Not many artists release their debut album well over a decade into their career but then again, there aren’t many artists like D Double E. One of grime’s longest-serving MCs D Double has been doing this thing since day one, a founding member of NASTY Crew alongside Kano, Jammer and the recently departed Stormin and one half of Newham Generals, he’s an icon and an integral part of how grime sounds today. For most of his time in the scene however he’s been underground, overlooked as the likes of Skepta, Kano and Wiley have risen to headline status. With the release of his first studio album Jackuum! though, all that’s about to change.
Earlier this month he dropped the video for the Skepta-featuring ‘Nang’.The second single of his upcoming album it’s a hard-hitting taste of whats to come, seeing D Double E and Skepta trading lightening fast bars punctuated by plenty of the Bluku Music main man’s trademark adlibs. The video is a classic throwback to D Double E’s underground roots, set in a warehouse rave and shot in a grainy film. Photographer James ‘Black Star’ John, a long time friend of D Double E and a staple in the scene himself, was on set all day to capture the behind the scenes antics and take us on set.
James: “My name’s James ‘Blakstar’ John, also known as “Double Jay” to D Double E and people who have known me for a very long time. I’m a filmmaker and creative director and recently moving a lot more into creative management. I’ve been good friends with D Double E for about fifteen years and always been there if there’s anything I can help with, but we’ve only been working professionally together for about eighteen months. In the past fifteen years we’ve had great times together and I’ve captured a lot of great moments. From grainy Mini DV videotapes to pixelated Nokia phone video clips to sharp 4K Ultra HD videos.”
“I came down to the ‘Nang’ set to document some behind the scenes video. I usually bring a photographer with me who I mentor to do BTS photos, he wasn’t available to make it down to the set, and I had my 35mm film camera with me that I use to take photos just for personal art, to print out and put on my studio wall and celebrate life, celebrate achievements and progressions of myself and my friends.
“The photos were just captured raw and non-posed, non-asked; just snapped away and moments where the energy fell right for me for something to capture. It was a great day on set, Dee and Skepta absolutely smashed this track anyway, and that energy all transferred across to the video shoot and the film crew worked off that well while directing. The cypher circle scene was something you had to witness in real life to feel, everyone vibes out to the track over and over a good few times and it got hype. Everyone here I guess knows D Double E is a stage show don and rocks raves, but even in my fifteen years of knowing Dee, I never knew he would light up a video shoot with his bars and send the crowd crazy.”
Take a look at the BTS snaps below.
James: This is my favourite of the photos. D Double E in the shadow while he takes a phone call away from the crowd while the crowd still carries on the hype that he built up.
James: Skepta. This is my joint favourite photo. Skepta with his hood up in the shadows. It’s a strong image and Skepta for me is all about Presence, Power and Greatness Only.
K2 (Friend of D Double E and fellow East London grime artist) taking in the vibe.
James: Always great to see an enthusiastic film crew grabbing that energy on set. I remember the focus puller and camera operator working in sync like they were dancing.
James: Grime is serious music but anyone who knows D Double E knows he has the wickedest skanks and is a very funny person without even trying. This photo for me captures the fun side of Dee and helps remind us that as much as grime is serious music, we still got to have fun with it.
James: I love the scene and the film crew really made the details come alive on this.