Dizzee Rascal’s debut single is the point where Euro-terror techno gets crunked up, all boings and claps and sickly keyboards. His text is the battle of the sexes devolved to the schoolyard. Or Stone Age. Dizzee versus “some whore/ bangin at your door/what for?/15?/she’s underage/that’s raw.” A cauterized fembot intones those “three magic words” but Dizzee’s chick knows better: “That boy’s some prick ya know/ all up in my hair/thinks that I care.” Love, or at least mutual apathy, 2003-style.
It’s funny like watching a particularly voluble couple go at it in the street. Pick under the beat-scabs and boasting and it’s gone maggoty and depressing. Broke and fresh out of high school, Dizzee really seems to possess the truth only known by guttersnipes. His friends get jumped? That’s a song. Community service for petty theft? A song. The 15-year-old gets pregnant? Err . . .
Hours on British pirate radio gave the boy a real talent for twisting ye olde English into ridiculous Play-Doh shapes. The BBC’s already noticed, voting him fifth in line for “Artists to Watch in 2003,” even though he’s just now been signed. Mike Skinner thinks Dizzee’s (alert the Hague) the future of music. And speaking of juvenile nihilism, Vice magazine wanted to release “I Luv U” as a seven-inch before being priced out, linking garage punk 45s with U.K. garage 12-inches.
So Dizzee’s just more hooligan house? Perhaps. But on the flip-side mix of “I Luv U,” over a subdued thump and twinkly chimes, like a ruff Röyksopp, Dizzee tells us he wants “a girl with brains as well as looks,” but concedes “can you teach me to share/I don’t know how to care” in the chorus. Both mixes are balder generational assessments than anything American “reality rap” has attempted —and more sadly beautiful than anything knocked out with a mic and an iMac has any right to be.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 29, 2003