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At times it lives up to the extravagant praise many have already bestowed upon it. "I Luv U", the nagging single, is brilliantly conceived--boy and girl talking about one another without hearing, a perfect encapsulation of how disconnection is the norm, even if you've got two mobiles, a pager and an e-mail address. "Fix Up, Look Sharp", sampled from Billy Squier's 1980 rock classic "Big Beat", is as near as the record comes to straightforward rap, its joyous flavour provides a much needed moment of uplift to what is an often brilliant but densely oppressive album. --Angus Batey
Boy in Da Corner serves as a stark reminder that 21st century teenage life is a million light years away from the happy-clappy optimism that marked previous generations.
Musically, the Mercury Award nominee must be applauded for treading new territory. Ornament breaking bass thuds, quickly syncopated guitar notes and pained synthesizers generate a sound that is cold, unfeeling, regimented and confusingly noisy. This echos the mind-state of the embattled author.
For instance, the dry humour inherent in the ironically titled "I Luv U" coats a sheer blanket over the tragedy that operates under the guise of teenage romance. "Pregnant, 15 underage thats raw. But its your own fault you said the three magic words (I luv U), its a shame the kid probably aint yours". Similarly "Jezebel" as the title suggests further points the finger towards immoral young females who intentionally impregnate for entrapment and frequently commit adultery. The sarcasm coupled with tough beats lets the girls know that this is locker room/barbershop talk first and foremost.
Although a few tracks fall predictably into the stereotypical notion of young, troubled inner city male, Dizzee escapes the typical through his reflective and insightful musings. "Brand New Day", the most chart-friendly song on the CD finds the young scriber tackling the dichotomy between reality and desire. The light tickle of Oriental instruments and optimistic chorus lends subtleness to an otherwise cynical track.
Boy in da Corner encompasses everything that is exciting about British music past and present. Rascal's two-fingered salute to the monarchy is reminiscent of the stir caused by the Sex Pistols, whilst the sexual debauchery mimic's the rawness of early Rolling Stones. All this plus a musical palate of bhangra, old skool hip hop breaks and garage will ensure that this East End boy will become a star far beyond the sounds of Bow Bells. --Keysha Davis
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This is a far darker proposition than ‘Original Pirate Material’ though. Dizzee sees himself as an outsider; the opening track makes this abundantly clear. On the opening line of the opening track, ‘Sittin Here’ Dizzee tells us, “I’m sitting here, I ain’t saying much, I just think / and my eyes don’t move left or right, they just blink.” For 18 years, Mills sounds remarkably mature, and sounds almost like an elder statesman of the streets when he whispers memories of playing football in the streets, before he yields to the feeling that there will be, “no positive change.” This feeling of hopelessness rears its ugly head again on ‘Brand New Day’. Over a dizzying wind chime sample, Dizzee reminisces, “We used to fight with kids from other estates / now eight millimetres settle debates.”
Though just shy of an hour in length, Dizzee manages to cram in a huge assortment of topics.Read more ›
Boy In Da Corner, from start to finish, is a great example of how the British music industry is evolving. the only question left is, how is Dizzee Rascal going to top this nex time round?