JUST over a year ago Rugby’s Cream Ov Da Crop were on the verge of breaking up after losing 30 songs and countless hours of work when a computer crashed.
Instead of quitting, they regrouped, reinvented themselves and wrote an album from scratch. It all sounds pretty unremarkable until you hear the quality of what they produced...
The album, called 11/10, was eventually released earlier this year and was recorded and produced themselves, but after a listen you would be forgiven for thinking it had the backing of a major label. It’s real stand-out trait is the songwriting, which from start to finish is emotive, catchy and melodic.
It reminded me of Dizzee Rascal’s breakthrough Boy in da Corner, not because of the way it sounds as much as its energy, creativity and purity. Backed by quality songs, the vocal work - particularly Double D’s (David Davies) singing – is staggering. Describing their sound is hard, but if you can imagine the best bits of dance, garage, grime and hip-hop combined then you’ll get a rough idea.
Backed up by a small army of fans in Rugby, the six musicians are now working hard at the not too unrealistic prospect of a shot at the big time. The most popular song with fans on the album, Underwater, was released last week and the group have their sights fixed on getting it into the top 100. It’s not an unrealistic prospect either. It’s a simple - but brilliant – grimy pop song that’s catchy enough to stay in your head for days.
Over the last decade, the band, in various forms, has notched up over a million hits on YouTube, but the aggressive style of grime - a genre of rap – that they had been renowned for was largely dropped for 11/10, and the band found a whole new direction.
Vocalist Dizzle (Samuel Davies) explained: “We’ve grown up since then. We didn’t want to talk about violence, drugs or bling or anything else that people have come to expect from that type of music.”
Fellow vocalist LT (Stefan John) agrees. “Some people thought 11/10 was going to be negative, aggressive or violent but the vast majority of it is positive. It surprised a lot of people. I guess our background wasn’t something we wanted to forget, but something we wanted evolve from,” he said.
When they released 11/10 this summer demand was such that it crashed their Soundcloud page due to the number of downloads and forced them to find other ways of distribution. They also dabbled in merchandise and were amazed when they shifted 100 Cream Ov Da Crop T-shirts in under two weeks. Interest in the band grew enough to make their songs available for download via text message, mainly for younger fans and those who didn’t have their own iTunes account.
Mr B, aka Matthew Baker, said: “We’d like to get our single into the top 100 at some point. There are a lot of bands all vying for attention but to get something in the charts would give us a bit more clout when it comes to getting noticed and getting bookings outside of Rugby.”
It’s taken the band several years to get to this point. They were originally united by DJ Priceless (Paul Price), who introduced the band members from different social groups as he was keen for them to work together.
A lot of the technical wizardry comes from Mavey D (Chris Davies), a DJ and sound technician. He said: “We’re self-taught with almost everything we do. With trial and error, you learn so much more and over the years and it gives you the creative edge you need to progress.”
The band have played shows all over the UK, and have started to get the attention of media elsewhere. BBC Coventry and Warwickshire have played their new single three times this summer, as have Hillz FM in Coventry and another community radio station in Manchester, who rang them up the day they heard their album.
They’ve earned a glowing four-star review in influential Music Review Unsigned magazine and featured favourably the Spotlight section of online magazine Vanity.
Double D, (Dizzle’s older brother), said: “The past few months have been really busy for us and it really feels like we’re getting somewhere. While we all have jobs and other commitments at the moment I think we all spend every spare moment we have thinking about it.
“We have all the skills we need, we have great song writers, great vocalists, great producers and DJs and we work hard – there’s no reason why we can’t make a real success of this.”
Their manager, Dama James, who helps out with things like publicity and bookings is also optimistic:
“The best compliment I’ve heard is when one fan told me he was no longer ashamed to say where he was from - he said he could proudly say he was from Rugby – the home of Cream ov da Crop.”
n 11/10 is available on iTunes, play.com and hmvdigital. To hear Underwater, search for the video on YouTube, download it from one of the sites above or text TRACK CODC M to 80818. Texts cost £1 plus standard rate.