D Double E: Jackuum

Until recently, D Double E had been the Socrates of grime. We know him through his mixtapes, features, and one-off singles and his influence on rappers like Dizzee Rascal (who credits him as an influence to start rapping) and Skepta (who refers to him as the greatest of all time) but D Double E had never released a solo album. So at 38 years old and 20-something years in the game, Jackuum is his debut album.

D Double E already has a legion of catchy phrases known to grimeheads including “oh my gawd,” “bluku bluku,” and his signature “badi-bap-bap” but turning that into an entire album. Starting with the opening skit “Jackuum FM Intro,” you realize the album may not live up to the hype. The skit is cheesily D Double E pretending to be a pirate radio host interviewing D Double E. He says as the radio host “I can’t believe I’m meeting you because I’m a fan of you and stuff” followed by a quick moment of sobriety saying “this is ridiculous” before carrying out the skit an addition half a minute.

If you think “maybe D Double E just isn’t good at skits,” “Bark It” quickly shows that it’s not just skits. His rapping ferocity is there but the chorus sees him rhyme “bark it, bark it” with “make you shit your pants and fart it fart it.” Surely a skilled emcee should be able to find a way around poop jokes even if it means using a dreaded rhyme dictionary.

But like D Double E throughout his career, the album has great singles and features. Skepta outraps him on “Nang” proving that the student has truly become the teacher while Wiley just breaks up D Double E from sounding monotonous on “Better than the Rest.” Relative newcomer, AJ Tracey shows he is the next wave on “Natural Organic.” The feature is a new example of how instrumental D Double has been bringing up new emcees and exposing them to a wide audience. It is truly one of his best qualities.

For the tracks without a feature, the standout comes late in the album, “Live Tonight.” It is a bit of an albatross on the album; the beat sounds lifted from an 80s synth-rock ballad so it gives D Double E a melancholic sound. As he raps “free drinks all night/go to the bar a lot,” it sounds like a concession that fame is not what it’s cracked up to be rather than a brag. It shows a different side of the emcee and how versatile he can be.

The versatility ends up being key to the album. Across different beats and styles, D Double E is able to react and morph his flows. That might be his greatest skill, since we see his lyrics underwhelm on the album at times. With any album that is 20 songs, you are bound to get some duds but it is a promising debut from the 38-year-old.

Rating: 7.3/10

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