MY FRIENDS ELECTRIC (5)

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Tuesday is normally the day that you come here and find a guest posting from S-WC. Today is only slightly different as it’s a lift from his brand new blog, When You Can’t Remember, which in just a few short weeks has already given t’internet a much-needed shot in the arm (not that I’m suggesting t’internet is a needy junkie…..)

The blog has a number of wry and humourous series underway – including the highly original ‘Tim Badger’s Animal Collective’ which looks at whether the band or the animal.creature the band is named after is more interesting….

Today’s steal is from the series ‘Forty Albums YOU need to hear before I am 40:-

Number 38 – ‘The Boy in Da Corner’ – Dizzee Rascal

Yeah, Dizzee Rascal, shut up. Before ‘Bonkers’ and all the chart topping stuff that you all secretly pretend to dislike, Dizzee Rascal released three albums of top drawer uk grime hip hop. The best being this one, his debut record. As I have said before this list isn’t about the best records ever made, its about records you should listen to and appreciate for their brilliant qualities. Records that have had an impact on my life and probably should on yours. Without Dizzee Rascal and in particular this record I would have never listened to Plan B, Roots Manuva, and countless other brilliant acts from the UK’s blossoming grime scene (at the time, anyway).

When this came out, Dizzee Rascal was 18 years old (and remember what I said about teenagers making music) and he instantly staked a claim that East London is hip-hop’s next great international outpost. Yup East London. For years the UK hip hop scene was ridiculed for basically copying the American one, but when this came out, we had something new. They called it grime, but in effect what you had was disillusioned UK (black and white) youths rapping about their surroundings and this time it rang home with millions of people in similar surroundings. Dizzee led the way talking about his youth in Bow, East London, his words reflecting the social and political landscape – he famously says on one of the tracks that ‘he is a problem for Anthony Blair’. It was this, the lyrical delivery and gutter beats that accompanied it that dragged UK hip away from the money, cash, hoes nonsense we saw before.

Opening track ‘Sittin Here’ sees Dizzee setting the scene talking about being weak, because his thoughts are too strong, this as an ambient sound of guns and police sirens just edges into the background. There is a strong craving for innocence crossing the whole album, which is easy to see when he is talking about teenage pregnancy, police brutality and losing friends to the insane gang culture that he was caught up in. By the end of the track he is saying ‘I’ll probably be doing this, probably forever’ that there is as decent a statement about a musical ambition as you will ever hear.

MP3: ‘Sittin Here’ – Dizzee Rascal

Of course there are tracks about girls, but instead of a bragging know-it-all swagger he approaches the topic with caution, using female rappers on tracks like ‘Wot U On’ who tells him ‘Love talks to everyone, money talks more’. Whilst ‘Jezabel’ deals with promiscuity in a manner which only Dizzee knows how. Dizzee’s debut single ‘I Luv U’ was recorded when he was 16 (16!) which again sees the use of a female MC – and it is pretty much an argument rapped out before your ears, an argument accompanied by bleeps, blips and a bass so deep you could abseil into it, lyrically it is astounding, remember folks, he was 16, “Pregnant/ Whatya talkin’ about?/ 15?/ She’s underage/ That’s raw/ And against the law/ Five years or more”. If there is a better more captivating moment in the last fifteen years of rap music anywhere in the world, I’d like to hear it.

MP3: ‘I Luv U’ – Dizzee Rascal

I’ll admit this now, I love rap music, I love it more when it makes people sit and listen to what it is actually saying. When this first came out, people laughed at me for championing it, saying it was sexist, gun worshipping rubbish, they hadn’t actually listened to it. It won the Mercury Music Prize about six months later and suddenly people were listening, a few years later UK Rap and Grime Music was more popular than ever, admittedly it has disappeared up it own backside a bit since 2006 but at the front of the scene when it mattered was Dizzee Rascal. This is an incredible record one which I urge you all to buy and listen to. To add weight to it is also helped me in my quest to learn to ski, that is another story for another time but I will end by saying that Dizzee Rascal is perhaps this generations Morrissey. Go on, buy it, see for yourself.

MP3: ‘Fix Up Look Sharp – Dizzee Rascal

JC adds:-

I also recall the first time I heard and saw Dizzee Rascal and being blown away by his talent. I’ve not got a great deal of rap in the collection but The Boy In Da Corner has a place and my views on it mirror those of S-WC…..although maybe not quote to the extent that he is this generations Morrissey. I think that accolade has to sit with Justin Beiber….always finding new ways to embarrass his millions of fans who nevertheless stand by their man.

More Friends Electric tomorrow