How many radio sets do you have to shell down before people notice? How many battles do you have to win? How many sick projects do you have to drop before people take notice? I don’t have any statistics, but one guy that has done all this and more this year is N3 mic man Row D, and it seems that, finally, after over ten years of graft, people are beginning to take notice. With that in mind, I thought I’d look back on some of Row D’s highlights in 2014 to show why he’s arguably been THE MC of 2014.
I’ll confess, I didn’t rate Row D too much until he dropped the “White Rhino” EP with LEVLS on production. I’d always liked him on radio sets, but I found that his previous mixtapes weren’t really for me. The “White Rhino” EP however forced me to change my opinion. At the time it dropped, “White Rhino” was Row D’s most cohesive collection of work, but this was soon bettered in 2014 when he collaborated with producer Adam Mac to release the “Elevation” EP.
The “Elevation” EP was, for me, the best showcase yet of Row D’s ability on tracks. As an MC Row D has always brought two vital elements that a lot of MCs seem to overlook: character and hype, and both are displayed throughout the “Elevation” EP. There is the obligatory weed anthem, “Lemon Haze“, a subject that’s been done to death, granted, but in the hands of Row D still manages to bring something fresh to the table. “Speed” finds Rowds spraying over Dubzta’s remix of the Adam Mac original and include some of my favourite bars on the EP. “Story Time” is straight Hip Hop, but no worse for that and it’s the stand-out track on the EP, in my opinion. Whether the story is true or not, Row D’s descriptive versus coupled with Adam Mac’s laid back beat combine to leave you feeling empathy anyway, and I have to salute Row D for this one. If you’re a fan of more introspective tunes, this one is for you.
Row D has been battling guys for years too. He’s really not the guy to fuck with in that way. One previous opponent was rumoured to have run off to Iraq to fight UK & US troops. And no, I’m not joking, because when Row D spins you, you don’t often come back. Tempo had two attempts at clashing Row D this year and lost both, and the reports are that Row D also took out Solja for the forthcoming “Who’s Da Boss 2”. You can see Row. D’s “Send Before War” here.
Which leaves us with radio. As you can see, Row. D has cropped up on most stations this year but it’s on Tiatsim‘s #HouseofGrime show that he seems most at home. Alongside other regular MCs on the show including the likes of Jammz, and Mic Ty (Mc Ty is the most impressive new MC for me in 2014, no exceptions), Row. D can be found most weeks spraying up the airwaves on Mode FM. In fact, Row. D’s been so active on radio this year that he’s probably single-handedly had more broadcasting output than BBC3. I asked Tiatsim what he felt Row. D brings to his show. “Rowds brings pure and raw energy to any show”, he explains. “He has a range of bars that people could learn from. He has them shut-down-the dance bars, he has the deep bars that can touch heart strings, and, of course, the endless bars for radio. He can also host very well, which young MC’s could learn from and makes the DJ’s job that bit easier. Row D is big on bringing through new MC’s as well, so my show benefits from that”.
Row. D isn’t done with 214 just yet either as he features on the remix of Grim Sickers “Black Bin Bag Him” alongside a tonne of other MCs including No.Lay, Ten Dixon and more (out Xmas day). He also told me that he has “a lot” of material ready to drop, so, if you didn’t keep up with him this year, I suggest you start now, because if he carries on like this, he could be unavoidable in 2015!