Dizzee Rascal - Tongue N Cheek

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Dizzee Rascal’s newest album is a successful departure from his past, leaving Boy in da Corner and Showtime behind on the road like so many curled up tangerine peels and launching himself headlong in to the exalted companies of Calvin Harris, Tiesto, Armand van Helden and Shy FX.

Although these are the big names, you have to mention Chrome too with whom the collaboration seems more natural. But these dance infused tracks, served with a large sense of humour, have marked out a musical progression that’s surely a little cynical – but equally, successful. Tongue n’ Cheek it may be, but you can only imagine what he’ll be like when he gets serious.

You’ll no doubt have heard some of the early singles, with Bonkers and Holiday certainly top of many playlists. Van Helden played his part in the former of these, a bouncing track with a catchy hook, simple but effective vocals and a certain silliness that’s not overplayed. I don’t know how you can successfully use the word ‘bonkers’ as your drop but when the heavy bass line kicks in it works, even the short R&B break works. “All I care about is sex and violence, A heavy bass line is my kind of silence.”

Holiday, made with Calvin Harris and Chrome, goes along different lines. It might not make so much sense to an Australian listener but from the English perspective it really does encapsulate the holiday vibe, slightly trashy euro-house kicks, hitting cheap resorts in the costa del whatever or the party islands, having far too much fun. It’s like where grime meets trance. Both of these are along similar lines as some of the latest Tinchy Stryder stuff, combing up genres to make party music.

The Shy Fx track, Can’t Tek No More is a different beast with a horribly catchy chorus. A slowed down track, drifting towards something akin to Mattafix with the dub inflection, and, considering this a collaboration with one of DnBs finest, a seriously relaxed air and flow.

But, if you thought that was weird, Bad Behaviour confounds expectations like an invisible goat, Tiesto making a dirty, dirty bass line which kicks in to a two-step, bass kick beat, building layers of percussion. Maybe this was like a mental exercise as sounds get thrown in, wails and horns, building in to a well structured hip hop track before deconstructing in to its parts again.

In between all this we get a bit more of what we’d expect from Mr Rascal, although with a few twists. Dirty Cash samples the Stevie V tune and sort of sounds like he’s just rapping over a classic 80s track. Road Rage at least has a bit of the insane anger I like, starting with the best insult of them all: ‘Your mum’ before a pretty militant skanking track and Money, Money, Money a relentless rapfest with music to suit.

I got a bit worried, after Math + English that Dizzee was going to go down the mass produced, Kanye West style hip hop sound, instead he’s taken a sharp left turn and headed in to new territory. It works too. There’s times where his acerbic world view and the lightness of the music mismatch, but generally this album is a big success and well worth a listen. Even if it is a little bonkers.

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danmau5

danmau5 said on the 19th Oct, 2009

great review, mate - even if there was a horrible play on words to finish it up! i agree with a lot of the points you have made on this one. those who he has collab'd with on this album have come under a bit of fire for changing their style (namely tiest