Sunday, May 18, 2008

He’s Just A Rascal

I first heard British Rapper Dizzee Rascal on the Basement Jaxx’s “Lucky Star” in 2003. I found his hiccupy flow kind of irritating, but was eventually coerced into buying his debut, Boy In Da Corner, when it received obsequious praise from the critics. Dizzee was part of the grime movement, which was basically London gangsta rap over garage beats. It combined hard-hitting rhymes with hard-hitting beats that were more techno than hip hop. Grime is thus named because it is so dirty and grimey sounding.

Boy In Da Corner is a good album, and it has some great tracks on it. Dizzee offers up a sound that is totally unique and unlike American hip hop, while still being true to the spirit of hip hop. His beats are punishing, and his aggressive but staccato flow is lethal. Unfortunately, he is also kind of difficult to listen to for long periods of time precisely because he is so punishing. I’ve never listened to Boy In Da Corner in it’s entirety. 2-3 track of Dizzee is thrilling, 14-16 tracks is annoying.

I didn’t really hear his follow up, Showtime, and when Maths and English was released as a download-only last year, I took a pass. However, when Def Jux re-released it on April 29, I decided to support Dizzee and the label and bought it. As with his debut, there are some brilliant moments on this disc, particularly “Where Da G’s,” featuring Texas duo UGK rapping “Dizze Ras’ and UGK/You know we stay connected/ Trill recognizes Trill.” The track has a whining synth mixed with Dizzee’s signature garage thwump, and like several other tracks on the disc (“Wanna Be,” “G.H.E.T.T.O.”), “Where Da G’s” asserts Dizzee’s street cred while calling out phony gangstas. “What’s with all the fake aggression?” Dizze asks. “I can see that it’s not true/I know killers/ I know gangsters/ and they never heard of you.” “Wanna Be” features a chorus by Lilly Allen, which is pretty awesome. Another brilliant track is “Driving With No Where to Go,” which has a Kraftwerk-like beat. Lyrically, Dizzee deals with staying trill, being paranoid, and basically dealing with the drama of fame. He also gets a little light-hearted at points, but for the most part this is a pretty tough disc. So tough, in fact, that I can’t really listen to the whole thing all in one sitting, and several of the tracks (“Sirens,” Suck My Dick”) must make me feel old. Still, it’s worth listening to, even if it doesn’t come with "Pussy’ole", the best track off of the UK version. I’m pretty sure there were licensing/sampling issues, because the only version I can find is a remix riffing off Rob Base’s “It Takes 2.”

No comments:

Blog Archive