By Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)
The career of Dizzee Rascal is a unique story. When he was just 19 he released Boy In Da Corner, which instantly became a classic, simultaneously putting grime on the map and solidifying himself as the most exciting talent working in music at the time. Boy In Da Corner was the perfect debut and, 14 years on, it still stands as the pinnacle of what grime can be.
It made Dizzee a star, earning him the Mercury Prize but as Dizzee‘s career progressed, grime as a genre failed to follow and by his fourth album he had adopted the company of heavyweights such as Calvin Harris and, in a way, it paid off, giving him four number one singles and further fame. Being as talented as he is, this stage in his career was actually better than most similar music at the time, but perhaps led him with little space to grow and this showed on his lacklustre fifth album, aptly titled The Fifth. Whilst Dizzee faded into irrelevancy, grime was making a huge comeback, presumably reminding him of what he is best at.
Regardless of his rollercoaster career, it has all led to Dizzee Rascal’s latest album Raskit. A return to grime was a risk he had to make but would either prove he is still the best grime has to offer or that the genre he had revitalised had outgrown him. Thankfully Raskit leans decisively towards the former outcome.
Not a Jessie J collaboration in sight, or any feature for that matter, Raskit showcases everything Dizzee Rascal needed to prove, both to his critics and to himself. Unlike on his debut, most of the beats are basic, allowing Dizzee‘s vocals and lyrics to stand out which would have left him vulnerable if he still wasn’t able to write witty, hard-hitting rhymes which some might have assumed given his time away from grime. However, if anything his lyrics in particular might have even improved from Boy In Da Corner. Whether he is rapping about his return to grime in Space or gunning for his rivals in The Other Side, Dizzee sounds fresh and hungry defending his name every way he can.
Sceptics may have thought Dizzee was only returning to grime because it has regained some momentum thanks to the likes of Skepta and Stormzy, and while that may be true to a certain extent, the point he makes repeatedly on this album is that he has the right simply because he is good enough, and it’s hard to argue. Where the argument falls down that he abandoned grime is that most of his contemporaries tried to replicate his success with a more mainstream sound but only Dizzee really succeeded. Dizzee Rascal has always been one step ahead until now and the one time he found himself behind everyone else, he has caught up by proving he can compete with grime’s biggest artists. Raskit has a few filler tracks but at 16 tracks, it manages to prove he has plenty to offer rather than a half arsed attempt at returning to grime that wouldn’t have been as convincing.
At its core, Raskit is essentially a statement that Dizzee Rascal can still create a competitive grime album and write clever lines, delivering them with conviction. Dizzee Rascal is versatile with fierce tracks such as Space to light and playful tracks such as She Knows What She Wants showing he has the talent that he had in 2003. Although a few tracks fade into the background and the production lacks some creativity compared to his debut, Dizzee Rascal did what he needed to do lyrically and firmly announces that he is still relevant.