Ayo Jegede
reviews editor
February 06, 2004
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Dizzee Rascal
Boy in Da Corner

"To be honest, this whole scene is Hip Hop. It comes from the underground, from the pirates, people making their own beats. The Garage tempo; it's the true Hip Hop of England ... this is what real street kids are doing."
--Dizzee Rascal during a BBCi interview

hip-hop's global exportation from the states has yielded few notable artists. granted such exportation is usually taken in as a different mode to express a culture that's already foreign to us, the universality which made the genre popular is stymied precisely by radically different cultural and environmental experiences or returns anemic simulacra of played-out rap antics (a la j-rap). but a certain sector of Europe took hip-hop and adapted it to their environment while still preserving universality. arguably beginning with the commercial success of musicians like Craig David, the symbol of British hip-hop and R & B was 2-Step Garage. as communicated by David, 2-Step Garage was just as palatable and enchanting as standard R & B and he accordingly rode it into success across the pond. but for others such as Roots Manuva and The Streets, 2-Step Garage wasn't simply a means of grafting American-made rhymes with exotic european beats, but a means of communicating a culture without compromise and without insincerities. one of the strongest and most precocious members of the now booming "Brit rap" movement is Dizzee Rascal.

penning most of Boy in Da Corner's songs when he was only 16, Rascal rhymes with radical assuredness as though communicating his experiences was absolutely exigent. this is what separates Rascal from American counterparts. for the most part, hip-hop artists--save, maybe, for the underground--are exhausted. having been accepted by mainstream circuits, their only goal now is to recreate a mood or feeling that sells units rather than finding a detailed way of expressing a culture seldom aired. much of Rascal's flair and queer vocal nuances can be attributed to a removal of restraints. he spits without any care for awkwardness and makes beats that are assaults on pampered ears. but this is all part of describing 2-Step, a genre closely associated with street life in London. the centerpiece of the album, 'Fix Up, Look Sharp,' perfectly displays the current running through the rest of the album. from the entangled tales of love and sex on 'I Luv U' to the flagship bragging hip-hop is universally known for on 'Jus a Rascal,' Rascal's attitude, talent, and performance are almost unmatched.

though he grew up listening to Jay-Z and 2Pac, the style he fathomed is his own. a style so laudable that it earned Boy in Da Corner a 2003 Mercury Prize.

Release date: January 20, 2004
Label: Matador
Rating: 10.0 / 10