Fanatic Energy: Flowdan's Favourite Records
, August 3rd, 2016 06:34
Following the release of the grime MC's new album, Disaster Piece, he talks Mollie Zhang through 13 records, from N.W.A to Lexxus, stopping by Shy FX, DJ Krust and Vanilla Ice, that he blames for getting him into music
Photograph courtesy of Hana Makovcova
I meet Flowdan at the Tate Modern. He hasn't been back here since Roll Deep were invited to take part in the Tate Tracks project in 2007 – before the release of Original Dan and before he joined Killa P on The Bug's heavyweight classic 'Skeng'. And though he's had no small number of guest appearances in the past decade, elsewhere on The Bug's London Zoo and Kevin Martin's follow-up, Angels & Devils, to Kahn's 'Badman City', it could seem that he's been overshadowed by other members of Roll Deep. With newest release Disaster Piece, Flowdan hopes to remind grime enthusiasts of his import and make his definitive imprint on the genre.
In his choices for his Baker's Dozen, Flowdan takes goes back to his teenage years to chart his introduction to music. He's chosen to talk about the 13 tracks he "blames" for his career in music, instead of picking a list of all-time favourites or biggest influences. We go back, variously, to his school days, his first record purchase and his very first performance. What about the absence of Det, Stevie Hyper D and some of his other favourite MCs? He didn't "have space and time to talk about everything", he says: "That could be a totally different list, but it'd be the same conversation."
A quiet talker, Flowdan's speech is low and deliberate, the familiar qualities of his weighty contributions to 'Skeng' and 'Fat Mac', though he chuckles when I bring up MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice, before unabashedly describing his enthusiasm for them, and recounts hearing Shy FX and DJ Krust tracks for the first time with some of the zealousness that only a teenager discovering drum & bass can have.
What he comes round to, though, is the importance of not being limited by a label: "It's a shame that people forget that grime is only here because of everything else. If you start only doing grime influenced by grime, you're going to funnel yourself into a thin pool of elements."
"Hopefully people can understand, or my album can set an example that you can have grime with a hook, and you can have grime with a singer. There's so much to music, it doesn't have to be exactly what you picture. I'll leave it to the people, because some people still say it's not a full grime album, which isn't important to me anyway – it's just weird that, because you hear a melody or a different bpm, that it's not grime anymore. That's not how hip-hop works and that's not how reggae works. That's not how any of the other musics work."
Disaster Piece is out now on Tru Thoughts. Flowdan plays the Boomtown, August 11-14 in Hampshire, and Outlook, August 31-September 4 in Fort Punta Christo, Croatia, festivals later this summer. Click on his image below to begin scrolling through Flowdan's choices, which run in no particular order