The Dizzee Rascal interview - Dizzee: The Rascal Revolution

2008-11-30 15:18
We got on the blower with the pyrotechnical purveyor of abrasive, in your face raps and street-soaked garage grooves to find out what all the hype is about. Just don't call what he does "hip-hop", okay?

CHANNEL24: Hello, Dizzee, how are you doing?
DIZZEE: Yo, so wha's happening, man?
M-WEB: With all the media drooling over you at the moment, what do you do to chill out?
DIZZEE: Well, I like to keep it low and just get some head, ya know? (chuckles). Yeah, just hanging with my brethrens or whatever, get me a pretty girl...but I'll tell you what it is man, I'm also on a really relaxed tip right now because there's so much going on.

CHANNEL24: Has winning the Mercury Prize changed the way you approach music?
Only in the sense that like there's a lot more audience to make music for. I don't know whether I'm gonna change myself...

CHANNEL24: With the charts dominated by an endless stream of acts that all sound alike are you consciously making music to wake up those listeners sedated with "in da club" booty and bling bling jams?
DIZZEE: Yes and no. My whole thing was like, when I learned to make music in the 1st place I weren't concerned with trying to make a hip-hop beat or whatever, but to see what I could do just with the sounds that were in the computer. It's like interesting. So when I come up from the underground I didn't listen to a lot of generic bullshit. I knew I wanted to be able to break that up - I knew I couldn't do that. I still wanted people to feel it, but they'd have to listen to it a bit differently.

CHANNEL24: Your music incorporates all sorts of sounds, from garage and drum 'n bas to hip-hop, rock, funk, techno - what the hell where you listening to growing up?
DIZZEE: Oh, I was listening to things like - well, obviously drum 'n bass dominated pirate radio, I listened to that a lot, I loved drum 'n bass. I listened to rock as well, I ain't gonna lie, I liked Nirvana, I liked Korn - you know Korn? There were a couple of punk groups I was into. I liked techno a bit. I was so open minded with music was funny, I didn't care. I'd always try to listen for something - if anything'd come out I wouldn't just ignore it, I would listen to it. And I'd try to work out why it was good or why someone would like it.

CHANNEL24: As a producer you don't seem like one of these "bedroom knob twiddlers" who takes days to lay down a beat?
Yeah, man it's great innit? Well when I do it fast it's just that I don't want to - when something sounds like it's done, it's just done, man. All there is to add is some vocals with that, that's just it for me.

CHANNEL24: Your productions are pretty sparse: chopped up rhythms, samples. Do you think this is a better medium for your message than more conventional hip-hop beats?
Yeah, I mean you're saying it's kind of minimal, innit? Yeah, someone once told me when I was young, vocals is the last instrument, innit? It's the last instrument, it's like the full stop of everything that's in it. (Take) a track like "Fix up, Look Sharp", a big hip-hop kind of track - it doesn't sound like generic, a UK person trying to sound American, like a lot of my predecessors and people before me.

CHANNEL24: You rap about a whole bunch of social issues like teenage sex and unemployment. Does it bother you when critics obsess over the violent content of your lyrics rather than say, maybe the humour?
DIZZEE (sighs):
Yeah, man a lot of it is irony as well. There's a lot of things going on in the world and this is a reflection of what I know, what I've seen... it's not predominantly violent. It's more about the creativity of the music and not being scared to try a different thing. And the other (violent) stuff, well that's what I know, that's what I'm familiar with, so that's what will come out in that lyrically a lot of the time. But there are other elements as well and that's the first album as I go along and hope to have a career I'll cover other aspects in my thing. Probably the album as a whole...though it is extremely, like I dunno "violent", it can be extremely uplifting as well.

CHANNEL24: So do you ever dream about settling down with a nice woman one day and having a family?
Maybe one day, you know what I mean? But, no there's too much of the earth to see... and I ain't been with no South African girls yet! (laughs)

When Boy in da Corner won Britain's prestigious Mercury Prize earlier this year few people outside the UK had heard of the 19 year-old Dizzee Rascal. Exploding out of the UK garage underground, his minimal beat collage of abrasive drum 'n bass manacled to sample-skewered funk, metallic hangovers and gangster filtered glam-funk immediately had critics calling him Britain's answer to Eminem. We got on the blower with the pyrotechnical purveyor of abrasive, in your face raps and street-soaked garag publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.