Reviewed by Marc Savlov, Fri., Sept. 10, 2004
Dizzee RascalShowtime (XL) It's a great time to be an epileptic, especially if you're in the UK, where you can bask (uh, twitch) in the stuttery morass of South London's grime scene. Merging spastic beats and computerized blunders into a sonic stew, scene gunfighters So Solid Crew and 2003 Mercury Award winner Dizzee Rascal have a field day rapping with eloquent abandon. With the mainstream success of Dizz and Mike Skinner's Streets, Brit-hop has finally eclipsed its Yank counterparts. Let's see Jay-Z or Eminem come up with anything as shockingly original as Showtime's "Stand Up Tall," in which Rascal employs his bombastic voice, half yelp, half sneer, over a Kraftwerkian Casio blaze that's as foreign to U.S. hip-hop now as Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet was to Brits back in the day. Rascal's strength on his debut Boy in Da Corner rests with his seemingly inexhaustible lung power; he can jam in full, albeit syntactically concussed, paragraphs where other MCs can only manage mere sentence fragments. With Showtime, the very idea of diagramming a single line is enough to cause black wormholes to open in the listener's mind quantum physics by way of South London slang. Amidst all the beautifully bent language lies one insane gem that precious few Americans will note, the chatty "Dream," which utilizes a sample from the Damned's Captain Sensible early Eighties novelty hit "Happy Talk," elevating the absolute nadir of British punk rock to something akin to the heavens. Huh. He's just a rascal, a Dizzee Rascal, oh yes.