Back in 1995 a 17-year-old MC took to the hip-hop scene in the UK. Armed only with a few demos and oblivious of how to prosper in the music industry, little did he know he would end up being one of the few pioneers of hip-hop in the UK.
Funky DL started earning props when his music received regular air play on stations such as Kiss FM, Choice FM and Radio one by the likes of veteran Jockeys such as DJ 279, Max LX and Dave VJ and Tim Westwood.
In 1996 Funky DL went on to win the well known Fosters Ice Breakers competition and released his first record The Individual, this consequently led to DL being firstly offered a two single deal with Almost records which developed further into an album deal with Almo Sounds and a publishing deal with Rondor Music.
Equipped with unlimited studio access, DL set about crafting his debut album Classic Was the Day. The album was released in the late summer of 1997 and was widely received by the UK’s hip hop fraternity and veered DL on to win a MOBO award for the best hip hop act of 1997.
In the same year Funky DL went on to remix records for artists such as Missy Elliott, Keith Sweat, Adina Howard, and Connor Reeves, as well as going on to spearhead The London All-stars project (a collaboration of London’s finest rappers) including MCD, Blak Twang, TY, Skinnyman, ESP, Kwestmann, Q-Tee, Phoebe One, Fallacy and Rodney P. This was a unique one of a kind release and stunned the scene as no record had ever before been released with such a high profiled caliber of rappers from the UK.
In 1998 DL signed to an independent label “Utmost Records” and released his sophomore album Heartfelt Integrity. Another MOBO nomination was presented which reflected DL’s consistency and helped him to further cement his name and efforts in the scene.
Funky DL went on to tour Australia, France and Israel, the latter being an unusual destination for rappers but was overwhelmingly received, returning to London to support the likes of The Roots, K-Ci & JoJo, Ras Kas, Killah Priest, and stole the show in front of 3,000 people at the Hippodrome Leicester Square from an early Destiny’s Child at the Choice FM 8th Birthday Party.
After a very rewarding year, DL left Utmost Records to run his own label Washington Classics and in 1999 Washington Classics released numerous Funky DL records including the 12-inch “Stoppin and Startin” which surprised many of DL’s critics because of the amazingly tight lyricism. DL released his third album “One Another” (a first for any rapper in the UK) which led to yet another MOBO nomination and propelled him to even greater heights, touring in Japan where his music was being so widely received.
Single-handed, Funky DL had earned himself the title of “the hardest working man in hip-hop”, now synonymous with his name. Another successful year saw DL support the superstar “Eminem” for his UK tour and was recalled in early 2000 to join Eminem and Dr. Dre in the Brixton Academy. 2000 also saw DL do his second tour of Japan and also fly out to New York to work with the rapper Miilkbone and also feature on Bobbito Garcia’s radio show along side N’Dea Davenport and hip hop heavyweight producer Easy Mo Bee…
Funky DL’s fourth album When Love Is Breaking Down was released which led to DL’s return to Japan for its promotion, Touching down at the infamous Club Harlem Shibuya Tokyo and making several public appearances in HMV stores in Tokyo and Yokohama for signing and performing tracks in store live.
DL spent the next few years expanding his name in Japan by licensing many albums to established labels and touring extensively in many cities across Japan such as, Tokyo, Osaka, Mito, Hamamatsu, Wakayama, Utsunomiya, Fukuoka, Kyoto, Sapporo, Gifu, Nagoya, Okayama, Yokohama and Akita. DL also used this period to write, produce for and record with his R&B outfit Thursdays Love. The Debut Thursdays Love album For the Love of Jazz and Thursdays was so well received in Japan it was re-released after being licensed by a major Label in Japan.
This led DL to go on to produce “Life When You’re Driving” a yet to be released album by R&B vocalist Dyanna Fearon featuring the incredible talents of Xantonè Blacq (Current Keyboardist for Amy Winehouse).
Funky DL then went on to New York to produce for an up and coming rapper from Far Rockaway Queens named Sekz, and featured with Sekz on The Showbiz and A.G single “The Street.” DL released his 5th and 6th albums Blackcurrent Jazz and The Classic Fantasy (The most vivid and vibrant Funky DL albums yet) which have been so widely received in Japan making DL one of the UK’s most unique international artists to date as no other UK hip-hop act has been able to equal Funky DL’s achievements from then till now..
In 2005 the album Street Love, which the UK smash “Little Mike” is taken from, was a special limited release, meanwhile the album Since 77 saw seen its Japanese release to co-inside with DL’s five date summer tour of Japan as well as the launch of the funkydl.com and website as DL started to prepare idea’s for what was to be the now evident The 4th Quarter album.
A Funky DL Greatest Hits album was released in Japan in 2006, marking DL’s many accomplishments and was well received followed by a Latin styled release of old titles re-recorded and remixed with fresh visions.
