Here’s how it works. You get to the door. You get patted down. You then pass through a metal detector. You then get patted down again. Just for luck. Welcome to British urban music one week after the Chernobyl of the sixth annual Urban Music Awards (Abandoned: Stabbing Stopped Play).
Guests at the ceremony later criticised security standards, after three people were knifed, one seriously, with reports of “blood all over the floor” after a brawl involving up to 30 people. So in a spirit of shutting the stable door after the horse has high-tailed it and is already sipping a piña colada in Sao Paulo, tonight at the Kentish Town Forum, we get the ultra-vigilance.
Even the version of MIA’s ‘Paper Planes’ Diz freestyles over has had its gunshots blankety-blanked. Pity the riot squad forgot one thing: this is a Dizzee Rascal concert, and therefore crammed with fairly middle-class types who ‘dabble’ in rap.
No amount of overzealous authority, though, can dampen Dizzee’s megawatt positivity. Blazing onstage to his ‘That’s Not My Name’ mash, Diz and the other guy who no-one ever writes about are Catherine wheels of grime. Upfront, we get the middling stuff: ‘Jus A Rascal’,‘Jezebel’, an average, grimey new song called ‘Road Rage’. Then, after a brief intermission, the pot of gold comes out to remind us why he’s the one they call when Newsnight needs a generational spokesman for UK rap. There’s ‘Sirens’ flanked by its genius video, ‘Pussyole (Old Skool)’’s scything, juvenile putdowns, the proto-‘Dance Wiv Me’ sound of ‘Flex’ and ‘Fix Up Look Sharp’’s 600ft beats. He ends on a ‘Dance Wiv Me’ so fleet-footed it’d take something insane to top it.
The good news is that the Rascal’s gone insane. “You wanna hear some new shit? This is the next big ting. It’s called ‘Bonkers’.” And it is. A razor-ribbed slab of techno produced with Armand Van Helden, its aggressive bpm tunes in somewhere near Tidy Trax, overtopped with a fast paranoiac flow hinging on how “some people think I’m bonkers”. Just when you thought Wiley’s ‘Wearing My Rolex’ represented an apex for grime-going-dance, his sometime adversary takes it to a bizarre new place. First there was Calvin Harris, then he deploys The Adventures Of Stevie V’s rave hit ‘Dirty Cash’ on another new track, then
he turns up on a Fatboy Slim single, now this. A trajectory? Maybe. Looks like we’re gonna have to dance wiv him more than we imagined in 2009.