Dizzee Rascal’s evolution since winning the Mercury Prize with his ‘Boy In Da Corner’ debut album of 2003 has been noticeable indeed. From gritty grime MC to a commercially friendly global sound, the Dizzee of today is a world away from his roots.
Dizzee’s many accolades speak for themselves – he’s a BRIT-winner, too – and repeating past successes evidently isn’t on the Bow native’s agenda. And, judging by the hysteric reaction that greets the chirpy lyricist when he steps onto the Roundhouse stage sporting a casual white T-shirt and blue jeans, he remains as strong a force in the UK rap scene today as he’s ever been.
And we’re straight to business: ‘Superman’ and ‘I Don’t Need A Reason’, from Dizzee’s fifth album ‘The Fifth’ (Clash review) open proceedings, and the atmosphere goes electric. Dizzee feeds off the energy, and the temperature rises when Jessie J leaps onto the stage for another new track, the duet ‘We Don’t Play Around’.
These fresh cuts are received well, but it’s the Rascal’s older material that really gets this party started. ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’ and ‘Jus’ A Rascal’ have revellers on a nostalgic trip, while ‘Holiday’ and ‘Dance Wiv Me’ send the Roundhouse into a spin reminiscent of an Ibiza rave.
Ten years in the business haven’t blunted Dizzee’s impact any – whatever the reaction to ‘The Fifth’, not exactly a critical hit, he’s in his element on a stage, and the feeling inside the venue is consistently vibrant. The evolution, to these admirers, is working.
And then comes the highest high to end the night: ‘Bonkers’. We don’t need to tell you how the crowd goes off here, surely…
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Words: Vanessa Laker
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