His official biography claims he’s the filthiest rapper in the game, reveals he’s been a full time rap merchant since the days when you could buy a ten deck of B&H for £1.32 and tells us he really does eat, sleep and breathe rap. While there’s a tongue in cheek element behind it all that accompanies everything Dike has something to do with, you get the impression, from his debut solo album (Bogies and Alcohol), many features and his contributions to Contact Play, that it’s all true. What I love about him is how he doesn’t seem to care about repping anything but himself and his crews, and he’s not afraid to throw himself out there. He chats about raving, graffiti, beans and mischief with a brutal honesty and a healthy dose of humour, and even on tracks where he takes it a bit deeper there’s no pretentious element, he just writes about stuff that’s real to him with the aim of exploring himself and his surroundings while having plenty of jokes in between.
His second solo album, ‘Constant Dikestar’ just dropped on Fliptrix’s ‘High Focus’ imprint and certainly doesn’t disappoint. Delving into slightly more conscious themes then Bogies and Alcohol, you can see he’s matured a bit both as a person and a lyricist since then. Tracks like ‘Never Seen a Reason’ reflects on not only himself but also the people around him in a slightly surreal way, dropping bars such as ‘I was gonna read my palm but my eyes burst’, while ‘Little Mr. Grin and Bare’ and ‘Yeah I Act Like a Freak’ delve further into his past and personality in a way that really opens himself up on the record.
The intro track and it’s follow up ‘Hi I’m James’ take it back to the jokey attitude of Contact Play’s ‘Champion Fraff’ album and ‘Bogies and Alcohol’ which balances it all out nicely and ensures it retains that Dike swagger and honesty, which is also shown on ‘What D’you Expect’ with Mr Key, Baxter and Ronnie Bosh who, along with Skuff, Stig, Slang Immaculate, Ed Scissor Tongue, Fliptrix and The Three Amigos, bring a healthy amount of guest bars to keep it all interesting.
The beats are tight, bassy and original, the lyrics are well delivered and show enough diversity to really make this a complete album that flows nicely. I think he’s done well to make an album that really shows his growth and progression while not forcing it too much and managing to stay true to his roots in places.
I caught up with him off the back of it all to get a bit of a deeper insight into how it all came together.
Easy James, big up on the new album! Let’s get a bit of an insight into yourself first, where did you grow up, what you into other then music and is there anything else you feel we should know?
Err…i grew up in a council house in cambridge with my mum after my old chap went to prison, been in cambridge most my life actually. I did a little stint in the sticks in this mad little village for a while too though. i think my mum thought it best to remove me from the distractions of the city as i kept getting nicked for stealing and graffiti.
As a kid my interests just got more and more unhealthy. you know the standard, skating and doing graff at 12, running about nicking shit and whatever, to smoking bare draw and mixing jungle records. Now I’m a rapper!
Just like that first day in school, tell us one interesting fact or story about you.
I wet the bed till i was 10!
What three albums couldn’t you live without?
The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. The Very Best of the 80’s (Tesco compilation) and I’m too scared to commit to the last choice…sorry.
How long you been into Hip Hop, when did you start spitting, and what’s your general story through music?
I’ve been into Hip Hop since i stopped wetting the bed! This kid on the way home from school called Vishel Patel had the “Onyx Bacdafucup” album and at the age of 10, i was terrified. I thought it was all true! I guess the energy and ruthlessness of them was inspiring, plus i was quite into weapons and shit as a kid. After that i was wearing massive House of Pain and Snoop Dog t shirts and doing anything I could to get the next mental rap tape. I started getting HHC and putting the posters on my wall and bumping Onyx “Slam” whilst waving a bb gun in the air. All the kids at my primary school were on it, everyone was into american gangster rap by the age of 10 and I don’t really know how it happened. When i hit like 13/14 i felt no place in hip hop after discovering a happy hardcore tape on the front of this magazine i saw with some titties in it. It was in the shop i did my paper round for and i figured if i buy a music mag i can look at these tits without being suspected. Anyway, in those old hardcore tunes they always had these amen drum breaks in and my mate told me there was a whole genre of music like that little bit called JUNGLE!
I became a DJ under the name “Dj Terrah” by 16 and started hitting the gurners at Life 4 Land raves in fields for years.
It wasn’t until I became friends with Mr. Key at around the same time, who shared my love for the 90’s gangster rap, that i got back into it. He showed me Taskforce on a shitty little walkman at 9am outside a warehouse, and i was like ‘YO!!????’ Then he showed me his stuff….it really opened my eyes to what i had been missing right under my jungle gurn face nose. I ended up in prison with that very cassette that he played me and inspiration and boredom took charge. DIRTY DIKE WAS BORN!
Why the name Dirty Dike?
You’re from Cambridge, what’s the scene like there and how do you think it’s influenced your music?
It go’s in waves. Right now I’m not feeling it so much, but that’s personal.
Great inspirations have come from this city but none so much for me as Mr.Key, Delegates of Culture and Life 4 Land. They were doing good shit when I was young and I was just lucky to have been part of that movement. I’m not sure what cambridge is saying now, i think I’ve rinsed it for all its worth.
How do you feel about the UK Hip Hop scene right now and who else do you rate?
I think right now things are popping off again you know. I felt a little dry spot 3 years ago but I see more heads getting interested now.
