Dizzee Rascal – Manchester Academy – 28.10.04

If US hip-hop has become overblown, bloated, middle aged and delivering the same old tricks like some street wise and blinged up Rolling Stone member, then the UK Urban scene makes a refreshing change with a vitality and energy not seen since that very first flood of hip-hop records back in the early 80s.

Sonically the onslaught of Dizzee Rascal is closer to that of Public Enemy or NWA than the teenage hip-pop that litters the charts today. Early smash “Fix Up, Look Sharp”, as well as becoming one of the phrases of 2003, still hits the spot with the unforgettable sample from obscure 80s rocker Billy Squier. “Jus A Rascal” marks the bridging between the “Showtime” era Dizzee we get today and the raw primal Dizzee we got on Boy In Da Corner.

Coming out of the UK Garage scene, Dizzee was never just another garage MC, but when you listen to the new tracks live it’s easy to see why he’s hailed as the future of UK Hip-hop. Lyrically sharp and vocally the rhymes are twisted quicker than you say Twista (or JC001 for old skool heads).

On “Showtime” he opened up his musical palette as his musical audience grew following his Mercury Music Prize win last year. He was still a man from the streets that the streets still loved, but he had to reach out to the masses and “Stand Up Tall” and forthcoming single “Dream” more than made the grade. The former was the sort of track that Oxide & Neutrino always tried to achieve, while the latter is pure Jay Z.

When you think just a few years ago UK hip-hop was playing to a handful of people in the back streets of London and Manchester, it’s an achievement to watch Dizzee Rascal sell out the academy. And on the basis of tonights show it can only be a matter of time before he brings on the noise at the Apollo

Alex McCann

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