showing appreciation at the end of the day. Obviously you're touching their lives in some way, but I’m not touching their food!
TWU: You’ve been doing press all day now, what’s the best question you’ve been asked and what is the most annoying question?
Roll Deep: ‘Where’s Wiley? Who is in Roll Deep?’ We don’t know the answer to either of them questions. The best question today has been ‘foreplay or f**k’? I just said no comment star…
TWU: Speaking of ‘No Comment Star’, the mixtape goes back to your grime roots. Why did you make this decision?
Roll Deep: Roll Deep are a collective of versatile artists who do different things, who just make music generally and appreciate all types of music. We always engage in that. People act like this is our first grime mixtape, but it’s not the case. We are always in a position where we can’t win, so we don’t try to impress anyone, we just do what we do. You can never please everyone.
TWU: What can we expect on the album?
Roll Deep: It’s called ‘10’, obviously to celebrate 10 years of Roll Deep - it’s got a range of stuff. It is a mash up of everything, but at a higher quality than a mixtape. We have got grimier ones that are high quality and better mix downs. Agent X is on there, so is S-X, Swindle, Wide Boys… there’s a range of people and music on there. We’re still waiting for the date, but it will be out this year.
'No Comment Star' is available to download now.
Words: Shireen Fenner (@shireenxoxo)