For his sixth album, Dizzee Rascal doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel. Still a top notch rapper in his ability to unleash verse after verse on his listeners, his style and production does tend to grow a little predictable at times. So do his vocal talents outshine the production or does he too fall into its pitfalls.
“Focus” opens the album with a brash mix of bass and synths, assaulting the ears with a barrage of noise. While the lyrics bounce between clever and forced the delivery keeps it moving forward all the same. “Wot U Gonna Do” is utterly menacing in its horror movie sounding backing track, upping the anxiety on each chorus. Frantic in his delivery, Rascal adds to the hectic mood while the instrumentation gets even more unnerving. Pushing his flow to the edge, “Space” finds Rascal at his limits on one of the more standard sounding tracks otherwise.
With a grandeur-pushing intro, “I Ain’t Even Gonna Lie” Rascal goes even harder, going almost at a minute at a time in some cases before taking a proper space between lines. Pushing the production a little more, there’s a lot more going on this time around. “The Other Side” cranks up the bass, as Rascal gets angry, even throwing on some auto-tune at his most passionate. Providing one of the more gritty and enticing tracks of the record, “Make It Last” stands out from the start. Throwing more attitude behind his delivery, Rascal is gives his all for this visceral track, making it soar where other tracks merely float.
“Ghost” makes something dark out of an unconventional sample track, although not always taking advantage of it enough. While not totally satisfying, the use of metaphors in this track is Rascal at his most sharp. Managing to make Street Fighter references sound smooth, “Business Man” makes something modern of a vintage-sounding lounge track. While spitting verses as hard as ever, this point in the record does show the weaknesses in some of Rascal’s choruses, even with his solid source tracks. “Bop N Keep It Dippin” goes the most straight hip hop route, and while somewhat predictable, does have some of the most natural sounding vocal hooks on the record.
At his smoothest, “She Knows What She Wants” digs into a solid groove, as Rascal rides its wave wholeheartedly. Leading listeners through a verse he even subverts expectations as he stays true to himself, lifting the women while admitting they’re not right for each other. “Dummy” takes another dirty bass run, as Rascal takes on the gangster lifestyle with endless word-work. Extremely old-school, “Everything Must Go” gets a little lo-fi in parts, mixing in some news clips for hilarious commentary.
“Slow Your Roll” rises with a hopeful swell as Rascal laments the pain he’s dealt with over the years. Cutting like a knife, “Sick A Dis” has a brutal edge to its sound, with the lyrics going through everything Rascal can’t stand anymore, whether political or mundane. “Why I Am” shifts to a much more cheerful, brush off the naysayers style, as the pop production elevates the feeling even higher. Closing on “Man Of The Hour” moves to an early 2000’s sound as raps about his career woes.
Words by Owen Maxwell