Band of the Day

2011.12.03

DELS

Electrified, experimental hip hop flowing from the arteries of England
Am I dreaming in colour or black in white? Is it truth that I’m living or am I living a lie?
lyrics from Gob

DELS is the stage name of rapper Kieren Dickins from Ipswich, England. His music draws from a variety of influences, ranging from hip hop, to electro-pop, to grime. Alongside being a rapper, DELS is also a graphic designer and a graduate from Kingston University. His first single, “Lazy,” was released in February 2008. In 2010, he was signed to acclaimed hip hop label, Big Dada Records. Through Big Dada, he released his single “Shapeshift” in August 2010. It was received with critical acclaim, with UK music publication Drowned In Sound naming it as one of their top singles of 2010. Between 2009 and 2011, DELS recorded material for his debut album, GOB. It was released in May 2011 on Big Dada Records, and features production work from Joe Goddard (of electro-pop group Hot Chip), multi-instrumentalist Kwes, and experimental pop musician Micachu. After touring around Europe with MF Doom and YO! Majesty, and playing at Glastonbury Festival, DELS is currently based in London.

Sometimes being teased as a kid can be a blessing in disguise. In the case of Ipswich, England native rapper DELS (whose real name is Kieren Dickins), his stage name came from being made fun of by his classmates when a teacher mistook him for another kid named Delroy. Since then, he's graduated from Kingston University in London, and has worked as a graphic designer—all while managing to record and release his debut album, GOB. Named after Brit-speak for “mouth” (as in, “shut yer gob!”), and not Will Arnett's character in the TV show “Arrested Development,” GOB is an 11-song collection of electrified, experimental hip hop. It boldly merges genres that normally steer clear of each other, thanks in part to production work from Joe Goddard (of electro-pop group Hot Chip), multi-instrumentalist Kwes, and experimental pop musician Micachu. If you're a fan of the XBOX game NBA 2K12, you might already be familiar with DELS' first single, “Shapeshift,” which is on the soundtrack. It has a sputtering electronic beat (courtesy of Goddard), as if DELS' music is injecting sparks of energy into a light bulb that's about to burn out, making it shine more brightly than it ever did before. Lyrically, it's about being young and constantly changing your image until you find yourself: “Before I picked up a mic and started writing rhymes, I could alter my form at any given time,” DELS raps. The incredible music video released alongside the single enhances this sentiment, with DELS hypnotically morphing and cloning himself in scene after scene. “Capsize” is another production with Goddard at the helm, and features a cameo from the highly-prolific British rapper Roots Manuva. It starts with battle-worthy horns, as if DELS is getting pumped up for a ringside match. But the match he's fighting, with Goddard and Roots Manuva as his close allies, is a political one: “Ain't nothing changed since Britain turned blue/Except more cops, more problems,” he spews with cutting vitriol. He goes on to directly criticize the conservative policies of David Cameron, Prime Minister of Britain, with lines like: “Do they really care for the disenfranchised?” and “Looks like we're all f**ked, no lube/Cameron better steer clear of my arse.” The latter might not be the most eloquent way to get his point across, but the political fire that rages verse after verse is a refreshing change from hip hop songs that generally stick to topics like booties and bongs.