Newham Generals on the march
A LINE from the famous Frank Sinatra song New York, New York comes to mind when chatting to the Newham Generals, writes MATT TROLLOPE. Because if duo D Double E and Footsie can make it there (Newham) then surely, where the world of grime is concerned, the
A LINE from the famous Frank Sinatra song New York, New York comes to mind when chatting to the Newham Generals, writes MATT TROLLOPE.
Because if duo D Double E and Footsie can make it there (Newham) then surely, where the world of grime is concerned, they can make it anywhere!
Their mentor Dizzee Rascal hails from nearby Bow, as do the Roll Deep Crew and Wiley.
The Newham Generals have been plugging away as working MCs since the late '90s, but their time has most definitely come now, as they look to cross over like their esteemed colleagues.
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When I caught up with them, their album (out this week) was days from release and they talked excitingly about the recent tour with Dizzee, which took them as far as Texas, and various festival bookings this summer.
It's all a million miles from their childhood, rapping in youth centres in Forest Gate and Manor Park and their school life at Forest Gate Community School (Footsie) and Saint Bonaventure's, Forest Gate (D Double E).
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As for their real names, Footsie explains: "I want my name kept low a bit longer. Listen, we grew up in Newham, loads of people in Newham know us well and who and where we are."
So the Newham Generals are hanging on to their supposed anonymity for as long as possible. D Double E adds: "We lived two minutes from each other and were hanging out from the age of 13. Wherever there was a mic and deck, we were there, rapping, trying out things, or making mixtapes in our bedrooms."
But the time is coming when everybody will know their real names, like we know that Dizzee Rascal, the man who has signed the NGs to his Dirtee Skank label, is called Dylan Mills.
"Yeah, man, hopefully that time will come," admits Double. "We're in a really positive space at the moment. But that's down to years of hard work. We're not here for no reason."
Both 29, this pair are certainly no spring chickens in grime world terms. Dizzee was 19 when he won the Mercury Music Prize and MC Chipmunk, who we interviewed in the Recorder recently, is also just 19.
However, the fact that the Newham Generals were MCing at house, garage and drum and bass events at the age of 17 in the late '90s means they started out before grime had been born, and subsequently ensures their blend of grime is fused with all of those three pioneering genres.
And the results are certainly impressive, with Dizzee Rascal's producer/manager Cage and Footsie co-producing each track on the debut album, Generally Speaking. Debut single Head Get Mangled was out in March and second single, Pepper, will follow the album at some point.
Signed to Dirtee Stank back in 2005, when there was a third member, Monkster, the NGs soon became a duo and believe the fact it took four years to get the album out will work in their favour.
D Double E says: "We feel we've got so much more longevity because of the experience gained in that time. Out on the road we've performed to mad amounts of thousands. That's without all the individual events we've done over the years.
" We feel very assured and confident. We're really happy with the album, and already working on the next one.