mess with newham generals, you get left in newham general
D Double E and Footsie are the most perfect pairing in grime.
Novelist, Footsie and D Double E.
A part of the scene before it even existed, D Double E and Footsie's legendary status in grime is undisputed. Alongside original member Monkster - who swapped music for the Messiah a few years ago - the Newham Generals helped introduce the sights and sounds of East London to a worldwide audience. Known for their Cockney accented sharp sense of humor, ricocheting rhymes and supreme shelling of the mic, Footsie and D Double E discuss being fired from Sainsbury's, loving their nans, and why each other is their favorite MC.
What were you doing 10 years ago?
Double: The same shit. pretty much. Murking.
Can you remember the first bar you both wrote?
Footsie: It was a bashment lyric, but I can't remember it. My name was Danny Culture back then cos my aunt used to call me Culture.
Double: I can't remember the first bar that I wrote but I know that it was deeeeeper [laughs].
Why is grime so hot right now?
Footsie: There's less pressure to go and do a house tune and get radio play - you can actually do yourself. You still gotta do a good song, mind you, you can't just go over blind. Before though, you had to tick the boxes to be big - say, radio play - but I think that's moved out of the way. They're [radio] being forced to play what's cool, what's cool now. I think that's helped the scene because it means that I can make a song today about my life. If you're clever about it, there's an opportunity for it. Whereas before there was no opportunity for those songs. They've existed in Grime forever tracks like that, but now they're being allowed to come through.
Double: This generation is more song aware I think. We was more about the rave. And good songs popped up within that. This generation is more aware of full songs not just reloads. Which is what our genre needs; to stand up as one.
What makes British music so brilliant?
Footsie: It's the attitude I think, that "who gives a fuck", which works within our music. You can't get that anywhere else in the world, no one says "fuck off" as much as English people. And it comes out in our music; it's very much, chuck it out there. That's why we're liked around the world, because it's something you can only get from an English person.
What needs to happen next for the scene to sustain itself?
Footsie: More songs. Kids are making music with a more open mind. Before, seeing all the house tunes, you might have been thinking, "What's going down? What am I gonna do, I don't like house tunes." It was the same for us, which is why you never really saw a house tune with us on it cause this [grime] is what we like. Sticking at it has worked for us. But I don't know what an up and coming MC would've felt like a while ago cause there was no window for it. I think grafting through that period is what has made this vicious outburst of songs.
Who's your favorite MC?
Footsie: Double. Early days, anything he said, it was a reload. That taught me a lot about being onstage; a big part of being on stage is you need to say stuff that people care about, otherwise you're gonna be stood there like an idiot. He's still getting reloads, he's the best, man.
Double: Footsie. When you know a man's catalogue like that, you've got to be a fan. I don't know no one like I know Footsie. So Footsie's the deepest.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Footsie: Like my dad. He had a sound [system] and a studio. I was going to studio with him since I was a kid. You'd have ten minutes playing pool and then for the other seven hours you're just sitting there, listening to the same tune... "Don't you get bored, Dad?" But yeah, I definitely wanted to be like my dad, have a sound, smoke hella weed [laughs].
Double: I wanted to be like my dad as well. My dad was a pimp-looking guy, with like 16 chains and mad leather suits, a v-neck leather top, leather pants, the whole lot. He had the box cut as well, his hair was like mine. And I've got 18 brothers and sisters. My dad got about. I don't know every one of them, but I know the majority. I wanted to look like my dad though, I didn't want to be like him. I wanted to be a musician.
How did you meet?
Footsie: I knew Double from school days, he lived round the corner. But again, Double was getting reloads from the smallest house rave on jungle, Double was still duppying back then. He was the Forest Gate leg, from back then on our little circuit. I've known him from school days, in his blazer. Dubs ain't changed much. One of my funniest memories of Dubs is this time when we hadn't seen each other for a couple of years. I was on stage in Romford and out of nowhere, Double comes up, Kangol tilted sideways, chain on, he looked sick. These are the garage days, before grime. I gave him the mic, he said one thing, and it went off. It's always been the same. This guy is so deep.
What were you like at school?
Double: I was a bit of troublemaker, class clown, a wind up guy.
Footsie: I was a joker. I was the people's person. I got on with everyone still.
When was your first kiss and who was it with?
Footsie: I can remember her name, stiiiiill.
Double: There's an unofficial and then there's an official. Mine's not good, she's definitely a cokey now.
Footise: The real cokey on the block. She tried it with me, too
Double: They come in a team bro [both laugh].
What was your first job?
Double: I worked with my uncle. Electrician's mate. And he bumped me. Well, he probably didn't bump me, I probably bumped myself.
Footsie: Football. I had a two year YTS with Charlton.
Double: To tell the truth, my first actual, on-paper job, when I left school, I worked in Sainsbury's. I don't really like talking about it... I done a move [laughs]. Not even joking, I done a move. I took some P's from the till. Probably about £500, but over a period of time. One day I got into work and I clocked in and they told me to come off the till. And then they showed me myself doing the move. So then for about two weeks I was bloody pretending to my mum that I was going to work, and I wasn't even going to work. I'd be in my uniform and walking down the road, off to work. That was when I was 16. From then I had to go back to the roads again.
What's the hardest part about growing up?
Footsie: Accepting it.
What advice would you give to kids growing up?
Double: Go to work. And be legit.
Footsie: Use your time well. That's the most important thing. Because you get told as a kid, "You're young", then all of a sudden you're old. I don't know what happens in the middle, but just be aware that you're gonna get old and utilise your time right. I think some people miss it. I think some people think they're having fun and they're young, and then they're old and it's all blurred.
What's on your bucket list?
Double: Too many things man. I'm just wanna live my life to the fullest, until I die. I wanna be 99 still looking like 65, you get me.
Footsie: Still getting reloads [both laugh].
Who do you look up to in life?
Footsie: My nan, she's a very powerful woman, and my dad. Outside of family, the people around me, they're inspirational. Double, [Dirtee Stank's], Rafe, Cage, Dizzee, Cas[isdead]. I draw my energies from the people around me. As a kid I looked up to Dr Dre. I respected his craft as a producer/rapper. He is the pinnacle of what you can be as a producer/rapper. You can't get bigger than Dr Dre for me.
Double: I like movements, the way people move. Things people do that make a difference. You didn't see it but then they've done it then you catch it.
Have you got any growing up left to do?
Footsie: Always, always. I'm the biggest kid ever. I found the Lego movie wicked.
Double: Definitely. I'm definitely still a kid, man. I'm mad smart but in terms of sending emails and files... it's not me, G, that's where man is still a kid. I can't work it out.
Do you have any regrets?
Footsie. Do you know what? Hindsight is a bastard. I regret learning about hindsight; if I didn't learn about hindsight I'd be alright. Cause you wouldn't understand the power of a situation that's past. Ignorance is bliss. But I try not to do regrets. I'm like a "Fuck it, it's gone" kinda person. But you do have to assess yourself and know where to tighten up.
Footsie: ...a limit. If you let it limit you, it can. If you see the young whippers doing it you think "Oh shit, they've got it, it's gone", and you let go too early. Your thing could still be near; you just gotta keep digging.
Text Hattie Collins
Photography Olivia Rose
Styling Jack Borkett
Photography assistance Rowan Hall, Menelik Simpson
Fashion assistance Caio Reis
Novelist wears all clothing model's own. D Double E wears all clothing Nike. Footsie wears all clothing model's own.