...this album trys to have something for everyone.
Ruth Jamieson 2005
Roll Deep were Dizzee Rascal's original crew, and musos and critics seem desperate to love them. One Dizzee isn't enough, it seems, and everyone is searching for an heir to his crown. It's got to be someone (or someones, in this case 13 MCs and DJs) with the same mouth-watering blend of kickass talent and hard luck story.
You can take it as read that Roll Deep have both. Record sales, live dates and pirate radio play attest the former, an East London postcode and a dream of 'getting out' will do for the latter.
And therein lies the problem for grime. For some members of the listening public its become a kind of bit of aural rough; a way for the public to titillate themselves through an association with undesirable Bow-dwelling types.
So when Roll Deep release an album the question asked becomes not 'is it any good?' but, 'have they sold out?' i.e. have they compromised their poor urban roots by attempting to broaden their appeal? God forbid they should sell any records.
It's true,this album trys to have something for everyone. It has several poppier numbers, like the brilliant essay on teen heartbreak that is "The Avenue" and the oh-so-silly samba, "Shake A Leg", there's even ahandul of r'n'b tinged fillers for the ladies.
But there's plenty for the stickler here too. 'When I'm Ere', 'Heat Up' and 'Poltergeist' feature all the disorientating, grimey young macho energy that first seduced many to the genre. Their war cries, subterranean bass, playstation beeps, simmering violence and fast-spat threats redeem any perceived infidelities to r'n'b and pop.