Age… One of dance music’s final taboos.
Trust me, I’ve been interviewing artists for years (more than I’d care to admit to myself) and, unless they’re in their early 20s, many of them skirt around the topic. They might ask that it’s omitted from the final script. Some of them decide to ignore early parts of their discography or even pause half way through an anecdote and make sure they don’t show reference points beyond their apparent age.
Not DRS, though. He will happily tell you he’s 40 years old this year. No crisis necessary: he’s more than happy with the vantage point the years provide.
“I’m a grown man, man,” grins the man whose first album was actually called Grown Man Biznizz in 2010. “A grown man’s way of looking at things is so much better than an 18 year old thinking they have a grown man’s way of looking at things. You’ve got so much more experience, so much more to tell…”
And he’s got LOTS to tell.
He’s been spinning his distinctive Mancunian Machiavellian yarns since his early days touring the world with Bukem and the Goodlooking crew in the mid 90s. But his crisp, clear narratives really hit the wider consciousness beyond the standard MC boundaries on 2012’s I Don’t Usually Like MC’s But… A broad sword sonic document it proved to the world that – in DRS’s own words – MCs don’t have to be that guy shouting in clubs.
In the time between his own personal works he’s proceeding to pop up on stacks of equally awesome albums: Tokyo Prose’s Presence, Nu:Logic’s What I’ve Always Waited For, S.P.Y’s Back To Basics, Proxima’s Alpha, Drumsound & Bassline Smith’s Wall Of Sound, Enei’s Machines, Calibre’s Shelflife 3, Addison Groove’s James Grieve, Lenzman’s Looking At The Stars…
“After the last album I took on the hip-hop model and guested on my favourite producer’s albums,” he confirms. “You look at your favourite rappers and they guest on records and do mixtapes and keep the buzz going between the big releases.”
Buzz officially maintained: the world is ready and waiting for his next opus, DRS – Mid Mic Crisis. With beats from the very best in the game – Lynx, Calibre, Dub Phizix, DJ Die, Marcus Intalex, Jubei, LSB and more – it’s yet another step away from the any MC clichés. His hip-hop parallel is apt; DRS’s ability as a DJ’s hype man is the first rung on his lyrical ladder. This man flows with a universal clarity that’s as strong as his honesty.
As far as drum & bass MCs go, he’s in a league of his own. Here’s a whole bunch of reasons why DRS and his album Mid Mic Crisis are in need of your ear investment…
He’s breaking stereotypes…
“I wouldn’t say I’m unique, no. But it takes a certain kind of person to stand up and put their balls on the line. Whether you’re an MC or producer or whatever – it’s like standing there naked and saying ‘this is me’ and say something different takes a lot of courage. The guy you see in the rave isn’t me day to day. You could see an MC as a guy who just shouts a lot at raves, I could have stuck with that one public role but that’s not me… I wanted to step away from the stigma and stereotype of the MC. And, like in any line of work, putting yourself on the line and representing yourself fully with honesty takes a bit of bollocks.”
You can understand every word he says
“Thank you. It’s something I’ve worked on. For me, it’s about simplicity. When you make your first music you try and throw everything into it. It’s like producing a track and editing the break every four bars… It’s just too much. So I’ve learnt, as an MC and as a music fan in general, the people who stand out are the people who keep it simple and clear. It’s about not throwing everything into the pot all the time. Once you have the message, fine-tune the clarity. It wasn’t a conscious thing but I’m glad it’s worked out in the way it has.”
He’s brutally honest – with himself, with his kids, with us listeners
“Everything I write is honest. Always has been. But I think that more important at this stage of my life now than it ever has been. I don’t want my kids to ever hear anything they didn’t already know. People have these images of me; they think I’m balling, they see me in the club, they see a big black guy with his hood up, he might be smoking weed or whatever… They think I’m like that all the time.
What I am all the time is a dad. And I have to be positive role model for my kids. There’s no right or wrong way to be a parent but this is the way I’ve chosen to do it because of my lifestyle and occupation. I’m no angel but I wouldn’t want my kids to go into school and have their mates go ‘ah man your dad’s on this video saying this and doing that’… So I send them my music before anyone else. It’s not the most comfortable experience I’ve had; it’s like sending them my diary.”
Mid Mic Crisis is produced by some of the best beatmakers in D&B…
“The blessed thing about this is all these producers are my friends. Like Die, we’ve known each other for ages but not actually met. I went down to his house and made about seven tracks! Lynx and I have done stuff – press play on one of his tunes it’s like starting Goodfellas or some spy film. He’s already telling the story before you start. I hear it and I’m in a police chase.
Marcus Intalex is my brother and is the first person I’ve ever MC’d for. Calibre’s my brother. These are genuine friends who I travel the world with. When I said I was doing an album they all started sending me beats. No strategy – I knew the album in my head before it came together.”
His singing voice isn’t too shabby either…
“I know I’m not a good singer but what I can do, I hold down. I wouldn’t class myself as a singer anyway. But yeah there’s more of me signing on there because there are less featured vocalist. I had more vocalists on the last album to help support me. Mid Mic Crisis is more ‘me’. I hope that comes across. I’m starting to feel like an album artist now. Rather than a guy who shouts at people.”
If you want to catch him shouting at people in a club you might only have a few years left…
“I wouldn’t like to put a finite time on it but I’d say I’ve got a couple of years of MCing left. I want to do my albums and do proper live shows now. Obviously I’ll do a couple of things here and there but I don’t want to be that guy still shouting away in his mid 40s. It doesn’t matter how good you are, or how good you think you are, but MCing clubs for four hours straight isn’t an old man’s job. I’m already too old for that shit! I’m much happier being in the studio making music, recording stuff and spending time with my family and friends.”