It has been 48 hours since Marc Veira, known as Flowdan, awoke to numerous messages and calls of congratulations for being the first British MC to receive a Grammy award. Speaking through a video call from his home in east London, he shares, “I didn’t anticipate winning, so I wasn’t anxiously awaiting the news.” He adds, “I haven’t even had a chance to celebrate yet. It seems like I’m still considered a newcomer in the US, despite having a 20-year career in this industry.”
Veira, at the age of 43, has spent the last 20 years using his deep voice to create tracks that are sure to get people dancing in British clubs. He was a founding member of Roll Deep, a UK rap group that played a crucial role in the development of grime music. Alongside Wiley and Dizzee Rascal, Veira helped establish this genre. He also has a longstanding partnership with producer the Bug, resulting in popular songs like Skeng, which has become a staple in the bass-heavy dubstep scene. Standing at over 6 feet tall with a beard sprinkled with grey hair and a gold tooth that shines when he raps in his patois-influenced style, Veira is an experienced leader of energetic crowds. Finally, he is receiving mainstream recognition for his talents.
Skrillex and co-producer Fred Again’s collaboration, Rumble, won the Grammy award for Best Dance/Electronic Recording, marking a significant achievement for the duo. The track showcases Skrillex’s expertise in creating intense bass frequencies and Fred Again’s talent for sampling, combined with Veira’s dynamic yet relaxed flow. First introduced during DJ performances in 2022, Rumble quickly gained popularity and became a highlight of arena shows. Its impact reached its peak when it was played to a crowd of over 100,000 people at Skrillex and Fred Again’s headline set at Coachella in 2023.
I have observed a shift in the energy of the audiences I perform for since then. People in the UK and Europe are familiar with me, but now they are reacting to me with heightened fervor. It feels like I am receiving more recognition and being seen as a champion of the people.
Undoubtedly, another dancefloor hit that Flowdan has had a hand in shaping over the past year is Chase & Status’s Baddadan. Moving away from the creeping dubstep influences of Rumble and towards the powerful drum’n’bass, Baddadan has become a symbol of the genre’s recent resurgence and reached No 5 on the UK charts. A recording from a Boiler Room session in October captures Veira performing the track and causing the crowd to erupt with four wheel-ups. The video has since been viewed over 6 million times. Veira explains, “It was natural for me to record that one. Saul [one half of Chase & Status] sent it over and I just flowed with it, as it’s music I’ve known my whole life.”
Veira’s introduction to MCing was through the emergence of drum and bass music in the 1990s. At the age of 13, he discovered his talent for rhyming and storytelling while completing a school assignment. He drew inspiration from influential drum and bass MCs such as Skibadee and MC Det, who were revolutionizing the sound system culture of his cultural background with their heavy bass sounds. Listening to them on the radio sparked something within him, as they were both English and Caribbean like him. He began to imitate their lyrics and although he was too young to attend the raves, he kept hearing about their incredible skills. Veira longed to be a part of this world.
Veira didn’t find his own voice until he met Wiley during college when he was 16 years old. By 2001, they had formed Roll Deep and introduced grime to the music scene. Now that Veira was old enough to attend raves, he was the one performing on stage and causing chaos. He recalls with a smile how promoters would sometimes warn them not to get the crowd rowdy, even though it wasn’t their intention. He also remembers how some clubs banned their song “Pow! (Forward)” due to the wild reactions it would elicit from the audience.
While Roll Deep members pursued individual success, Veira continued to collaborate with unique artists, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a wild dancefloor vibe. One of these collaborations was with producer Kevin Martin, also known as the Bug, who was drawn to Veira’s vocal style. Together, they have created some of the loudest and most energetically charged music heard in clubs. Veira expresses that due to his age, he did not have the chance to experience sound system culture, but working with Kevin has shown him the impact of creating a powerful sound that moves people. As the lead vocalist, Veira takes pride in controlling the bass, vibrations, and audience.
Their most praised song is Skeng from 2008, which was created during their third recording session together. Veira shares that he was originally planning to leave the studio, but Kevin convinced him to stay and work on the track. Despite not wanting to be there, Veira admits he was being stubborn and only used a minimal style, trying to get away with one word per line. Ironically, this laid-back approach is what gives Skeng its raw and menacing power. Veira acknowledges that Kevin gave him the chance to express himself authentically. Although their audiences may come from different worlds, they were all striving to capture the same energy.
In the end, it is his ability to create chaos within a crowd that has allowed Veira to remain relevant in a field dominated by young individuals. He no longer identifies himself solely as a grime artist, rapper, or drum’n’bass MC. Instead, he proudly proclaims himself as the ultimate UK vocalist, albeit with a teasing undertone. With plans for a tour in the US, Veira’s uniquely British vocal style will now reach a global audience. Despite the ups and downs of the UK music scene, Veira finds it continuously exhilarating and remains dedicated to his craft, celebrating each moment he steps on stage.