Ever since they broke out into the mainstream in 2005 with the brilliant The Avenue, I've been a major fan of Roll Deep. The 'crew', that has featured a number of rappers over the years, most notably Wiley, who has also had solo hits with Wearing My Rolex, Never Be Your Woman, Take That and Cash In My Pocket, have been together since 2002. The Avenue, which sampled, Heartache Avenue by The Maisonettes, was their first chart hit, sadly just missing out on the top ten back in summer 2005, debuting and peaking at #11. It was the first mainly rap song that I probably ever loved, I was never much a fan of the genre before it. I thought that the sample was genius and the verses were perfect. Had it been released in 2010 for the first time it would have been an easy #1 single, but the genre hadn't quite reached the masses by this point.
Other acts bubbling underground in the mid-noughties before really breaking out in the last couple of years have included N-Dubz, Tinie Tempah, Tinchy Stryder, Skepta, Devlin and many others. The sound is very much the 'in thing' and Roll Deep are partly to thank for this, as of course, is Dizzee Rascal who was a member of the collective before they hit the mainstream. The first British grime rapper to really break into the charts, Dizzee sold consistently and had memorable top 20 hits with the likes of Fix Up Look Sharp, Dream and Stand Up Tall, all well ahead of their time and incredibly influential songs. His breakthrough from star to superstar came with the 2008 #1 collaboration with Calvin Harris, Dance Wiv Me. Since then he's hit the UK #1 spot with Bonkers, Holiday, Dirtee Disco and Shout and also smashed with Dirtee Cash and You Got The Dirtee Love with Florence + The Machine. In fact with 5 #1's in less than two years, and almost everything he releases being assured of a place at the top of the charts, you wonder if he's the new Westlife?
Roll Deep scored their first UK #1 single a few months ago with the anthemic Good Times, an uplifting dance/rap hybrid that featured a pulsating trance backing not dissimilar to DJ Sammy's cover of Heaven and a brilliant chorus from emerging talent Jodie Connor. It spent three weeks at #1, the joint longest spell in the past 18 months. New single Green Light will hopefully repeat that feat as if it's at all possible, I love it even more than its predecessor!!! A fantastic bassline hook paves the way for more Wiley led rapping and another excellent female sung chrous, this time from Tania Foster, responsible for the great pop song Supawoman. Hopefully a summer anthem for them, the last thing that this great inspirational group need is to be a one hit wonder. Thank you Roll Deep, even if you didn't open up the eyes of the masses to British rap and grime, you've certainly opened me up to it.