Dizzee Rascal - Showtime
UK Release Date:

6 September 2004

Track Listing:

1. Showtime
2. Stand Up Tall
3. Everywhere
4. Graftin'
5. Learn
6. Hype Talk
7. Face
8. Respect Me
9. Get By
10. Knock Knock
11. Dream
12. Girls feat Marga Man
13. Imagine
14. Flyin'
15. Fickle

Dizzee Rascal - Showtime (XL Recordings)
•• Published: SoundsXP, October 2004
Original article: http://www.soundsxp.com/1199.shtml

Showtime may come just as the Mercury Music baton leaves Dizzee Rascal's fierce grip to be passed into the sequinned disco-rock glove of Franz Ferdinand but his grasp on stripped down, garage-flecked backchat streetbeats remains just as strong as ever. The fact the Bow-based Rascal is already releasing the follow-up to ‘Boy In Da Corner’ makes it seem he is bursting with ideas but this lesson in sparse minimalism is so bare and simple musically that you cannot help thinking it could be mass-produced at a frightening rate.

The basic beats and at times flimsy keyboard noises do still manage to maintain a grimy paranoid edginess but focussing on the music alone is missing the point, it is the 19-year-old’s rapid-fire, attitude-riddled tirades that really shout for attention. Following the autobiographical title track opener, the top-ten-cracking 'Stand Up Tall' squeals its way into view with its Nintendo bleeps and deep bass bounce overlaid with Dizzee's call to the UK to pull their socks up and be counted.

While this a simplistic but perky smile-raiser, 'Everywhere' sees the Londoner's anger unleashed for the first time with claims of omnipotence ("I'm here, there, I'm everywhere, I can't be seen. I'm all over ya-na-a-mean") and threats to anyone who dares take his name in vain. This is still laced with humour though, "I ain't mad, I'm a lovely lad, I'll give you the loveliest beating that you ever had", which adds a much needed light edge to the oppressive gloom.

Threats of violence, constant demands for respect and tales from the wrong side of the track are all well-trodden lyrical paths in rap but Dizzee Rascal (aka Dylan Mills) just manages to avoid cliché, sprinkling in some Eminem-style self-awareness of the fame game he finds himself shoe-horned into. While Mills raps are entertaining and, at times, exhilarating, the sparse, bleak backing proves an exhausting weight to bear before too long, so the soulful vocals of 'Get By' come as a great relief. Though nothing quite prepares you for the pleasant shock of 'Dream' where Captain Sensible's 'Happy Talk' is sampled to frightening effect creating the backdrop to an inspiring pep-talk and thankyou to fans.

Aside from this any semblance of a tune or melody is hard to come by in Dizzee's dark, dangerous musical meanstreets, the duet with Marga Man and his cartoon rapping on 'Girls' a ragga-beated squeak and little else, 'Imagine', however, has a depth not found anywhere else on the album. Here light strings and an uplifting fluted electronic hook create a sweet synthesised soundtrack to Dizzee's dilemma of choosing between his aspirations and ambitions and remaining true to his roots: "Imagine if one day I showed you one day I was leaving the 'hood would you call me a sell out?".

Whether you see him as an urban poet or just an angry, angsty motormouth, do not expect Dizzee Rascal to disappear anytime soon. As he says on album closer, 'Fickle', "I've got so much to say in so little time", so you can expect his prolific output of minimal madness to continue apace whether you like it or not.

- Ian Roullier

Copyright © Ian Roullier 2004-2014