Dizzee Rascal: Boy In Da Corner

Dizzee Rascal
Boy in da Corner

Dizzee Rascal's first full-length Boy in da Corner was winning awards and accolades throughout the UK last year, so Matador Records wisely snagged the license from their sister label XL Recordings for release in the States. This East Londoner's debut is a unique and genre-blurring album, impressive work for a nineteen year old. Dizzee's jagged ice-cold beats draw from drum and bass, garage, and hip-hop while the staccato samples sound like they've been run through an aluminum recycling plant. The production is chaotic and disorienting in the openers "Sittin' Here" and "I Luv U." Just as you get acclimated to this alienating and stark color, the album veers into the wide-open stadium rock loop that is the backbone of the anthem "Fix Up, Look Sharp." Then the album returns to the jabbing beats and darting samples.

Boy in da Corner's bi-polar production creates the ideal backdrop for the lyrics of a self-proclaimed introvert whose street-tough cryptic slang drips with his East London upbringing. Lyrics and their delivery make or break hip-hop albums, and Dizzee's precise Cockney is captivating. You can further argue that the secret of true hip-hop legends is to introduce themselves as compelling characters and then tell stories that relate to the audience. He does both as he explains a typical day saying, "it's the same old story, shutters, runners, cats and money stacksĂ– ninja bikes, gun fights and scary nightsĂ– window tints and gloves for finger prints." His persona is furthered by the constant flow of cryptic slang with lines like "chung intelligent yaps in hospie flats" barked in a thick English accent. Dizzee Rascal starts losing his uniqueness when he falls in the rap trap of constant self-congratulation, like in the song "Jus' a Rascal," where he gloats "I'm gonna search for big money stacks, top tens and platinum whacks." Is there any rapper who hasn't put a line like this in a track? It's when Dizzee gets obtuse that he's most effective, and overall this album is a puzzling success.

Justin G. Sinkovich

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