Dizzee Rascal - Boy In Da Corner

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:2003-07-21

On Boy in the Corner, 18-year-old East Londoner Dylan "Dizzee Rascal" Mills sets himself the task of melding British hip-hop with UK-garage. Both styles have an unenviable history of providing a sonic backdrop to violence and criminality, and both are subject to excessive scrutiny from obsessive purists who view miscegenation as heresy. So it's little surprise that Mills' debut sounds so paranoid, claustrophobic and unsettling; this is front-line music, fidgety, distracted and distracting. It is, in the main slow, stripped-down and awkward, recalling Kraftwerk, Afrika Bambaataa, Schooly D and LL Cool J as much as Dizzee's UK peers.

At times it lives up to the extravagant praise many have already bestowed upon it. "I Luv U", the nagging single, is brilliantly conceived--boy and girl talking about one another without hearing, a perfect encapsulation of how disconnection is the norm, even if you've got two mobiles, a pager and an e-mail address. "Fix Up, Look Sharp", sampled from Billy Squier's 1980 rock classic "Big Beat", is as near as the record comes to straightforward rap, its joyous flavour provides a much needed moment of uplift to what is an often brilliant but densely oppressive album. --Angus Batey

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