In the increasingly visible world of alternative rap in the UK, there is variety aplenty. The clue is in the name—alternative—and artists have used that to push the boundaries of the music they make. Take 808INK, Jesse James Solomon and The Age of L.U.N.A. for instance, who each make compelling music outside the norm. That spirit is especially obvious with Daniel OG, the Hackney rapper and one third of the self-proclaimed 'world's gnarliest boyband', Neverland Clan. This is a young man with a plan to shake up the game with his electric charisma and swagger, both on record and outside of music.
It's hard to pin down OG's sound, for which he has coined the term 'NUGRIME', explaining to Nation of Billions last year: "NUGRIME is grime, but I'm not your typical grime artist; I blend together a broader range of influences, such as 2000s-era R&B and hip-hop, into my production style and lyrics." There is a clear attempt then not to be easily categorised and pigeonholed into a sound that isn't necessarily his. Granted, grime is going through a renaissance at the present time, but Daniel OG is out to show that there is more to UK music than what is currently popular. With such wide-ranging influences as Pharrell Williams, Timbaland and Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Kuti, it's not surprising that OG has embraced the weird and wonderful in equal measure. Though not prolific with the music at this point in his short career, Daniel has crafted music to suit every mood.
2015's self-produced Art Attack EP, his debut, was a deep delve into his philosophy, with a Dragonball Z-like fusion of bouncy R&B, boom-bap rap and grime-flavoured instrumentals. Daniel's lyrics spoke to wanting the most beautiful women in Milan on one of his most popular tracks, "Plan", but also showed duality by attacking then-Prime Minister David Cameron, capturing the disengagement from politics that many young British people feel. "A charge for childbirth? You must be kidding! Can't put a price on living/ Increase uni fees for a degree, trapped us in a vision that I don't see," he spits on "Remedies".
It became clear that Daniel was different in his approach, dropping mood music with a message; he could relate to those who embrace an alternative side to life, by way of Thrasher apparel, weed, and quirky beats. Art Attack was an infectious project that put Daniel on the map, and he has gone from strength to strength ever since. Aided by the foundation of the Neverland Clan (and fellow members Omelet and Ryan Hawaii) Daniel has jettisoned into the public imagination, dropping a series of vibes. Songs such as "I Wanna", "Solange", "#DamnDaniel", and the most recent "Team Talk" showcased an MC whose pen game had seriously improved from his debut project.
OG has been in high demand, as told by his numerous collaborations with peers like 808INK, Oscar #Worldpeace, Lancey Foux and, most recently, UK rap legend Mike Skinner. His "Plan" video, which he dropped last year, even received an almighty co-sign from the golden man of grime, Skepta—an acknowledgment that spoke to Daniel's fiercely creative arsenal. Even outside of the music, his love for fashion has further increased his visibility, as he reps the statement-making garms designed by his fellow Neverland Clan member, Ryan Hawaii. The future promises a new project, PRESEASON, and with it, a heightened position among the core audience of young and creatives rebels that refuse to follow rules. As a product of this fearless, DIY generation, Daniel OG will continue to take those values to the world and beyond.