D Double E,
It's been almost two whole decades since D Double E, the former N.A.S.T.Y Crew MC and one of half of the iconic grime duo Newham Generals, first stepped onto the scene, debuting in jungle, but fans have seemingly been content with his rave-ready reload bars and idiosyncrasies on singles, that having a full body of work is merely a hat-tip to his already legendary status. I, for one, however, am glad it's here. Jackuum! (a D Double E-coined term for 'reload') is the fittingly-titled solo debut from the East London veteran, which comes at yet another weird time for grime—a time where there's more comment pieces and books being written on the scene, than the actual number of memorable tracks being produced by it. And while all of that is needed—and appreciated by many—the music must come first.
We've all been caught up in the storm of Stormzy's chart-topping success and Skepta's cultural dominance—and rightly so, too: they've both taken the sound to places we've never seen before. But, Gang Signs & Prayer dropped a whole year ago, and Konnichiwa, twelve months before that. In this grime well-wisher's humble opinion, there's been a major need for a singles-heavy project—a full-length grime album—to get excited about again; to dissect the flows, rhymes, and riddims that have been conjured up. And from Jackuum!'s first track, the "Jackuum! FM Intro", we're reminded why this movement is such a unique musical force.
Here we're presented with a 20-song offering from an artist who has remained true to his pirate radio roots, unafraid to keep it all the way gutter lyrically ("Trippin'"), while using the backdrops of Sir Spyro, Footsie, Swifta Beater et al to relay his East End tales of old, such as on "Back In The Day"—a skit featuring the late MC Stormin—and "Back Then", the jazz-inflected, Swindle-produced standout. He even blesses us with classic bars on the horn-blaring "Schoolin'", for added throwback effect. On "Dem Man Dere", D Double E shells a UKG 2.0 riddim with the same stooshness UK garage was all about ("there's no searching man, 'cos the door-man is a big fan"); you can almost imagine it being set in a Sun City rave—Iceberg garms and all. "Seeing Double", meanwhile, is an ode to the high-grade, the new smoker's anthem you never knew you needed, almost like a grimier Pt. 2 to his 2016 single "Lemon Trees". "Live Tonight"—with its '80s pop-like synth work and dreamy melody—is the most surprising but deserving standout, as Double flexes calmly throughout the track ("free drinks tonight, got the bar on lock!").
Features on the long overdue release come from long-time friends and collaborators Skepta and Wiley, and new ones in Littlez and AJ Tracey, who each lace it with some of their finest rhyme work in recent times. A sterling effort from a golden-era MC—on Jackuum!, D Double E proves time and again why he's one of grime's top tier tempo specialists, and also why he's your favourite MC's favourite emcee.