Devlin: ‘It took 20 years for grime to be accepted’

Dagenham rapper recently returned with his third album 'The Devil In'.

Devlin has shared his views on the rise of grime as he returns with his first album in four years.

The Dagenham rapper dropped third album ‘The Devil In’ earlier this month and saw it become his highest-charting yet.

Asked about the grime revival spurred on by artists like Stormzy, he told NME: “I don’t just put that down to the youngsters making it relevant again this year. It’s been ever since So Solid Crew. People have pushed and every single person has played their part in pushing this thing and giving platforms to the next people coming through. It’s a joint effort but the fact it has come back around is obviously helped by these younger MCs coming through.”

“Grime has been accepted now, but it’s took the best part of 20 years probably, from scratch. ‘Bout time.”

He also hailed Wiley for winning the Outstanding Contribution To Music prize at this month’s NME Awards. “He’s a legend in my brain and he always will be,” Devlin said. “Wiley and his pals, we owe them a lot because they built us up, so Wiley deserves that.”

Read the full Q&A with Devlin below.

Does it feel good to be dropping your new album at a time when grime is having such a moment?
“I was coming back regardless, but obviously that’s a positive thing and I respect the younger generation – they’ve gone and made grime relevant again. [But] it’s different to the grime I grew up with and the grime I loved, do you know what I mean? But they’ve made everything relevant again and there’s some big people – like Skepta, Wiley, Kano and me – who’ve all come back around again. It’s lovely to see all them people back alongside the younger generation.”

Wiley recently received NME’s Outstanding Contribution To Music Award. Why do you think he deserves it?
“He’s a legend in my brain and he always will be. He contributed so much and every year he really comes through the door to look back to them boys. Wiley and his pals, we owe them a lot because they built us up, so Wiley deserves that. On the flip side, I don’t need no award to know what I’m doing.”

Why do you think grime is so huge right now?
“I don’t just put that down to the youngsters making it relevant again this year. It’s been ever since So Solid Crew. People have pushed and every single person has played their part in pushing this thing and giving platforms to the next people coming through. It’s a joint effort but the fact it has come back around is obviously helped by these younger MCs coming through… Grime has been accepted now, but it’s took the best part of 20 years probably, from scratch. ‘Bout time.”

And now the big US artists are really embracing grime too.
“It’s nice being shown love, when you see Skepta with Drake and people like that, because that only endorses our scene. Obviously they’re a different genre of music, but they’re much bigger than we are, so it helps us get seen in the public eye more. So really, that’s a blessing and I’m thankful for that… Maybe they like our rawer sound? Maybe they like our hardcore sound, like we used to like the hardcore New York sound?”

When US rappers get really big, they can spend a lot of time doing features on pop and R&B tracks.
“They’re millionaires, what do they care? You know what I mean? You know what, with Nicki Minaj, I’ve never really heard her on rap music but I’ve heard she can rap, if that makes any sense? She can actually put bars together [which] not many people really can. But I’ve not really heard her on a rap rap tune, you know what I mean? I don’t know what to call this genre of music now – it’s like hip-pop almost.”

What are you listening to at the moment?
“I grew up on the lyrics and the lyricism is quite sparse nowadays. I like the old rappers like Wu-Tang Clan and Eminem, and I like listening to Oasis and Nirvana too.”

The Devil In by Devlin is out now. He’ll perform headline shows at Oslo in London on 7-8 March.