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Gig review...
Dizzee Rascal
"He's just a rascal, a Dizzee Rascal, just a rascal." Just in case we forget his name. And in case you don't know who he is, well, Dizzee's a one man hip-hop machine, and one of the few Brits to take on the Yanks at their own game and come out on top.

It's not just that he's a good wordsmith, or a good performer, or a good producer. He's all of these things, and has an ear for a chorus as well.  And he does it with a British/European/London vibe rather than just following the more celebrated American styles.

He opens tonight with his breakthrough - 'I Luv U', a twisted tale of modern day romance, not quite Romeo and Juliet, but an acerbic story of the complexities of relationships today, and with a frantic beat, based on dance music rather than the soul than underpins a lot of hip-hop.

Moving onto his newest album, 'Paranoid' is a tale of how he's got he is now, and how he can only trust a few people, yet in testament to his abilities, it doesn't seem like another tale of "poor little rich boy", but rather as an insight into his darker hours.  

'Where's Da Gs' is another piece of story-telling, this time attacking the posers and fakes of the music scene, coming across like a modern day take of NWA's denouncements of the wannabes that came in their wake. It's a simple formula - a big hook with a big chorus, and an MC on form spitting out the lyrics. In a similar vein, you could accuse him of aping RUN DMC's 'My Adidas' with his track 'Bubbles', but the beats are just so infectious that we can allow him this little bit of bling.

One of the things that makes Dizzee stand out is his willingness to embrace any type of music, and this comes across most noticeably with 'Temptation', his collaboration with the Arctic Monkeys, and this sets the stall for the next few minutes as DJ Semtex batters out a few indie favourites such as 'I Bet You Look Good', 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' and 'Seven Nation Army', much to the crowds pleasure, before going into a bit of reggae, drum and bass, and jungle. New single 'Flex' is rooted in the UK garage scene, but given a suitably filthy and grimy twist by Mr Rascal, yet it's danceable enough to party to. Unfortunately there's no encore - he has strip clubs to find apparently - but he finishes with another oldie - 'Fix Up, Look Sharp' a track that even though it's now four years old, still works as well as ever.

William Johnston
Photo by Colin Warnock

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Gig Details
Venue: Mandela Hall
Location: Belfast
Date: 30/10/2007

+ Dizzee Rascal interview

Related Links
+ Dizzee Rascal (official)