Leaving behind the material ramblings of an archetypal MC, listening to Devlin, you’re more likely to hear tales of conspiracy theories, politics and Pavarotti. A lover of Bob Marley, The Supremes and Bruce Springsteen, Devlin isn’t your average grime artist. The enigmatic, Dagenham born Devlin set the bar for a new generation of Grime music in 2006 with his underground classic, Tales from the Crypt.
In The Beginning
Devlin’s first CD was It Was Written by Nas, and he began listening to garage music at a young age, which developed in to a love for Grime similarly to many of his music-loving counterparts. East London Grime groups such as Outakers and Nasty Crew and the MC’s within those groups such as Kano, Sharkey Major and D Double E were so original they inspired Devlin not to imitate, but to mastermind his own presence in the music scene.
Devlin joined Dagenham grime entourage Outakers (or O.T) in 2004, when he was just 15. His crew-mates included Dagenham-MC Dogzilla and the manager of OT Recordings, Michael Carnegie who were both instrumental in his introduction into the grime scene. Devlin’s first ventures onto pirate radio at Flava FM and began to establish him amongst musical peers from East London and further afield.
The most significant episode during this time was the release of Tales from The Crypt; a dark, intelligent first mixtape allowing Devlin to shoot gritty lyrics over 19 tracks, pouring over his thoughts and encapsulating teen angst at it’s darkest ebb; drugs, sex and violence, a catalogue of Devlin’s spare thoughts reads like a comic thriller; jumping from Friday hype on Firein, Dealers and Tales from the Crypt to a contemplative Sunday over Community Outcast, High Rise and Take Me Away.
The mix of personal introvert and musical extrovert makes Devlin’s music a hotchpotch of passion, vigour, sincerity and intelligence. Admiration for his innovative and overt use of language and lyric began to establish Devlin as a new-age poet; his online following grew, as did an influx of overseas followers.
The Next Chapter
Devlin’s new found hiatus in the music scene led to the rekindling of his friendship with Plaistow MC Ghetts who had formed an allegiance with a number of the most influential MC’s in Grime and asked Devlin to be a part of it. It was called The Movement, and as well as Devlin and Ghetts, it featured MC’s Scorcher and Wretch 32. A mixtape was released entitled Tempo Specialists and a memorable edition of F*ck Radio was recorded before the enterprise came to a natural demise a year or so later.
Prior to his subsequent mixtape release, The DEVZ EP was a four track special, given away complimentary to fans who had been requesting tracks such as Nothing New, Super Trigger, Dumplin and From the Bottom to the Top; the four tracks were on heavy radio rotation, across the UK on stations such as Rinse, BBC Radio 1Xtra and Kiss FM.
Devlin released The Art of Rolling in 2008, the 14 track strong mixtape included tracks Why, Paid my Dues and Shot Gritty. Hungry fans were given a dose of Devlin’s vigorous flow and punching lyrics whilst he continued to work on his album behind the scenes. The release prompted a sell out signing and performance at Soho’s Uptown Records in London.
Furthermore in 2008 Devlin enjoyed a window of fame after Kanye West posted a video of him MCing on his Blog, labelled ‘Gangster Rap’, a freestyle video featuring Dogzilla which was posted on Youtube in 2006.
Devlin was on our screens more than ever in 2009, after signing with independent music label 360 Records and EGA Music Management. Head of Music Colin Batsa took over as his manager released 3 videos in as many months; London City, Community Outcast 2009 and Giant, have totted up over 2 million Youtube views combined, to date. London City remained at number one of the Channel AKA music charts, unmoved, for 10 weeks.
In December 2009 Devlin was named on the BBC’s Sound of 2010 Longlist, cited as ‘one of the hottest names on the underground grime scene’.
In March 2010 Devlin was signed to Island/Universal. His official debut album ‘bud, sweat & beers’ was released on November 1st 2010. The album is available to buy now.
In August 2011 Devlin’s debut album was certified Gold after selling over 100,000 copies.