Dizzie Rascal – Raskit Review 

Ushered in by the likes of Stormzy, Wiley and Skepta 2016 was seen as the return of grime to the UK underground but as always with supposed revivals, no one wants to be labelled nostalgic for very long. 2017 has seen grime begin to move forwards once again merging with varied styles of rap and hip-hop, pushed by the likes of Nadia Rose, Stefflon Don and Ray BLK, creating layered tracks that don’t pander to an American audience but envelop all that it is to be British in the 21st-century.
Dizzee Rascal, a leading figure in the genre’s creation, was clearly never going to be happy simply watching all this from the sidelines. Concerned his legacy might be forgotten amongst the scenes emerging upstarts the East Londoner is back with his sixth album ‘Raskit’ – a title born in reference to a name Dizzee used in his earlier recording days.

After moving away from a pure grime sound, creating a catalogue of pop, garage and bassline infused tracks – all heavily influenced by commercial American hip-hop – ‘Raskit’ see’s Dizzee attempting to show he hasn’t completely forgotten where he came from. 

Picking up his mic and shaking off the sugar coating of previous tracks, ‘Raskit’ sees Dizzee taking away pop choruses, featured artists and, in the most part, overly polished production (though ‘Raskit’ producers are mostly American based; Salva, Cardo and Valentino Khan). Dizzee walks the fine line between rap and grime, taking touches of both but never truly picking a side. Using his latest album as an opportunity to rip an ounce of flesh from those he feels need taking down a peg or two. 

Opener ‘Focus’ sets the tone, mixing subtle touches of grime synths to focus attention on a densely packed vocal as Dizzee’s acknowledges just how long his career has been growing. Through a fear of being forgotten takes shape through ‘Wot U Gonna Do?’, ‘Wot u gonna do when your fans don’t care ’cause they’re all grown up and they all moved on?’ Concerns about being left in the shadows fade as Dizzee bares his teeth at bigger issues.

Tracks, such as ‘Everything Must Go’, bite with raw aggression at the political world, building an attack on the conservative party by even including samples of Boris Johnson and Theresa May, show grime is very much the sound of the frequently forgotten when crafted in an atmosphere of narrow-minded government – particularly relevant in the light of the controversial use of form 696. 

The wrath of Dizzee Rascal, however, doesn’t just fall exclusively onto politicians. Tracks such as ‘The Other Side’, ‘Dummy (16 For The Juice) and the sonically cluttered, grime throwback ‘Sic A Dis’ (an addictive checklist torrent of vexation, produced by English singer/rapper Donae’o) fix their focus on those new-ish grime artists; ‘Too big for my boots, that’s the truth, no excuse for you new recruits’,’Sick of these fakes’, ‘look at everybody eating off my recipe’.

Within places ‘Raskit’ almost brings things back to grime’s core sound, ‘Make It Last’ for example steps back to old-school themes of back-stabbing and shootings though there is still the constant theme of longevity and career celebration; ‘but that’s all in the past… reminisce and raise your glass, nowadays I have a blast, And I’m in a different class, I’m just tryna make it last,’ creating an urgency, which gives the album an undaunted buoyancy. 

Where many tracks drive forwards with honesty and aggression such as; the haunting ‘Ghost’ and ‘Space’ with its appropriate lyric; ‘ain’t no point in playing it safe’, some inevitably fall back to Dizzee’s lad style. An early two thousands mentality creep into a few areas of ‘She Knows What She Wants’, ‘Way I Am’ and ‘Man Of The Hour’ revealing that Ibiza summer anthem isn’t always far away. 

Whether taking punches at the government or provoking his peers and descendants Dizzee’s head-spinning verbal assault is captivating enough to forgive him a few leering indiscretions. Though let’s not go too far into the whole women are trophies thing or the heavy use of Auto-tune and G-funkesque samples, within tracks such as ‘Bop N Keep It Dippin’, closer ‘Man of the Hour’ and ‘She Knows What She Want’s’; because trust me it’s not that.  

Leaving the albums few slips to the lynx tinged side, within ‘Raskit’ vitality comes in the form of the unpicking of social injustices. Tracks such as the reflective ‘Slow Your Roll’, which sees Dizzee lyrically unpick the inequalities within modern Britain, are the albums true highlights. 

With grime moving back into the spot light it was clearly always going to be too much for Dizzee Rascal not to flex his lyrical muscles in order to reclaim his crown. But whether or not he’s truly ‘Man Of The Hour’ time will tell.

Dizzie Rascal – Raskit = 7.5/10

Hayley Miller

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