After spending 13 years in the UK’s grime, hip-hop and rap game, London based artist Dpart swaps scenes to kick off his career in drum and bass. Dpart has wasted no time after winning Charlie Tee’s MC competition to perform at Electric Woodlands festival, as well as running his imprint Father DnB, stemming from one of TikTok’s largest drum and bass communities. Following the release of his new track ‘Say Nada’, we caught up with Dpart to talk about debuting in D&B and what he’s got in store for his imprint.
Getting Into Music
So firstly a bit about yourself, how did you get into music?
So for me it all started at the estate that I grew up on. All the older lot used to do old school grime sets on cassettes, and as a younger I wanted to do the same as them. So I started writing bars in school. I was listening to the likes of Skepta, Wretch, JME, Ghetts, Devlin, that era of grime. At the time my friend Taz created a channel which is now Link Up TV, and before I started music seriously he asked me to do a rap for it, so I was actually one of the first people on Link Up TV.
He asked me to do freestyle, we filmed it and put it out, and it got some good feedback! That just sparked it in me really, from there I loved it. I enjoyed the whole process of conceptualising a song and turning it into a reality, creating it and putting it out into the universe.
Switching To Drum And Bass
And the majority of the time in the music scene has been focused on grime, hip-hop and rap, what drew you to drum and bass?
I mean I always listened to drum and bass, and one of my mates who throws raves throughout London has always told me to get involved in the scene. But I think I got it into my head for a long time that rapping on D&B was just shouting, and spitting really fast for the sake of rapping.
I’ve never been one of those artists to rap so fast you can’t hear what I’m saying, I’ve always wanted there to be an element of realness and depth to my lyrics. My whole thing is about portraying a message, telling a story and speaking on my issues, so that listeners know they are not alone in their issues.
I always thought hip-hop and grime was the best outlet for that, and you wouldn’t be able to tell stories through drum and bass. But as the scene evolved and I matured as an artist, I realised I was wrong and you don’t have to rap fast on drum and bass. Obviously you can and so many MCs have shown that it definitely bangs, but it’s not essential.
What I’ve been trying to do is blend grime and hip-hop aspects with drum and bass. The hooks are catchy, melodic and something people can sing along to at a rave, but the verses are still very much UK rap, more hard hitting, heavy and controversial. And like I said, that’s everything I want to portray in my music and I’m glad I’ve been able to find that in D&B.
And now you’ve released your first D&B track will you be focusing more on the scene and straying away from grime?
Yes 100%, it’s R.I.P the old me and D&B and bassline music from now on, as I’m also featuring on some bassline singles dropping on Crucast in the future. To be honest I don’t want to do any other music. I feel like other genres are becoming more trend driven, whereas drum and bass is more driven by the scene and by emotion.
People are drawn to what they feel, not to what they are told to be drawn to. And that’s always been the type of person and fan that I want to appeal to. Because those are the types of artists that I’ve always resonated with.
So let’s talk about your first drum and bass track, what’s ‘Say Nada’ all about?
The track is kind of what it says on the tin really. If you haven’t got anything positive or constructive to bring to the table, then you might as well keep your opinion to yourself! I have been doing this for 13 years, I’ve been made a lot of promises by labels and management, and I’ve had a lot of doors closed in my face. This is me believing that this is the song that will prove them wrong.
I was told by a big drum and bass label that the song is not good enough, that I should scrap music and instead start working with them. This was then followed by being messed around for about six months with no outcome, and wasting a portion of my life. It was a very frustrating process and very tough mentally, especially as the track was made around November of last year.
After that six months, I came back to X4 who produced the beat and I said ‘let’s just put the tune out and have faith’. He was up for it, so that’s what he did.
The period of waiting is one of the worst feelings, but I am genuinely glad it happened as it made me realise I need to make things happen for myself.
So like I said I was putting a bet on myself and going against what people have told me about the song. And I want to send a message to the people who don’t have anything good to say, they can say nada!
And how did it first come about you working with X4?
To be honest I just came across his channel on YouTube, I was looking for some stuff to write to and ended up on his channel. Went through some of his beats and thought they were sick! I reached out to enquire about how much a beat was, and instead of me just purchasing one off him he said he was down to do a collaboration. As soon as we started chatting we hit it off. I respected his style, his work ethic, and he was just a good guy. He mixed and mastered the vocals as well, so he had done everything from the ground up. I really respected that he wanted to collaborate, instead of just making a quick buck. He had enough faith in the tune to say ‘don’t worry about the money, just put my name on it and we will see what happens’. I appreciated that especially as an independent artist.
It was a pleasure working with him on ‘Say Nada’ and he’s just a great guy overall.
And the track is the first release on your imprint Father DnB, which first started out as a TikTok channel? Can we hear more about how it first came about?
So Father DnB was originally set up by my business partner. It was just a meme page that posted D&B content, just little videos and memes. But we found that when we were using D&B tracks over videos, it was increasing the amount of views – I guess because people were watching and sharing tracks thinking ‘this is a banger!’.
There were also a lot of people in the comments always asking for the track ID. I noticed this, and so went ahead and used their promotional service for a jump up MC I manage called Ronson. The post that featured his song got 1.4m views in a week on Father DnB’s TikTok. Ronson had never released a song before this, but after that response I said ‘you’ve got to put this out!’. So we did and it got around 300k streams in a few weeks.
I thought to myself if it wasn’t for the TikTok post, that never would have happened.
