Leading The Way: D-Block Europe

Photography: Sabb Adams / Styling: Nayaab Tania / Words: Tom Everest

There aren’t many people who turn out quite as many trailblazing tracks as D-Block Europe. Their roll call of records, including Trap House, The Shard, Kitchen Kings and Playing for Keeps have accumulated millions of views and streams. They’ve worked with everyone from Krept and Konan, Dave to Lil Baby, sold out tours around the world and had three top 10 mixtapes. At one point a quarter of the tracks in the UK singles chart – 25 out of 100 songs – were either by, or featured D-Block. 

DBE have forged ahead on the strength of their drive, determination and ingenuity. So much so, that they pretty much operate as a monopoly. Spearheading a new sound and leading a new legion. Dropping mixtapes without a prior murmur, selling out Alexandra Palace twice within ten minutes, and refining a new vocoder-heavy, real-life wavy rap sound which is delivered with an element of bravery and bravado that remains unique, unfiltered – untouchable.

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Naturally, there was an exhaustive list of topics that we wanted to talk to D-Block Europe about. We wanted to explore the duality of Young Adz and LB: take a deeper look into the flow and interplay between two long-term friends who intersperse styles and genres to create their own hybrid of hip-hop. We also wanted to identify the dynamic of their songs by digging deep into the mutating slick flows and explosive mania which surrounds the pair. The topic of conversation also planned to touch on more pertinent issues, talking about their mental strength; the fact that they’re having to deal with being pioneers. As well as touching on the leadership and the tutelage roles they adopt with the growing number of members of D-Block. The interview was ready for LB and Young Adz to share their story, their unique relationship, their life and personality on their own terms. It didn’t happen. 

On the day of the shoot, which started late and hurdled through multiple looks, we had no time to complete the interview. While, in the exhaustive months which followed, we couldn’t pin D-Block down for a phone interview nor a face-to-face. The duo remained as elusive as their lyrics remain explicit. However, on the day, we did learn that Adz would, if he could choose to have any Chelsea player in their next video, he’d opt for Kante ‘because he loves him on FIFA’ and the name on LB’s first Arsenal shirt was that of another son of South London, Ian Wright. ‘The one and only. The icon.’ We learned that Lil Wayne remains their ‘dream collaboration’ and LB’s most annoying habit is how much he smokes. ‘He smokes a lot. If you’re around him for 24 hours, you’re going to get high.’ Most interestingly, during our limited time together, we did get the chance to observe the dynamic between the two. 

Their chemistry is the result of years of friendship, shared life experiences and, of course, hours upon hours of experimentation in the studio together. It’s a special relationship to witness. There’s a relaxed candour between the two; symbiotic of the fact that they both remain so comfortable in each other’s company and on their own. They know who they are and they know what they want to do. Which means, they don’t have to talk that much. Just the odd mutual mannerisms which they execute in unison or a wry smile which is bridged by nervous laughter. The relationship that we witnessed represents their duality on a musical scale too. At their best, the flow and interplay between the two intersperses a range of styles and genres. It’s the special recipe which has gone into creating the explosive mania which surrounds the DBE sound. Or, UK rap wave, as they call it. However, much like their live shows, once stretched over 90 minutes, the beats become a little formulaic and their laughter subsides, as it appears as if they are just going through the motions. Adding to the feeling of being stuck in a revolving door. 

During our time together, the revolving door opened a little bit more, albeit a jar, to allow us to capture an incredibly short conversation with Adz and LB. Which, in consideration to everything they produce, is a nice way to keep the enigmatic aura around the duo alive. Or, as Adz says, all you have to do is ‘be brave, be yourself and always aim for more.’ It’s a simple rhetoric which says it all. Your actions teach you faster, and have a lasting impression, far beyond what you say. 

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Issue 02: Heart & Soul
Ada Hegerberg, Andre Gray, Maya Jama, Andreas Perreira, Christian Pulisic
GAFFER Issue 02: ‘Heart & Soul.’ Honouring the way football cultivates community spirit, empowers the next generation and gives fans, teams and players something bigger and more beautiful to believe in. Be prepared to meet the people who are driving the culture to new heights and those who are set to change the face of the game forever.
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