London Zoo really gave me faith in UK Hip Hop recently, really rate that crew this year man, they got a sense of humour I think you don’t always get in Hip Hop but everyone needs.
I’m really feeling a lot of the beats popping up from the UK too you know, yeah…i like the scene right now.
As part of SMB and Contact Play, can you explain a bit about those two crews? Who else is in them and how did they form?
HAAA MAAAAAATE thats a loooong question. Hahaha.
SMB is like a huge, loosely connected bunch of us. It started in like 1996 or some shit. It was mixtape thing at j.raps school i think. You know, “Smoke My Beef Vol. 1” on a tape by your DJ mate and shit. Then what with the culture, kids started writing it up and it became a crew. Not even a crew…just a thing.
Contact play was Baxter and Bosh’s crew with a couple other heads who weren’t so keen. When me, Key and Scissor Tongue met Baxter and Bosh it just made sense. We were like the ones all doing the same shit so Contact Play just became us five. I always think SMB is like a big cambridge family thing, theres like two hundred mans in that fucker man. Hahaha producers, DJ’s, writers, rappers, wankers, graphic designers, promoters. It’s large.
As a solo artist, you’re signed to Fliptrix’s High Focus recordings, how did that come about?
I known old flipper for years now. I met him in brighton a year or two after i met Baxter, he was at uni learning to do what he’s doing for us all right now. I got a lot of love for that guy man, he’s really pushing things not just for my crew, but for the whole scene. After hearing us but seeing what casualties we were back then, it was obvious we needed help from Fliptrix i think, so it only made sense to give Baxters solo project the exposure it needed. After i saw that pop off, and with Fliptrix offering me the sickest deal on my next solo project over a weekend of gigs and vapour, I thought ‘FUCK YEAH’. My old label were really safe about it and let me grow, which I got a lot of respect for too.
Your music seems really honest and makes no attempt to rep the whole american ‘bling’ attitude, was this something you had in mind for it, or did you just sit down, pen rhymes and this is the kinda stuff that came out?
Nah I just wrote man. And I’m not american….and aint much spare cash for bling in UK rap hahaha. Don’t get me wrong, if you give me a shit load of bling its getting worn, but I just wouldn’t buy the shit. As for honesty, the only reasons I write is to tear myself apart with self analyzation or to take the complete piss and have a laugh.
Without trying to be bate about your involvement with such a heinous crime, how do you think writing graff’s influenced you as a person and musically?
It’s made me paranoid.
You just dropped your new album, ‘Constant Dikestar’, who did the beats and cuts on that, and what other mc’s are on it? Any stand out tracks for you?
The whole thing is produced by Mr.Constant. He’s a producer from cambridge. He aint really done shit with no one else, not released anyway. He’s an old school head man, I rate his shit coz I could tell he likes the same rap i like, that 90’s thumping ignorant boom slap shit. Plus he’s a nice guy as well.
Errr my favorite track is “What D’you Expect” coz its got all my gang on it and its funny.
How do you feel ‘Constant Dikestar’ is a progression from your debut album, ‘Bogies and Alcohol’, and what did you want to achieve when you started recording it?
I think its matured, both topically and in my delivery too. Shit’s changed, I’ve cut certain people out my life, moved citys a few times since then. Mate I wrote a lot of my first album in jail at 20 years old man, its a different me. My life couldn’t be more different now from what it was then.
Although ‘Bogies and Alcohol’ was often on a pretty fun vibe with bars about raves, beer and bogies, and so is ‘Constant Dikestar’ to an extent, tracks like ‘The Agitated’ go into deeper aspects of your life. Was it a conscious decision to take stuff a bit deeper on this one? Do you ever worry about opening up the deeper side of things to the world on a cd and was that something that was hard for you initially?
Hahahahaha i was killing time at college. I was doing fine art and found the whole thing a bit shit and thought I’d rather blaze with rappers and then hide in the music block recording. Like I said I’d been writing for fourteen months in jail and had a lot on my mind I guess as well. Really i just wanted to learn myself and get pussy.
Yeah I do think about that sometimes but fuck it man, be honest and have a laugh. It’s better for me than completely bottling it up. But the albums are never and I hope will never be pre meditated like that, I want them to me an honest refection of who I was when I wrote them, so I just kinda pick the best tunes from the last 2 years or whatever and that seems to be pretty accurate.
What’s planned in the future for Dirty Dike?
Stay out of jail, keep rapping and make a shit load of beats.
Where can we catch you on the mic over the next few months?
Err I’m off to france to do the “Get Mashed or Die Trying Tour” for ten days from the 20th april with the rest of CP and Ghost Town, Sasqutch, Ben 9mm, and Mariah from Baxters album.
Over the summer I’m doing Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party, Boomtown Fair, Aeon, NASS fest, and probably some more too. Basically I’m about INNIT!!
Safe for the time James, any last words or shouts?
Noise for MY 4 CP GOONS, FLIPTRIX, LDZ, 3 AMIGOS, NIAVE, STIG, DELUXE BULLET, VERB T, DELEGATES OF CULTURE, J MAN, PETE CANNON, SIKA STUDIOS, SAMMY B SIDE, DJ MANIPULATE, MR. BOSS, LIFE 4 LAND, SUSPECT PACKAGES, yea yea yeah.