Dot Rotten wrote his first bars aged seven, started taking music seriously aged 13 and by 15 had already recorded his first grime mixtape. “My uncle had a studio in his bedroom,” says the 23-year-old man known to his mum as Joseph Ellis. Now sitting on a bright pink sofa in the offices of his plush new major label – the undeniably affluent Mercury – he muses that he simply “grafted and got better”.
Following spots in south London crews the Essentials and OGz, where he was known as Young Dot, he returned to producing and writing under his current name in 2009. “It stands for many things,” he says, clarifying that it’s not a nod to EastEnders’ badass Dot Cotton. “Originally it was ‘Dirty – or Descriptive – On Tracks’ and ‘Righteous Opinions Told To Educate Nations’. But if I could change my name now I would! It gives you a new identity.”
Rotten talks a lot about identity. Even though big, crunching tracks on his most recent EP, like ‘Earthquake’ (“They can’t measure me now, I’m off the Richter scale”) and the ballsy ‘Signature Sound’ (“I’ll hold your fanbase captive!”), were recorded years ago, he says he’s less reckless now than the days when he was the toast of Rinse FM and SB.TV. There will be fewer controversies too, even if he has no regrets concerning his notorious battle track ‘It’s Over (Ft Wiley’s Mum)’. “It’s not as raw or as ‘fuck it’, but more intellect might come out,” he says of his subtly changing sound. “I’ve played Ghetts songs and he’s gone, ‘I like the other Dot!’ but it’s not about forgetting who you are – it’s just wanting to better what you have done.”
Of his album, ‘Voices In My Head’ (due out next year), he says simply that “it’s less grimey” than people might expect. “It’s very emotional. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs recently.” What would make Dot Rotten happy in a year’s time then? “Everything that is new to a fan is new to me,” he says, explaining that he wants to be seen as something more than just the next Tinchy, Tinie or Dizzee.
Need To Know:
Based: Brixton, London
For Fans Of: Wiley, Giggs
See Him Live: Dot supports Chase and Status throughout October
On NME Extra: Exclusive stream of new track ‘Laughing’.
Buy It Now: The ‘Above The Waves’ EP is available from itsdotrotten.com
Believe It Or not: Dot knows his internet conspiracy theories. “I was looking at a subject called Hollow Earth. It says the core of the earth isn’t as hot as it’s meant to be”
This article originally appeared in the October 22nd issue of NME