Young Dylan Mills once recommended you respect him even if it killed you. A tall order, frankly, but Dizzee Rascal’s done much
since to become, well, respectable. He sampled Captain Sensible’s cutie-pie hit ‘Happy Talk’. He did a little something for those less fortunate by dropping a couple of lines on the ‘Band Aid 20’ single. And his forthcoming album, ‘Maths + English’ sees him cosying up with Lily Allen and Arctic Monkeys. Goodbye to the ghetto? Think again.
The opening of ‘Sirens’ is like being shaken into a nightmare – it starts with crackling police radios and a booming bass that shudders the ground like distant depth charges exploding in Regent’s Canal. This is the first Dizzee track where his long-stated admiration for Sepultura and Nirvana makes sense – a conflagration of tapped cymbals and gnarly rock guitar that climaxes with a massive Rage Against The Machine-style breakdown: “I break the law I will never change”. In the hands of a lesser MC, it
would be a little too Limp Bizkit for comfort. But like Eminem before him, Dizzee has a skill for converting tabloid outrage into sheer adrenaline.
‘Sirens’ is a record that sounds like a crime scene, one that surveys the tattered newspaper hoardings – stabbings in east London, hoodied youth gone feral – and thrives off them. Not a pleasant record. But a great one.