A Life Of Grime
Dizzee Rascal could easily play the ‘Baaad Bwoy’ card… but being taken seriously as a musician is far more important as Gal Detourn, who met the Bow born MC and producer at XL’s West London office, discovered when speaking to him recently about his latest album, Showtime.
Dizzee Rascal is tired of journalists seeking the gory details of last years multiple stabbing incident in Ayia Napa, or indeed, his many youthful misdemeanors. He wants to talk about the follow up to last years Mercury Music Award winning ‘Boy In Da Corner’. Hence, without warning he lifts his shirt to expose the wounds. It’s a gruesome sight.
“I just want to get on with life” he declares. “It’s done. What’s the point in bitching about it? It’s there. What I’m more interested in is being an artist… I think my music is strong enough to sell on it’s own.”
At nineteen, Dizzee is balanced somewhere between adolescence and full adult maturity. However, intellectually, he’s transcended his trouble making East London beginnings. Dizzee’s tale is one of school expulsions, scraps, thug mentality, and eventualy salvation through music. But all that’s eons ago, and the Dizzee that’s sat before me seems vaguely embarrassed by it all, frankly he’s tired of being reminded of what he did as a child. He wants to talk about the innovative, rib rattling urban brew that is Showtime.“Sonically I wanted it to sound bigger,” he enthuses. “Bigger sounding, more impact, harder hitting, without making it too polished. It shows the transition from underground to mainstream, but still not compromising. It’s just showing other areas that I’m capable of doing.”
It certainly does. Dizzee may have sprung from the Garage offshoot that is the ‘Grime’ scene, but his style leaps beyond strict boundaries. Showtime motors through glitchy twists, oriental fuelled minimalism, off kilter Moroccan flavours, pastoral electronica, and above all, resolute rumbles crafted into sharp urban nuggets. It’s an offbeat style that perfectly compliments his excitable yet controlled, quick-fire wordplay contortions.
“I find it more interesting,” he explains, “cos playing beats, there’s only so much you can do, but when you offbeat it, it gives it more dimension from a delivery perspective.” .
Dizzee has an open musical mind that eschews the rules of ghetto scenesters. Who would of thought for example, that one of his favourite albums was Nirvana’s In Utero?
“For me it was more about the affect they were having,” he explains. “I saw the video, and they were different, like they had long hair and were head banging an’ all that. The energy it was giving… I felt that I was liking it, but it was something I wouldn’t be expected to listen to… I would have loved to have seen them man.”
However, he’s not forgotten the scene that enabled him to cut his teeth. “It’s council estate state of bass” he declares, explaining the Grime creed. “It’s another reflection of the city. It’s just as important as any other type of music or small subculture that’s around. It’s really reflective of the UK. In that sense it’s good. It’s individual to the UK.”
Undoubtedly, Dizzee’s sound is influenced by the gritty, urban environment that’s characterised the majority of his existence. However, with a Mercury Music Award and chart success under his belt, life’s looking rosier. So will he become musically emasculated if he becomes removed from the anger and the feelings that originally drove him to express himself?
“It’s more about the outlook,” he counters. “That environment has given me an outlook, so if by chance the environment becomes distant, then I’ve got the outlook and I’ll find a way to make it interesting. It’s about my artform. It not about where you’re from it’s about where you’re at. Like Jay-Z said. It’s true. Where you’re from is individual to you as a person, but someone outside might not necessarily give a shit about that, but they might like your song because of how you did it, and how you went about it. In the field I’m in, that’s what’s important.”
Yep, deep down he’s as much of a muso as any folkster, lanky haired indie kid, chin stroking jazz head or knob twiddling sonic adventurer. No doubt about it.
“What I’m more interested in is being an artist,” he asserts, “and the fact that people around the world are feeling my music… I’d rather dwell on that man.”
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