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Dizzee Rascal - Raskit (Album Review)

Monday, 24 July 2017 Written by Jacob Brookman

Sometime in the last century, Louis Armstrong was asked by a journalist whether he felt threatened by newcomers aping his musical style. The jazz pioneer responded: “A lotta cats copy the Mona Lisa, but people still line up to see the original.”

While you wouldn’t accuse Skepta or Stormzy of copying Dizzee Rascal, he was certainly the first artist to establish grime as a mainstream concern with his 2003 Mercury Prize-winning debut, ‘Boy in Da Corner’. And its re-emergence as an incredibly fertile (and bankable) genre has led to ‘Raskit’ - Dizzee’s sixth album - doubling down on cheap ‘n’ nasty 808 grooves and sinister 8-bit synth arrangements.

The result is an album of focused, compelling, urgent music, and one that pushes Dizzee’s most enduring talent - his lyrical flow - to the front and centre. This is demonstrated most effectively on album opener, Focus (“I ain’t stush / Let’s focus on my mush”) and on the the singles Space and Wot U Gonna Do?.

The latter song contains some of the best production the genre offers, with thick detuned bass sounds interfering with machine gun vocals and menacing MIDI strings.

There’s also the manner in which the reverb is handled, with chimes echoing spaciously before giving way to dry, velcro synth bass. The video superbly matches the aesthetic: brutal, synthetic and incredibly inventive.

Much of Dizzee’s lyrical skill comes from his capacity to convey humility and humour in stridently aggressive music and make It Last is another absolute banger. Solid gold grime, it tells the story of a teenage Dizzee on a night out at the Stratford Rex - a nightclub that was plagued by gun violence before its closure.

The young man he describes here is absolutely terrified. “All I see are shooters, it’s gonna be a mess,” he says. And yet a minute later, he’s curving the pronunciation of “make it laaaaast”’ hilariously, as though he's channelling Kenneth Williams.

The album also switches tone ably. Slow Your Roll is a reflective track, detailing the gentrification of his neighbourhood following the London 2012 Olympics: “Developers rocked up… / The ends got boxed up / Then the price got knocked up.” Meanwhile, Sick A Dis is a brilliantly irritable track, all itchy swearing and beef-settling scorn: “Sick a forced banter / Sick a being nice when I think you’re a complete wanker.”

Lip service is also paid to his highest selling works in the form of closer, Man of the Hour. It’s a casual summer groove that could easily appear on his collab-laden mainstream albums, but it never undermines the record’s credibility. If there is a criticism, it’s that - at 16 tracks - ‘Raskit’ might be a little long. But there really isn’t any obvious filler here, just an hour of exhilarating flow from one of the best in the business.

Dizzee Rascal Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon October 02 2017 - LIVERPOOL O2 Academy Liverpool
Tue October 03 2017 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Thu October 05 2017 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Fri October 06 2017 - SHEFFIELD O2 Academy Sheffield
Sat October 07 2017 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Mon October 09 2017 - NORWICH Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA
Thu October 12 2017 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Fri October 13 2017 - CAMBRIDGE Corn Exchange
Sat October 14 2017 - MANCHESTER Academy
Mon October 16 2017 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Tue October 17 2017 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Thu October 19 2017 - SOUTHEND Cliffs Pavilion
Fri October 20 2017 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Sat October 21 2017 - BRIGHTON Brighton Dome

Click here to compare & buy Dizzee Rascal Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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