The inspiring story of D-Block Europe comes from grit, grime, and a relentless determination to beat the odds. Birthed on the rainy pavements of Lewisham South London, their feet have been firmly planted in the now thriving UK hip-hop scene, frequently recognised as substantial catalysts in the UK’s rise. The duo’s output is prolific with 7 projects since 2018, including 5 consecutive entries on the UK Top 10 Albums chart. ‘Lap 5’ is their latest release, a 16-track testament to their work rate and globally appreciated royalty status within the UK scene.

Trap music was undoubtedly the leading sub-genre of rap of the 2010s, particularly in the US. Artists including Future and Young Thug thrust the genre from the peripheral into the mainstream. And just as was done in the ATL, DBE made the style their own and introduced it to the UK; building a model that would eventually take over and influence a whole new generation of talent. What makes trap music so addictive are the hooks, melodies, and flamboyant, carefree lyrics – and D-Block embodies each quality to perfection. Their transparency and relatability make them a force outside the traditional borders of trap, their unique substance has enabled D-Block Europe to become one of the first UK acts to break through to an American audience.

It’s a rare sight in any recent year, let alone 2022 to see their name floating around the UK Top 10 or have a pending release right around the corner. Their influence goes beyond genre, DBE’s use of extremely explicit sexual lyrical content has had a noticeable trickle-down effect. ‘Doja’ by Central Cee, one of the biggest songs so far this year, likely wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for DBE’s fearlessly open approach. They are pioneers.

But they didn’t just arrive as a ready-made product. The lives of both Young Adz and Dirtbike Lb have been filled with trials, tribulations, and harsh realities, however, they have been overcome due to tactical nous and a commitment to raw substance.

D-Block Europe originated via a school link-up. Adz had started rapping at 7, influenced by his older siblings’ tastes in music. At just 15, he caught the attention of New York hip-hop icon Jadakiss, who initially wanted him for a verse on a song, however, Adz’s natural capabilities quickly surpassed that plan and resulted in a record deal at Kiss’ collective label, D-Block. Adz signed, and D-Block Europe was born.

The duo would later become independent but keep the D-Block brand and name close to home. In response to high demand after 2017’s ‘Trap House’ and 2018’s ‘The Shard’, their debut mixtape ‘Any Time Now’ with Yxng Bane would be the first of a flurry of projects. Less than a year later, ‘Home Alone’ dropped, with notable single ‘Kitchen Kings’, accelerating the group onto a whole new trajectory. The rest of 2019 saw an additional two mixtapes titled ‘PTSD’ and ‘Street Trauma’. Furiously dissatisfied with the idea of remaining comfortable and determined to capitalise on their momentum, the work rate increased again and the hits continued to flow. Significant press and radio attention ensured DBE could take time away from performing and releasing to focus on their debut album, ‘The Blue Print – Us Vs. Them’, which was released in 2020.

If you’re talking melodic trap, you’re not doing the conversation justice unless D-Block Europe is one of the first names on the list. Not just in the UK, but globally. These guys are certified. Never wanted to be boxed in their sonic contrast has been a staple theme across projects. Be it gritty street rap, pop records, R&B, melodic trap, or a combination of them all, everything is executed at a high level. Take the autotune away, and DBE would still comfortable make full-length, bar-focused rap projects, such is the mastery of the craft.

‘Lap 5’ proves that with their flawless balance between substance and fun; no imitation can touch the originators. It debuted at number 2 on the album charts, further adding to the aura that DBE sits comfortably in the upper echelon of UK trap with an ability to effortlessly release great bodies of work at a moment’s notice. They are responsible for countless anthems that have defined the upbringing of millions of teenagers around the world, and in particular, have fostered special moments within the UK music industry’s mega-rise over the last decade.

Standouts on the album include ‘Elegant & Gang’ which was smartly selected to run as the lead single, while Adz’s solo on ‘Bando Baby Diaries’ offers an extremely personal, heart-wrenching change of pace. His anecdote describes the first-hand account of the harsh reality for a lot of young men growing up in London surrounds. There’s a lot to be loved about ‘Lap 5’, from familiar DBE performances on tracks like ‘Conor Mcgregor’ and ‘Bankroll Got Bigger’, vintage Adz on ‘Man In The Mirror’, a great solo from Dirtbike on ‘Proud Of Me’, and an unexpected lane switch on ‘Fantasy’, Lap 5 constantly provides everything that DBE fans love about them while continuing to build on an impressive legacy. At 16 tracks long it’s succinct enough to stay interesting and varied enough to offer good replay value; a far cry from the deluxe boom we’ve grown accustomed to in the trap world.

“We’re the ones that are pushing this boundary, innit. Up until ‘Trap House’, what was the standard music video like? I’ll tell you: mandem taking themselves serious, can’t even smile, no dancing. We come through, talking bout “I got keys in the penthouse, G-packs in the trap house”, dancing, wavy, glasses on. We’re showing you a fun time. Now, what’s the standard shit n***** are doing in videos? Dancing, smiling, happy, wavy.”

Young Adz & Dirtbike Lb on Beats 1 Apple Music with Charlie Sloth (2019)

The genius of D-Block Europe is appreciated by rap heavyweights across the globe. Their allure is nothing short of warranted. They know how to play to both the industry and their fans. And they do it very, very well. One would be forgiven for forgetting that they’re still unsigned, still without a major label operation, and yet still able to regularly crack the top of the charts and collaborate with names including Chip and Skepta. D-Block Europe are special. They’re groundbreaking. They’ve got reserved seats in any VIP discussion of influential UK entertainers. And yet somehow, they’re still just getting warmed up.

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