Dizzee Rascal performing at Rock am Ring 2013
Dizzee Rascal performing at Rock am Ring 2013

The first time I listened to Dizzee Rascal, I was confused. I didn’t know where to place the sound; I couldn’t instantly connect it with something else. What Djs pray for is to hear something they’ve never heard before, and this was it.

Once I hunted down the record I realized Dizzee was going to be the first legitimate success from that UK hip-hop/garage scene. After that I started obsessing over his lyrics. Dizzee tells stories that are related to what he’s dealing with and where he grew up, which is fascinating. He’s good battle rhymer as well. I just really like the face he was fierce, he had an energy about him. He has the most unique voice in hip-hop.

If you take any record that sounds individual, people are going to ask why it sounds like it does and where it’s come from. So with his music, Dizzee is bringing attention to the UK’s amazing music scene. He’s doing the same thing that Razorlight and Franz Ferdinand are: bringing their own unique twist to music that they’re into. That’s why I live here in the UK and not back in New Zealand.

On the second album Dizzee has grown in confidence. He realized he’s got an audience so he isn’t afraid to take a risk. Who else has got the balls to use a Captain Sensible sample? He’s no longer the boy in da corner, it really is showtime; he’s not willing to rest on his laurels and he’s grown as a performer. He’s now comfortable in the spotlight and that’s great because hip-hop is all about confidence, about saying you’re the best.

Everything changed for UK hip-hop when Dizzee came out – people like Mike Skinner had to up their game. He’s paved the way for some incredible young rappers coming out now, like Kano and D Double E. Dizzee inspires people to do whatever they want, but in their own voice; he doesn’t compromise who he is or what he does. You can do things in a predictable way and still get to the top, but that’s a hollow victory.

I can’t relate to some of the stuff he talks about, but it’s music that makes me exited and makes me feel alive. As he gets older and makes more records, people will look back on his career and he will be seen as a great solo artist and a shining light of British music.

© Zane Lowe NME November 20, 2004

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