Dizzee Rascal
Showtime


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ben Thornburgh CONTRIBUTOR (138 Reviews)
January 14th, 2015 | 10 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For Tomorrow: A Guide to Contemporary British Music, 1988-2013 (Part 81)

Early into Dizzee Rascal’s sophomore album Showtime he makes an important distinction between where he was in 2003 and where he was in 2004. On his debut album, he was the Boy in da Corner, now he’s “formally the Boy in da Corner”. Indeed, after your debut album makes you the youngest person to win the Mercury Music Prize, you can’t pretend your back’s up against the wall anymore. On Showtime, Dizzee, born Dylan Mills, understands the rarity of his success and even takes a moment, during “Dream”, to offer a very genuine thank you to the 100,000 people who bought his debut. But despite this new peak, Showtime finds him cagy, defensive of his new position and paranoid that he might tumble back down to the ghetto he came from at any moment.

Released almost exactly a year apart, the quick turnaround between Boy in da Corner and Showtime means Dizzee still sounds viciously hungry. His approach to the beats assembled here, both in flow and lyrical themes, is best described by a line from closer “Fickle”; “If I can't find away around I'll find away across/and if I can't find away across I'll bore straight through.” On Showtime, Dizzee assembles a series of one or two word topics (“Learn”, “Respect Me”, “Get By”) and bores straight through them, tackling each with a optometrist's focus and that one-in-a-million east London yawp. Opener “Showtime” recounts Dizzee’s origin story in a, uh, dizzying double time that packs a lot of information into tiny compartments while “Respect Me”s teeth gritting hook gives way to verses packed with so much malice and venom it makes Dizzee sound both dangerous and lonely in his angry isolation. “You people are going to respect me if it kills you” he growls ever so slowly. The majority of Showtime takes place in this area, with Dizzee’s success stirring up more paranoia than comfort as he keeps those around him at a distance while he grasps for the next rung on the latter. When he asks “Imagine if I showed you one I was leavin' the hood/Would you call me a sell out?/ Would you say it's all good?” on “Imagine” he sounds aware that his success will create more envy than goodwill and is crushed seeing friends who cheered him on yesterday wish for his downfall today.

Beat-wise, Showtime makes another case for Dizzee as one of the most underrated producers in the game. Part of this has to do with the fact that it’s hard to imagine anyone but Dizzee tackling this set of beats with the same success. Throughout Showtime Mills grabs upon a small handful of sounds that seize his attention - the alka-seltzer tablets dissolving on “Everywhere” or the wistful flutes of “Imagine” - and surround them with just enough elements to make the track feel full but not too many as to clutter. As such, these beats don’t really bang, they clatter, filling the track with percussive corners and pockets that Dizzee is more than good enough to fill with his wild assortment of flows.

Only once does Showtime break free from the stress of maintaining new success. Obvious lead single “Stand Up Tall” leaps from the tracklist so urgently that on first listen it can feel like the album’s only highlight. Over a beat lifted wholesale from Youngstar’s “Mayhem 2” Dizzee cuts loose, letting his screwface slip for a moment, sounding as overjoyed to be in front of the microphone as he did on Basement Jaxx’s “Lucky Star” the previous year. But Showtime doesn’t feature Dizzee embracing his party starter destiny just yet. Instead he’s still living with a “ghetto frame of mind” on the eerily still “Get By” and remarking how his “five stab wounds, couple scratches, bruises, and some pains” helped his debut sell double on “Knock Knock”. Even the cheery hook to “Dream” has a menacing leer in spite of Dizzee’s shoutouts to baby moms and dads.

“I ain't mad, I'm a lovely lad/I'll give you the loveliest beating that you've ever had!” Dizzee claims on “Everywhere”. Despite the title, this rudeboy smirk hadn’t fully worn off Dizzee yet and fame wasn’t prying the lovely lad out from under it yet. Much of Showtime quakes with the fear that this is the last time anyone is going to care about what young Dylan Mills has to say. On closer “Fickle” he already has “so much to say in so little time” a mere year after his breakthrough. Mills’ doubt in his own longevity feels most adept as he packs the album so full of words that he barely finishes his last disconcerting thought out - “Now its a few years and I feel lost/Trying to live the high life but at what cost?” - seconds before the album comes to an end. Dizzee Rascal’s hunger and awareness kept him from slipping into grime’s history as he would spend the rest of the decade staying on the move musically. So Showtime, despite beginning with Dizzee shedding his boy in the corner title, is actually the last glimpse of it. It’s the last time Dizzee would sound like the underdog from East London.



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user ratings (48)
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3.2
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Comments:Add a Comment 
HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
January 14th 2015


1702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Full series: http://holidaykirk.com/

Medium: https://medium.com/@HolidayKirk

Twitter: @HolidayKirk



New review every Wednesday.

DecayingMajesty
January 14th 2015


709 Comments


Nice man; never really been a fan but some stuff off 'Boy in da corner' was great.

SharkTooth
January 14th 2015


8172 Comments


Do you have a predetermined list you're going through or are the albums in this series selected when you feel like reviewing them?

Digging: Fusion Orchestra - Skeleton In Armour

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
January 14th 2015


1702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I make a list for the current year I'm writing in and once I complete it make a list for the next year.

HalfManHalfAmazing
January 14th 2015


1746 Comments


been meaning to listen to Boy in Da Corner

Digging: Freddie Gibbs - Pronto

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
January 14th 2015


4167 Comments


crap album, exceptional review.

Digging: Liturgy - The Ark Work

Tunaboy45
January 14th 2015


6104 Comments


Really hate him. My little brother has tongue in cheek and it's pretty awful. Great review though.

Digging: Bjork - Vulnicura

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
January 14th 2015


1702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really don't get why Dizzee seems so loathed around here.

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
January 14th 2015


4167 Comments


loathe is a pretty strong word, i just don't think he's particularly good

Mall
January 14th 2015


2156 Comments


Not heard this but as decay said Boy In Da Corner has many great moment so ill be checking this

I think you might be my favourite reviewer on the site actually, the way you write always makes me want to check things out, even if I've dismissed it before



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