WORDS BY BEN FREEMAN
Writing this article has been… a journey. I first drafted this a year and a half ago, confident D5 had new music just around the corner. He assured me he did, but, well, it must have been a very big corner.
In order to remember when this article really began, I have to cast my mind back to the end of 2015. It started at the Allerton High sixth form party – Allerton High being the school both Delmar and I had attended. At this point, I had been writing seriously for a month or two, so me and Delmar discussed me writing a feature on his new music, when he was ready to drop it. That very night I went home and wrote the intro to the article. Just so I had a concept of the time scale I was working with, I asked Delmar when to expect the new music.
“Real soon”, he replied.
Little did I know, ‘”real soon” meant almost a year and a half from that day, or March 31st 2017 to be precise.
WHOD is a huge step in a promising direction, for the advancement of D5 as an artist. There are monumental, and instantly recognisable, improvements in comparison to his previous project M.I.N.D (I call it a ‘project’ hesitantly, because I know D5 classes WHOD as his first real project). To me, the most obvious progression is the strenuous thought and genuine grind that’s gone into the project. It feels like everything, from the order of the tracklist to the delicately chosen samples, has gone through vigorous debate as to whether it belongs, and the result is a project on which nothing feels as though it has just been thrown in; everything feels in place, as it should with any successful musical project.
Asides from these more production-based and technical improvements, the flow D5 drops and the bars he executes makes it clear he’s confident in his own ability and is becoming more and more comfortable with himself as an artist. The wordplay on WHOD is vivid whilst also being very clever; on the first track, Differences, Delmar drops:
“If I get a coffee then i might get a tea too (T2), but I’m not heartbroken, I’m just broke”.
D5 reverses the stereotype of egotism and wealth in Hip-hop, and instead his lyrics reveal what’s real to him; something that takes bravery in an industry currently saturated by mumble rap where content orbits around money and Xanax.
After the studio session with D5, he answered a few of my questions about himself as an artist, and the direction of his music:
For those unaware, who are you and what do you do?
Hey guys, My name is Delmar Williams or D5 and I am a rapper/musician from Leeds.
How long have you been making music?
Early days I would say that I have been making music since around age 13 but only started to take it seriously around late 2015. The music I made back then was suppper different to what I make now haha.
How and why did you start making music?
I started making music purely because my mum bought me a 500 page A5 notepad for school even though all books were provided, so at the time I didn’t have anything else to fill it with. Half the time if I was bored I’d just write down stupid rhymes that barely made sense and were mainly based on money I didn’t have. After a while it just became more of a pass time I learned how to turn my iPod touch into a mic so I could finally start recording them. Confidence built and I decided to freestyle for a friend. Long story short, we recorded that shit put it on facebook and the vid got like 100 views, 10 likes and like 3 comments, and i was like “yeahhh, fuck this, rapping is the one”. Honestly, the video was awful.
Who are your biggest influences as an artist?
Honestly, I didn’t really have many influences. At the beginning, I mean, I went through a serious Drake phase, but I more appreciated his producer’s production and his style of sound rather than his actual flow or overall rapping choice. I went through phases of different rappers at the time but non really had a producer like Drake. Then my cousin introduced me to a guy called Atu on soundcloud and that don was seriously good, (probably still my favourite producer). There I found Sango, Mura masa, Fortune, soulection, whereisalex, M-phases. These were guys that I wanted to be able to sound like. But they were all producers, not rappers. Then I heard Chance The Rapper and the game changed for me. That’s when I knew what direction I wanted to head in, the guy is ridiculously original and you can’t deny it. Also A2; A2 just has that vibe man. When I heard Holograms I learned a lot about less is more. The guy is fucking cold. Don’t get me wrong, now it is so much more but when I was still confused he was the biggest influence.
What are you trying to achieve with your latest project?
Prior to the project I had been away for 2 years whilst i was transitioning out of a music style phase (That american accent shit ughh).
I moved to a music college and was desperately trying to get better but also remain different since there were so many other guys doing the same type of music. So when I got rid of the first attempt at the project (originally 14 songs) I decided that I just wanted to comeback and just be as natural as possible, the same person you meet just on a killer beat. Making the project for the second time made me want people see a ‘difference’. I loved the UK scene and the scene Leeds had, also but I didn’t want to just be another ‘MC’ because I felt like there were enough of those already, I wanted to make more music that was unfamiliar and create a lane.
And what’s the theme of WHOD?
The theme of the whole project was to kind of shed light on a lot of different things that I learned over mostly that last 9-10 months and how there is always going to be different opinons and tastes on literally everything. That is why the style of production and vibe shift so much, I was trying to create a project that overall had at least one song everyone could enjoy, whilst still making songs I actually liked. Then underneath that is a whole underlying story about some shit that happened and how I deal with a situation, meaning every song connects to each other more or less.
Which song on WHOD is your favourite?
That shit has to be “know you well”, omg. Especially cause Jade (the singer)’s vocals were unplanned. I had the studio session booked and I was gonna record by myself (because I prefer it sometimes) and Jade just refused to sit this session out (even though she had no idea what I was recording). The whole time recording the verses, she was just singing under her breath until she did the “Know you well” lyric in the background. Then I was just like “nahhh do that again wtf” she smashed that chorus out in like 3 takes and it was literally what made the song 10x better.
Other than that though I’d have to say “what u need” as well because the second verse just perfectly portrayed everything I was thinking at the time even though it uses parts from songs I made over a year ago.
If you could improve one aspect of your music, which aspect would it be?
Definitely the engineering. I mixed and mastered everything myself in my room which is like the worst when it comes to acoustics. Also I recorded in logic, but then had to rebuild songs in FL Studio because I have a PC at home so not only was I attempting to mix on (at the time) kinda shitty headphones and lack-luster monitors, I also had to literally rebuild the songs using audio files I saved from the session every time. It was a real tedious routine man. But I knew I could have done so much better if I just had a slightly better environment. That’s cool though, it’ll do for now. Musically, there’s loads I could have improved but I think it came out perfectly for the time and how I wanted the project to generally feel.
Whats next for D5?
Well, i guess we’ll see… Happy Differences Day.