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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dizzee Rascal

"Maths + English" Both Dizzee's and Wiley's new albums have been hyped up to high heavens, but it's "Maths + English" that most seems to live up to the sense of occasion : when Dizzee gets it right he obliterates pretty much anything Wiley can muster on "Playtime Is Over". A few months back XL leaked out radio copies of "Hardback (Industry)" and the track was universally panned, with the much more obvious "Sirens" ending up as the lead single off the album. It's a strange thing because for our money "Hardback" is quite easily the best thing on this album - and by some distance. The beats are sparse and uncompromising, a genuinely filthy sheen marking the maverick production with Dizzee's flow delivering the necessaries : spiteful, funny and onomatopoeic throughout. If you're looking for next level kinda sh*t - look no further. "World Outside" opens the album with a brilliantly unsettling synth cascade that sounds like a healing "sounds of the ocean" cd gone wrong while Dizzee's uncharacteristically restrained, almost downtrodden delivery sets the scene for what's to follow. "Excuse Me" references Sly & Robbie's classic productions for Grace Jones, the backing track bringing to mind the fabulous "Private Life" with its squashed bass and woodblock percussion, with Dizzee allowing himself to go down a more obvious lyrical route with a conscious social commentary that includes memorable lines like "sometimes I think the whole world's gone crazy.." - not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but the man has enough vocal charisma to get away with it. "Paranoid" (produced together with Dirty Stank protégé Footsie) returns to a more familiar Grime template with a doom-laden chime accompanying the necessary percussive filth, while "Bubbles" is a brilliantly mashed-up exercise in percussive reduction, complete with a skewed Eastern flavour that works a treat. It's also worth noting that there are many hands at work here - the whole album produced by Hip Hop luminary Cage, a couple of tracks apparently featuring keyboard contributions from a certain "M. Herbert", Arctic Monkey Alex Turner turning up for "Temptation", Lily Allen on "Wanna Be" and Drum and Bass heroes Shy FX and T Power mixing down Dizzee's attempt at summertime jungle on "Da Feelin'" - and it's this open-minded attitude that sums up both the best and worst things about this album. "Maths & English" is a sprawling, daring album with an attention deficit that imbues it not only with some outrageously original successes, but also with a number of it's biggest mistakes. On balance though - the highs here far outweigh the lows, and when this album peaks (keep on going back to Hardback, we tell ya), it provides just about the most exciting urban music you'll find in 2007. In short, for about half the tracks on here we'd urge you to investigate this album immediately - and remember to play it as loud as you possibly can... in boomkat [Para Ouvir]


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