DL then took the fork in the road in late 2006 and once again decided to do something different by flying out to New York to clear his head and write what was to be Street Swagger. A 24 track promotional CD which was to be a completely free release for 2007 to celebrate 10 years since the birth of Washington Classics and also a decade since his first album emerged. The Washington Classics Street Team went out in the streets of London to circulate 10,000 CD’s in the capital at no charge as well as making 10,000 downloads available from the website again for no cost to the consumer and this promotion proved as an invaluable asset to DL’s whole outfit.
DL then intensively worked to complete the album The 4th Quarter, which he has himself remarked as one of his “greatest moments in his career creatively” as it embodies the 4 elements and styles which he specializes in. The album is segmented into 4 areas which represent soul, new age, jazz and authenticity and was a listening experience which intrigued even the most subtle of hip-hop heads there are.
In Early 2008 DL recorded a unique album entitled The Jazz That Was Forgotten, which was to be an album that concentrated on 10 musical instruments heavily used in Jazz where each track on the album was a representation of that instrument with the said instrument providing the prominent melody or break within the track. This album along with a best of album was released in Japan in September of 2008 and was met with great responses from hip-hop fans who appreciate the connoisseurship element to real music. In the meantime Funky DL co-wrote and produced an album entitled Imagine Me for UK sensation Lei-an and with the business experience he had picked up over the years, was the key player behind the project management of this release in November 2008.
The productivity didn’t stop there as DL went back into the studio to produce the album The Interview, released on BBE Records in 2009. The album concept structured as a radio interview with radio personality Dave VJ, where in between the tracks VJ asks DL a question and the very last words of DL’s answers are the titles of the proceeding track which often go on to elaborate on DL’s answer(s). The album was created to give the listener much more than just an album but an insight to DL’s thoughts, feelings and views on various music related topics as DL was aware that all the fans of his music are not always able to catch him on the radio and this serves as a highly interesting listen.
As a producer, DL was requested to submit some music for the famous MTV show “Runs House” and his contributions were aired in the final episode of season two “Baby Comes Home”
Funky DLAs no stranger to the studio DL started to work on a soulful dance music project with production collective Gemini Infinity and set about to craft the brilliant album LOVECHASEDREAM, which was immediately signed by a Japanese Record label and subsequently released in September of 2009. The project featured the creative talents of some of DL’s most favored collaborates including Xantonè Blacq, Giorgio Serci, Sienna, Dukus Alemay and Lei-an.
Again DL went straight back in the studio to produce The Comfort Zone, a new album by UK hip-hop artist Pyrelli, completely and solely produced by DL himself. This is the first “hip-hop” album Funky DL has ever produced for another MC and features a wider variation of his production styles than usual. At the same time DL produced a few track for “Little Brown Girl”, an up and coming R&B vocalist from East London as well as a few production credits for UK hip-hop sensation Klashnekoff for his forthcoming mix-tapes project.
DL then embarked on his first tour opportunity in Europe playing at “Banana Split” in Cologne, Germany in front of an audience at capacity and also The Merrker in Baden, Switzerland with surrounding European countries to follow.
Washington Classics then set up the release of “Funky DL / The Ultimate Collection”, a 36 track double CD encompassing the most favorable musical moments from DL’s entire history as a recording artist.
DL took a little twist in the road in January 2010 and recorded Back To Frank, an amazingly interesting conceptual album in which DL sampled moments from Grammy Award Winning artist Amy Winehouse and her debut album Frank, and recreated and reprogrammed these samples into a whole hip-hop album which was promoted as FREE online download to which the masses scooped up immediately with over 180,000 downloads to date.
In June 2010 DL then followed with Back To Rap, the sequel to Back to Frank, where he took on the creative sampling techniques lifting from Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black album and again released this as a FREE online download, but this time including features from various UK urban acts such as Pyrelli, MCD, and Addictive, to name a few.
Also in 2010 funky DL released of his next studio album entitled A Classic Example of a… and did a 3 date tour in Japan in August performing in Tokyo and Osaka. On top of this Funky DL has recorded with Japanese Producers Melodiverse and CM Smooth, featuring their production as well as his own for his 2011 album Blackcurrent Jazz 2, which he himself remarks as “one of my best albums if not the..”
Blackcurrent Jazz 2 was an instant success with rave reviews of the genuine creativity and polish that brings the album together in such a refined and mature way. Funky DL also released a 4 album instrumental series entitled Cool Classic Jazzstrumentals, which encompasses some of the smoothest beats from his catalogue. DL visited Shanghai, China for the first time in July 2011 for a performance at the Casio “G-Shock – Shock The World Tour” and in addition, has explored further into Europe, performing shows in Berlin Germany (Club Cassiopeia) in September 2011 and also (The Merkker) in Badan, Switzerland in October 2011.
The frightening thing about all of DL’s accolades is that he feels as if this is just the beginning… So in summing up… For a young man who at 19 scored a 5 album deal with no management, won a MOBO and was the only X3 consecutive UK hip-hop nominee period, remixing for well known acts, travelling the world touring and producing for underground and established acts, owning and running a respected record label dealing with main stay labels… at the age of just 33 you could agree.. DL is the about one of the greatest and successful hip-hop inspirations the UK could offer!!!!