THROWBACK: Devlin differentiated himself as an 'Actual Artist'
Devlin contributed a track for The Movement’s Tempo Specialists dubbed ‘Actual Artist’, and 13 years on it’s still incredible.
From the delicately plucked melody, to full, bright strings, to emotion moving harmonics, and Devin spitting his passion from above; this track holds everything great about early grime, and a nostalgic feel that could never be recreated.
Tempo Specialists was the first mixtape from The Movement, released in 2006, and mainly consists of Ghetts, Wretch, Scorcher and Mercston. However, potential the time that Devlin started to affiliate with the group, he drops in a gem mid-way through the project.
As we all know, Devlin has a way of injecting pure passion and emotion into his records - from ‘Take Me Away’; to ‘Community Outcast’; to ‘London City’. This early on in his career that may have even been amplified more than it is today. Setting the scene with the first bar he raps: “They make songs for no reason. None of their songs got meaning.”
From start to finish, this is a beautiful infusion of dramatic crashes, sharp percussion and passionately warm and inspiriting timbres. This is where Devlin’s true musical affection and deep personality shine through. As he eloquently and wisely proceeds with bars on why he is so much better than the rest. Even if this is a common theme in grime and rap, the Dagenham native does it in a way that many can’t - with a raw, real, educated sense of confidence, knowledge, skill and determination.
What’s most impressive is the way he intelligently and creatively sets himself apart from other MCs by stating himself as an “actual artist” - 1. for him to recognise the difference, and 2. for him to recognise the importance of this.
Another interesting bit is the Scorcher production credit. Though it may be not common knowledge, around this time in particular “Skywalker” had his hand on the buttons fairly often; notably releasing ‘Way Down the Road’; ‘Beef With T’; ‘Igloo Remix’; ‘Talk of the Ghetto’. Furthermore, he won the Official Mixtape Award for best producer in 2009 and was also nominated for best Grime mixtape of 2010. This instrumental is a grime gem, that encompasses the narrative of that time - the genre evolving out of its typical “masculine, hard, gritty” sounds and pursuing a more commercial and dynamic reach. Props to Scorcher on that one.