It's nearly been 10 years since Dizzee Rascal burst on to the scene and his newer material is being met with grim faces and even grimmer comments from his fans. His own style of pop with an urban twist, aided by production from some of the biggest DJs and producers around at the moment, comes as a stark contrast to this gritty, discomforting debut which originally propelled Dizzee and the entire grime genre into the limelight.
The urban scene of the UK has changed massively in the UK, and the music has too. It is rare to hear such an edgy commentary of council estate life and times from an artist with unashamedly brazen stories of violence, crime and sex. It's easy to dismiss these topics as the vile thoughts of an out-of-sync teen but you would be dismissing these at your own peril. The early grime painted a clear picture of the social issues in those times and Boy In Da Corner steps out farther than most by covering a wide spectrum viewed through youthful eyes. But it's not only the lyrics but also the production that make sure that you can never sit comfortably in your seat when you're listening to this.
It's the fact that what you're listening to is real, true and still happening that sends tingles down your spine and encourage you to listen on. Despite the social changes we've seen and the changes in the type of music we're now seeing coming from the same sort of areas Dizzee grew up in, this album still acts as an accurate periscope, peering over the wall into a way of life that has very much been swept under the rug and out of view by society.
Anytime an album like ‘Boy In Da Corner’ arrives it seems to cause no end of consternation amongst the music press. Always happy to pigeonhole artists for the sake of marketing, hacks seem to struggle when credible UK ‘urban’ music arrives. It happened with The Streets and now Dizzee Rascal looks set to suffer the same ‘Garage’ tag. Make no mistake; this is no garage album (whatever that means anyway). Like Mike Skinner before him, 18-year-old Dylan Mills has taken the basics of a genre that is currently laying face down in the water and transformed it into something far, far more intriguing. Where Skinner took games of darts and the midnight munchies as his inspiration so Mills takes estate violence and teenage pregnancies as his. 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. Besides the tales of catching and delivering beatings, the inflammatory single ‘I Luv U’ is a breathtaking synopsis of a young couples and teenage pregnancies (“Fifteen? She's underage!). This theme is revisited on ‘Round We Go’ – a tale of an endless cycle of loveless sex told by a narrator who has learned his lesson. Elsewhere ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’ with its pounding drum, Billy Squier sample and eardrum-destroying bassline is an immense proposition. Dizzee sounds almost demented as he spits the lyrics. It isn’t the only track that defies sonic definition. ‘Jus A Rascal’ has the most bizarre operatic chorus ever heard, which is totally at odds with the light speed rhymes Dizzee spits on the verses. Apologies for the seemingly constant Streets comparisons, but ‘Original Pirate Material’ and ‘Boy In Da Corner’ share the fact that they are the two best albums to come out of the UK in a long, long time. With ‘Boy In Da Corner’, Dizzee Rascal has joint the likes of The Streets and Roots Manuva as urban British artists with something interesting to say, besides American hip hop cliché. So what is it? Garage? Hip Hop? Whatever genre you choose to pigeonhole this album in, I’ll choose to call it one of the best albums of the year.
When I first heard the name Dizzee Rascal, i believed it would be the name of a musical disaster! After hearing 'I Luv U' almost a year ago, I was completely blown away. On his debut LP, Dizzee Rascal 'spits' his hard,and raw lyrics over standard uk garage beats, and the mixture fits together well. His style is very unique, as i have never heard anyone use a squeaky teenage voice to describe such real to life situations. "If that girl know where u stay that's poor/Some wh**e bangin on your door, wot for?/Pregnant? Wot you talkin bout? Be sure/ 15 she's underage that's raw!" -I Luv U 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?
As a huge garage lover since about 1995 I've seen the scene change forbetter and worse. This change to a so called 'grimey garage'had thepotential to kill off what was fast becoming a commercial scene. As alover of hip hop as well I've found parallels between the two scenes andthat parallel is Dizzee Rascal. It's not hip hop and not garage but thegreat thing about garage is it's not a genre it's sub sections inside agenre best summed up by Wiley in his track 'what do u call it'. This albumis fantastic, sometimes very simple but creative and I think a lot ofAmercians have started to over complicate their music and their lyricshave become predictable as in they're from the ghetto etc. We know thatbut what dizzee does here is not tell people of his background but roleplays with situations that make you realise where he's from. I was bornand lived in the East End (Bow) and this sound is the London sound, the UKsound that is unique. Dizzee's work shows flair and genius, his word playand beats all compliment each other. 'I luv u' shows awareness ofsituation and a word play that is ingenius. The album is entertaining,thoughtful and his style and he will be huge in the US because they arecrying out for a change, whereas here we are always changing and dizzee isthe forerunner. What do you call it? I call it Dizzee.
