In September 2005, Jay-Z became the first rap artist to perform at London's stodgy Royal Albert Hall, causing young 'uns raised on pirate radio and bashment beats to pay close attention. About halfway through the night they were rewarded, as Memphis Bleek and Hov delivered the springy verses of "Is That Your Chick" over the craggy terrain of Lethal B's "Pow." It was an important moment for cross-pond hip-hop: The best in the game invaded the old folks' home and spit lyrics over a homegrown grime instrumental.
The man responsible for "Pow"'s demanding beat is 22-year-old North London whiz kid Dexplicit. The son of a reggae lover, he spent his childhood watching his dad cut tracks in his home studio. This sparked an interest in the nuts-and-bolts side of music-making–before Dex could even grow a mustache, he was parked in front of a computer, slaving away at rudimentary electronic beats. By the age of 15, he was sending material to heavy-hitting pirates like Heat FM, where MC Slick D would deliver entire sets over his big, angry basslines and lightning-quick breaks."It doesn't bother me at all when people talk about my age," says Dex. "I'm very proud of achieving what I have so far."
As well he should be. In a few short years, he's put a unique stamp on his music. By pushing average hip-hop to warp speeds, tossing in enormous, growling basslines and exploiting the bass-driven energy and propulsive, kick-heavy relentlessness of 4/4 garage house, Dexplicit has created a distinctive sound, exciting even the UKG naysayers who've been bemoaning the genre's death before it even started. His dancefloor-ready jams have made him one of the most sought-after producers in the "UK urban" scene–he's worked extensively with UK pop acts like NaNa and Maxwell D while releasing underground bangers on his DXP Recordings label. Now, his star is starting to rise in America, thanks to recent remixes of Dipset and M.I.A. "I want to build an empire," says Dex. "I want [the Dexplicit] brand to be well known throughout the globe, like Aftermath or Def Jam."
With his Melodic Energy Vol. 1 mixtape flying off shelves, a new NaNa record in the queue, and a remix of Dem Franchise Boys' "I Think They Like Me" forthcoming on Virgin UK, that doesn't seem so unlikely. When Dexplicit says he'll achieve an unthinkable amount by the time he's 25, it doesn't come off as wishful thinking–it sounds like a promise.