He’s of the UK’s most promising underground talents, as well as a conscious lyricist, Dot Rotten is also an established and well sort after producer, with his well known unique but still articulate and powerful gritty Hip Hop beats. With his transformation from Bazooka Riddim’s Young Dot to a wiser and matured Dot Rotten, he co-founded one of the best crew’s of this present moment, OG’s. After parting ways with the crew he has gone on to work with some of the finest rappers and MCs across the board from Wiley and Ghetts to Ice Kid. Laura ‘Hyperfrank’ Brosnan spent the day with Dot Cotton’s long lost cousin to find out what inspires him, his medium to rare beef with Chipmunk and that Lemonade Freestyle. (Versions of this interview/featured on Artrocker and in Super Super Magazine)
It’s clear to understand why Dot Rotten is so respected, his passion and drive for music is still pumping through his veins to the point his face just lights up every time the word song, track or tune comes up. Being an avid grime enthusiast I’ve followed the musical journey that Rotten has undertaken but I’ve always wanted to discover how it all started. His musical memories that go back to the start before he heard grime, even further back to his childhood and what sounds as well as experiences, sculpted his style as well as depth in his message. Growing up; his uncle, a music producer, would surround him with sounds of Wu Tang and Mobb Deep while his mother and his environment brought to him a different edge “My mum was always listening to a lot of current Pop like Earth Wind And Fire, Phil Collins to Jamiroquoi and old school jungle. I used to sit down and play Sega and I used to enjoy the ill back drops that the games had”. His love for Sega and Nindendo would later inspire him to make the legendary Real Talk riddim. Which was embraced by grime fans, one of the best versions had to be Durrty Goodz’s version Letter To Titch. Goodz’s explained in an interview that he chose the beat because at the time no other producer was making music he could genuinely express himself over.
Eventually his ears caught on to the Grime scene where he first heard what his local South London crew Essentials had to offer, follwing that, East Londoner’s Wiley and Dizzee soon came to his attention. With Dot producing and then picking up the mic to rap; at which point did he take his hand to take a stride into the grimey lane and attack some eski beats? He answers with a chuckle “The only reason I switched it up at 14 was because one time I must have been at school and I see some girl trying to spit bars about me. I went home and wrote bars for her, I had lyrics already but I had nothing to spin her with...” With what kind of bars did she attack him with? Before he reveals the slew, he sighs and then responds “I remember one of her bars was that I had Down Syndrome or something but I got her back don’t watch that...” and then breaks out in a full blast of laughter.
At one point he was, along with Ice Kid, were one of the main ‘youngers’ to compete against Chipmunk, arguably being more lyrically better as well as more talented. Some fans felt it was his non consistent music appearances, as well as music releases that made his career’s progression move slower than that of others his age. Although while he understands the frustration of being labelled the underdog and an up and comer Dot goes on to explain how much of a catch 22 the music game is without much guidance. “I would love to bring tunes out consistently week out and week in but I feel like if I do that then music lovers will just become immune to me. In a way where people just expect me to be releasing tunes and swamping the scene all the time.” What does he feel was his main downfall in not being in the situation he should be in right now? “The business behind the music wasn’t correct; I don’t feel like I was ready before, I was just putting enough music out so people would appreciate me rather than thinking logically and having a plan”
While his fan’s comparisons with Chipmunk go far back there has been an obvious rivalry between himself and Mr Munk that has resurfaced recently when Chip used his name in his version of the Wooo Riddim. It goes back to a time when Dot was watching Channel AKA’s BLOW on which Chip happened to be featured, at the start of his freestyle he started the bar ‘I’m not one of them barrers’, later on, a friend went on to reveal that he had been bad mouthing him, after a few confrontations things went quiet until the Wooo freestyle. “If you’ve achieved what is supposed to be success and the first time you try and come back to the underground and do something cool, you mention my name.”
While he has also been involved with co founding several crews including Hoodstarz, (which also had Ice Kid as a key player) as well as OG’s, Dot explains why he parted with his former stables to take on the game by himself “I could just see myself being more successful and sticking to a game plan by myself. It’s difficult trying to cater to every body’s sound, direction and needs, I can only do me.” Through his personal journey within the grime scene, one name that not only guided him through the ranks but also inspired him was Essentials and OG’s Nu Era. N.E sadly passed away last year and his life’s effects as well as the pain from him passing on are still clear today when I bring his name up. His face although clearly upset, still reveals a clear happiness when talking about his self appointed big brother. “When I first met him I was about 14, he literally brought me in and showed me how to do things properly, and he showed me before anyone that he had faith in me.” He then gets up to grab a tag on his microphone stand and proudly shows me “I’ve got this hanging here so he is in a way here when I’m making music, so he knows I’m thinking of him. Pretty much the people that I met through him were the people that taught me new things and made my music evolve.”
From his evolving stages and countless releases it’s clear to see the mature side of the man behind the lyrics and production. I’ve always wondered why he never dropped into the category of the token hype grime man muttering words for the sake of it; he has the answer “I feel like my lyrics have matured with me, I speak about the things I’ve seen and what I’ve done. I’m a traveller so I’ve seen so much, if I’m spitting all loud and hyped it’s because I’m doing it on purpose but my message is still different from the usual and the journey’s truly only started. My music’s like oxygen, it’s fresh and you can never get tired of oxygen.”
His personal journeys as well as the theme of his travels seem to be a constant reference in conjunction with how his music turns out – “Every day is a new experience for me, everything I see I take it in and keep it near my heart and think to myself there’s always someone doing worse than you. All the positive people I’ve met that have helped my career as well as my life have come in stages.” He then continues in his zone “Like I would meet one person and then from them I’d be introduce to that person, then I’d keep the link going and then suddenly everyone in the link starts speaking to each other...”
His thought process is clearly a step above the typical grime MC, when I bring up how he gets in his zone his left hand rubs his chin, as if he’s about to reveal his biggest secret. “It’s all about the energy, every lyric is like a page in my diary so I may spit it but that day I could have been angry but then when I look back at what I made and see how I was feeling that day”. He goes on to explain further how his fan’s can feel the authentic way in his music “So people can get a feel of what I’m like on different days rather than preparing it and soften it down.”
Dot's most recent ‘in his zone’ moment had to be when he featured on Radio 1’s UK Garage clash which he swept away with the crown for grime over Gucci Mane’s Lemonade instrumental. Even with the massive hype surrounding the cover Dot has yet to listen to the freestyle as he doesn’t want to pick out the flaws in his own work. “The love and appreciation that I received has given me a new feeling and fresh to drive on and make more music...”
His spirit is strong, just as much as his music, with the full team and structure that his music has needed since the start, he’s about to release some ground breaking music that will hit up every category and note but with instead of it going to his head. He’s learnt lessons that others should have “I’m just trying to keep composed and not get all big headed when fame starts building up and just make good quality music that everyone can appreciate for different reasons.” This Underground underdog is about to show you just how many juicy bones he’s been hiding right underneath our noses and I assure you, you should and will be surprised.