Dizzee Rascal to those intrested in the largely underground UK garage scene is already been tipped as the future. He has the expectations of thousands on his young shoulders. Dizzee's vocal style is a removed version of Jamaican toasting, the result of a journey through the UK's own rap history and, most significantly, the rave scene's trajectory through hardcore to drum 'n' bass and UK Garage.The album, which was recorded over the last two years, maps out Dizzee's rites of passage from boyhood to, albeit young, manhood. And the lyrics, as the album title spells out, are speckled with the kind of things a boy who's working things out for himself is likely to have going through his head. The result is we get an insight into a many sided person, rather than a one dimensional pop personality. The thinking-out-loud observations are sometimes sensitive, sometimes brutal, sometimes funny, sometimes cliche and sometimes pensive. On 'Brand New Day' a mournful Dizzee laments the rise of violence in his neighbourhood, while on 'Jus A Rascal' he reveals a playful humour. On 'Jezebel' he recounts an anti-single motherhood moral tale that sits somewhat self-righteously next to 'Cut 'em Off', in which he declares himself "your worst nightmare" before spelling out his quest for domination via postured MC bravado. But elsewhere we find vulnerability: "Sometimes I feel there's not a lot to smile about so I frown...sleep tight, everything will be all right, at the end of the night will be the day, just pray that you see it." The message may be contradictory, but the intention is descriptive rather than prescriptive and reflects Dizzee's desire to create a balance between the positive and negative. Musically 'Boy In Da Corner' fits into the break beat school of UK garage - although it's strongly influenced by the genres rave roots. Like a darker, harder version of Roots Manuva's twisted take on hip hop, Dizzee takes techno and dancehall inspirations to a new, raw and energised level. According to Dizzee, if he hadn't got into music he would have been drawn into crime - we can thank his music teacher, Mr Smith, formerly of Langden Park school, for encouraging Dizzee to develop his musical talent. And there is probably a message for all of us there. But one thing's for sure, Dizzee Rascal is out of the corner and on a roll.
“I stay sweet as a nut, sweet like Tropicana; bring out my hammer smash ya head like banana.” Let’s stay positive to begin with. Before us stands a 19 year old East London lyric spitter by the name of Dylan “Dizzie Rascal” Mills. He’s produced – literally – an album of menacing, innovative and at times overwhelming noise. It relentlessly bombards as a vivid piece of social commentary confronting familiar societal issues, which range from ambition, girls to money and family. It’s a frank and frantic walk through the streets of Dizzie and his mind. Take cover as a cacophony of bleeps, crashes, voices and rhythms disorientate you. From the harrowing introductory frustration or self-doubt of ‘Sittin’ Here’ through to the perpetual traffic jam of ‘Stop Dat’, the album takes on a certain shape, though at times a rather unsettling one. Schizophrenically hot-stepping between cutting edge garage and hip-hop rooted rhymes and statement, originality is assured. Undoubtedly the crowd pleaser to gee up the most muted of masses, is straight up beat dropper ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp.’ Ingeniously sampling classic rocker ‘The Big Beat’ by Billy Squire, Dizzie stays true to his grammar – much like on the whole album - amidst a hail of enthusiastic ‘whoooooos’. Elsewhere the catchy operatic pronouncement of ‘Jus’ A Rascal’ promises to win over a few listeners by sheer brainwashing if anything. The above tracks apart, the rest of the album lacks the clarity and channelled assertiveness necessary to make you want to play it over and over again. This should nonetheless do little to tarnish the album as an important and impressive body of work from a regular 19 year old street dreamer, a statement of how it is and most definitely how it could be. It is particularly poignant that the album opens on a confessional complaint but finishes resoundingly on the positive and determined ‘Do It’. The fact that this album captured the Mercury Music Prize, serves both to please and infuriate in equal measure. Voices within dependent upon melody, solid instrumentation and a little song structure scoff at the idea of this being the best album of the year. Conversely at a time of misunderstood black culture and not ‘So Solid’ truth telling, it may just be the most important. Unprecedented exposure has resulted. He’s recently collaborated with dance music’s Brixton rooted bad boys Basement Jaxx. Much like the Streets’ offering last year, this will be name checked and sought out as THE slice of raw underground pirate radio culture commentary. Admirable values permeate this album; it’s reassuringly original and undeniably British. ‘It’s now or never’ for this rascal and he’s making it. Roll deep if you please.
Dizze rascal has done well not to follow the lead of other acts like Big Brovaz and misteeq, who attempt to sound like their AMerican counter-parts on their records. The production on 'Boy in Da Corner' is raw and stripped down, a far cry from the generic sounding hip hop garage beats we have become all too familiar with in recent years. The great thing about this album is that you cannot classify under one genre of music, its not garage not hip hop. The sound is undoubtedly ground-breaking, like nothing I've heard before. Dizzee mcs on all the album tracks with 2 guests and produces most of the tracks. 'Boy in Da corner' has the edge and rebellion of a punk album. the difference is that it is the sound of the UK in 2003 not in the 1970s. The standout tracks for me are 'cut'em off' and 'round we go'. On these tracks dizzee expresses his mistrust of the people around him. On 'round we go' he describes what he thinks of teenage love- he doesnt think it exists. He says 'aint no love ting here, just 1 big cycle here' Every track on this album is a gem. This cd comes highly recommended, the most original UK artist to emerge for a long time.
This album is one that I will gladly label as a personal favourite, and I'd probably throw the term classic in there as well. It is fresh, it is unique and it is real. The songs are easy on the ear but if you listen more closely the lyrics are witty and a smart commentary on various aspects of modern life. Dizzee's style is diverse and interesting throughout the whole album, and it appeals to almost anyone that might happen to hear it. Seeing a club full of goths throwing shapes to the sounds of 'Fix up look sharp' is a sight to behold, trust me!