Published Jun 20, 2007Few artists can lay claim to the kind of career East Londons Dizzee Rascal has currently underway. He broke out of obscurity at the age of 18 with Boy In Da Corner, won the 2003 Mercury Music Prize and was touted as the leading light of what was, at the time, expected to be the imminent grime crossover. For numerous reasons, that crossover never happened. 2004s equally impressive Showtime demonstrated that Dizzee wanted less to do with making grittier UK garage and more to do making deviated U.S. hip-hop. Three years later, Maths + English confirms Dizzees trajectory away from grime. Thankfully, Dizzee doesnt sacrifice his bite and the end result is not only the most accessible Dizzee Rascal album to date but also the most unapologetically straightforward and energetic. This MCs most developed skills come not from his flow, which has been impressively distinct from the beginning, but more so from his mastery behind the boards. Lily Allen and the Arctic Monkeys Alex Turner are featured on two tracks but Dizzee plays with their voices as if prepping a sample for the Prodigy, circa 1993. This third album by Dizzee marks the powerful return of a rapper with talent and ingenuity to burn. (XL)
How did the Lily Allen collaboration happen?
That was actually through me working with Future Cut, two producers who worked on a lot of our albums. They were playing me some tracks and they come across the Bugsy Malone one, the one that goes, "So you wanna be a boxer. I kind of liked the vibe of it. Id done things kind of similar to that already. We were thinking of ways to flip it. "Gangsta was the obvious thing. So then they went through the computer, looking for it, and Lily had already done it a while back. So then it was a matter of getting her to come in and do it again, sing it properly. That was it.
Was the Arctic Monkeys a similar process?
No, I wanted to work with them. They contacted me about going on a track, a b-side called "Temptation Greets You Like a Naughty Mate. Then Alex came down to the studio and recorded it, put the vocals over it, and a little while later Cage and Footsie sampled it and remixed it, wrote some new lyrics for it, and thats the version youve got on my album. (XL)