"EVERYONE is unique. My unique quality is me, and I just want people to enjoy my music and like listening to the Devlin story," says East London’s James Devlin of his qualities. The 23-year-old MC, best known as simply Devlin, has risen through the grime ranks alongside the best of them – Wiley, Wretch 32, Ghetts et al – and now he stands tall in the music industry as one of the UK’s top lyrical wizards, one who can make you feel his pain and reality in just a few bars.
"My scene has been bubbling away for a while now, and it used to seem like we were always the underdogs, but I'm just happy that people are standing up and listening now," says Devlin on the acceptance of grime and UK hip-hop in the mainstream. "The musical landscape is constantly evolving and there are so many strong artists in different genres who are making a big name for themselves right now." One of those artists being himself.
With a slew of top 40 singles and a gold-selling debut album (Bud, Sweat & Beers) on his CV, it’s safe to say that Devlin has arrived. Yes, it may have been a long, "mad" road for the silver-haired star, but an eye-opening one nevertheless. "So much has changed and I'm so grateful for the love that I've received from the public and my fans, and never would I have thought I'd be here releasing my second album four years later," says the mic controller on his rise to fame since the release of his London City single. "Selling over 100,000 copies of Bud, Sweat & Beers and getting a gold plaque has to be my biggest achievement so far. Never in a million years did I think that would happen! I never thought that I, Devlin, would be able to stand up and say that I had achieved something that mind-blowing."
On February 4, the fast-rhyming lyricist will release his second LP, A Moving Picture. His "most personal" offering to date, Devlin hopes the fans take it in and get to know the deep-thinker a littler deeper. "This new album just allows me to look back at my life and reflect on how far I have come, because it has honestly been like my own moving picture," Devlin explains. "I was nervous about putting it out there, actually, and any artist who says that they don't worry what people think is having you on [laughs]. My team and I wanted to make it feel cinematic and embrace some different sounds, which is why you hear some different sounds in there, like classical beats and so on. Also, I've got a few collaborations on there with Katy B, Wretch 32 and Ed Sheeran... It was a pleasure to work with them all."
"You know, a lot's happened in my life since my first album, and I really wanted to channel that into the music on the new one. I just hope that the industry receive it and understand it as well as they did with Bud, Sweat & Beers. Most importantly, though, I want my fans to enjoy it and want to listen to it over and over again."
Devlin's new album, A Moving Picture, is out now.
Written by Joseph JP Patterson