I contacted the guy and asked if he had ever considered turning the channel into a label. All these other labels had TikTok channels and were doing the same thing, so it made sense. He’s a fair bit younger than me, and he said he didn’t have a clue about getting music on platforms, approaching artists, none of it. I told him I’ve been doing this 13 years now – I know how to write a press release, put together a mailing list, distribute music properly and get it on the right channels. I said ‘if you want to start a label then you’ve already built up the brand – I don’t want to wade in and take that away from you, but can add value to the areas that you don’t understand’. He was completely for it, and we’ve had a solid partnership ever since.
Over time it’s built up and is one of the largest D&B communities on TikTok – we currently have over 240 thousand followers and our content has received over 6.5 million likes in total.
This social presence makes it even more exciting that ‘Say Nada’ is the first release on the imprint. Obviously I am hoping it will do quite well, but off the back of it I also hope other artists can see what we’ve achieved through these methods and develop some traction for more releases on Father DnB.
So do you think TikTok is going to play a stronger role in the future of the drum and bass scene, and music in general?
I definitely think so, yes. If you look at say DnB Allstars or so many other labels, they’ve got a similar thing going. The TikTok page they’ve set up is a major pillar of the network they’ve set up to promote their music. Obviously they put on amazing events and a million other things, but as far as the social presence goes I think TikTok is a key pillar to it. Even for Sony, Warner, Atlantic, Colombia – major A&Rs dedicate a lot of time to TikTok.
It’s funny because I was very anti-TikTok at first! I was like nah I don’t trust it, it seems like a kids app and it won’t last. At first I felt like it was more for clout chasing than actual musicians. But my stance on TikTok has completely changed. What I’ve felt with other platforms is that algorithms will intentionally throttle your reach so that you feel your only option is to pay for promotion.
It’s happened to myself and I’m sure many other artists where I’ve put something out, and I’m left thinking ‘what am I going to do? I’ve spent years building this fanbase, and it won’t even let me reach them.’ I haven’t had this experience with TikTok, even though you can pay for advertising on the app. But if you don’t it will still have a good reach to potential viewers, and that is completely priceless.
Electric Woodlands Festival With Charlie Tee
Then back to you, you recently played Electric Woodland’s festival after winning Charlie Tee’s MC competition! How did you find that?
I did indeed and it was a mad adrenaline rush! I was very nervous, but having Charlie there made it easy. She talked me through it, and I felt very good about it. She had such a calming vibe and yet so much energy. I can’t speak highly enough of her, she’s a gem of a person and a crazy DJ. As a fan of drum and bass, I enjoyed every part of her set, from the tracks to the double drops. I had to fight the urge to jump in the crowd and just vibe out with the other ravers!
When I first found out I won, I was very gassed. It’s funny because Electric Woodlands is not far away from my house, and my mate Ronson said to me that somehow we will be doing that festival! As the date crept closer I was going to turn around to him and be like ‘maybe next year bro, it’s not looking likely this year’. But then I saw Charlie Tee’s competition and I thought this could be the way in. I entered, and I won! Somehow it had manifested. But after the immediate excitement, it really hit me that ‘I’ve actually got to do this now’. Before that I had never really performed to a crowd of more than 50 people, especially to an entire festival, and especially hosting drum and bass. You have to remember I’m new to the scene.
So I spent a few weeks building up to it doing my research, about what people like from a host. Because MCing live over drum and bass has a stigma around it – some people don’t like it while others love it. So I made sure to do a lot of research. The main thing I got from it was less is more, don’t try to rap over the whole thing but drop a few bars every so often when there’s breathing space, and try to encourage interaction from the crowd. I felt like I did a pretty good job in the end, especially after seeing how the crowd were interacting with me. But after that set it is definitely something I would like to do a lot more. Huge shout out to Charlie Tee for bringing me in, Electric Woodlands was an unreal experience.
What Can We Expect In The Future?
Then what can fans expect from Dpart in the future?
I’ve got a few more singles in the bag – I haven’t decided where and when I am going to release them yet, they are still a work in progress. But I’ve definitely got at least two or three of my own singles coming out this year. On top of that I’ve got a shed load of features, vocals for a lot of bassline and D&B producers. As this is a new genre for me I wanted to hit the ground running from the start.
I want to work with as many people as possible and immerse myself in the scene. If you keep filling up the pipe then eventually it is going to burst and it will be everywhere, and this was my thought structure going into it. I’ve got collabs with the likes of Arc Nade on Crucast, Aktive as part of his album, and Michael Sparks too.
It has been very exciting working with some heavyweights in the scene, especially as I am not the biggest artist. So big love to them all for that.
And what can fans expect from Father DnB?
So we’ve got a big release on July 29th from Ronson, the producer on that track is another artist I manage named Rex Venom. They dropped their first ever song together and it’s on around 300k streams on TikTok. It’s a proper filthy jump up – the tune is all about hallucinogens and the trippy end of festival life, which I feel a lot of people can relate to! That will be on all streaming platforms.
There is another release coming at the end of August with another artist called Rave Generator. I’m not actually allowed to say who Rave Generator is – he’s already a big producer in the house and garage scene, but wants to start doing D&B under an anonymous alias. So keep an eye out for him, I feel he is going to absolutely take over.
We are wanting to do more music for about 80% of our tracks that we release as well, so it won’t just be short-form content on the channel. There are loads of bits lined up for the imprint and lots of big plans in the works, so I’m very excited to see where we can take Father DnB.
Drum & Bass Playlist
We’re always updating our LoveThatBass drum & bass playlist on Spotify with all the freshest D&B music. Hit follow & check back regularly to stay updated with our favourite new releases from across the genre.