An acceptable grime record, finally, but one where its highs are sadly generic.
Melissa Bradshaw 2009
Lethal Bizzle’s is an interesting example of a grime career arc. It began with the unforgettable Pow! (Forward), banned by clubs and venues because of its gun-related content. It charted nonetheless, earning Bizzle a MOBO and a record deal.
Matching up to such an explosive entrance was always going to be tricky, and when Bizzle found himself unable to perform other than by sneaking into indie clubs he took the dubitable direction of ‘grindie’. This idea of combining grime and indie proved better in its intention of uniting audiences than any of its musical output, and Bizzle’s public statements were more exciting than his collaborations with the likes of Babyshambles. For instance, he told Time Out “when white kids jump around its called moshing and when black kids do it’s a riot”, and got in a big public argument with David Cameron.
Musically, he tackled the problem of selling grime by watering it down with guitars rather than electro-house or butterscotch pop like Wiley, Dizzee, Tinchy or Chipmunk. Unfortunately the worst moments on Go Hard are those where Bizzle pursues this idiosyncrasy. For instance, there is the unimaginative Rock Star, which combines fantasies of rock’n’roll behaviour and getting behind Alesha Dixon with a no-brainer guitar line, and MCing that sounds like a poor version of Wiley on Where’s My Brother. Skullz on My Hoodie, which obviously combines urban and indie iconography, is saved by the hilarity of Bizzle’s egoism – he goes from comparing himself with Jimi Hendrix and Lennie Kravitz to a Transformer and a Power Ranger. There is a surprisingly painful track to which Mark Ronson seems to have contributed a kick drum, an electric violin and some really awful, shouty vocals.
The best moments are generic. Earlier this year Bizzle scored something of a hit with the single Go Hard, which features funky house star Donaeo over a perfect jungle beat, comfortably straddling three genres in one go. Bizzle and Donaeo go funky house proper on Flap Your Wings, while So Addictive pulls out the electro house as well as the best chorus on the album. Elsewhere, there is standardised bassline and proper, dark grime on offer.
The conclusion to the story seems to be that there is now an officially acceptable grime LP formula, but all the thrills that once made the genre exciting have been ironed out.