Friday, 27 September 2013

Dizzee Rascal - The Fifth


Dizzee Rascal is the most celebrated, followed, and most critically acclaimed rapper in British history. He's the undisputed leader of the early 00s grime scene... Arguably, he's the biggest and best product to arise from the chav culture. Dizzee Rascal isn't just for fans of grime, or hip-hop, he's the young man's British alternative. His 2-step counterpart Mike Skinner (better known as The Streets,) released one of the best British albums of the decade in 2004 with A Grand Don't Come for Free. Alternative hip-hop was finally rising out of the underground in the mid-00s. Dizzee Rascal came out with Boy in da Corner in 2003, to huge acclaim, winning the Mercury Prize in the process. His career could keep on rising, and it did with next year’s Showtime, and then in my opinion his best effort in 2007 with Maths + English. Lily Allen gave guest vocals, on the fantastic back album track "Wanna Be" which samples "So You Wanna Be a Boxer" from the film Bugsy Malone. He even took out Joss Stone's guest vocal on "Da Feelin'", because he felt it sounded too poppy - ironic today. And this is where the story comes to a close. He leaves the stage, the curtains are drawn, and the crowd stomp their feet and...

Tongue n' Cheek was far from disappointing. Dizzee Rascal changed his philosophy; his bank balance did that for him. The music found on Tongue n' Cheek is electronic, dance, and has the tag 'club favourite' applied to a good three/four tracks. "Bonkers" was the lead single; it throws long-term fans of Dizzee Rascal from the rolling bus. But it stopped to pick up a whole new breed of fan, the clubber, the NOW buyer, and the pop listener. "Dance wiv' Me" introduced the old fans to his new sound, it also brought new light to Dizzee Rascal's name as it peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart, and you all know what that means. It's passed over on to his fifth studio album, simply named The Fifth. The hype began with the impressive pre-release single "Bassline Junkie", which name is even more obvious than the album title. It takes on a heavier garage feel and vibe than the synth, dance music of Tongue n' Cheek. A return to the grime/garage roots, but with the production quality of his newer material. It's been several months since "Bassline Junkie" and Dizzee Rascal's fifth album is ready for listening, it’s right on the cusp of the club's doorsteps and Radio One's A-list.

Why then, do I feel like Dizzee Rascal is punishing his old skool fans? The Fifth has to be one of the worst pop albums released, that's not came from XFactor or a similar reality bullshit program. This is really bad, right from the off, "Superman", one of the worst vocals Dizzee has delivered to date. He's included his rapping, but its effect is rendered useless as it's put down by an auto-tune chorus and an awful refrain of: "I am superman, bitch I’m superman." It's the most basic and simplest of raps that makes Rick Ross sound like a Yale graduate. The Fifth continues down this path of bullshit with "I Don’t Need A Reason". He sings: "Everyday life can't stress me, stay on the ball like Messi, money and women are the only things that impress me," not impressive in the slightest. The beat is shallow and the track just passes by without any notice or care. Dizzee's pace means absolutely nothing if the content is poor. His lyrics vary from liking women, then rapidly changing theme to having endless money; it's the sort of lyricism that makes Jay Z's recent albums extremely repetitive and overall - shit.

Shit is a word that can be applied to most of The Fifth... Especially the terrible predictable soon to be chart hit "We Don't Play Around". It features bad song-writer but worse vocalist vocalist Jessie J. I mean, Dizzee Rascal was messing in the grime scene a decade ago and now he's fraternising with the same products the underground musicians of the 00s despised. It's Jessie J, which means, she's singing the basic refrain, and its pop, which means it’s the very same progression and structure as every single awful mess the UK charts seem to bone after all these years. It's not just the fact, that this is pop shit; it's that Dizzee Rascal is doing it for the fame and money rather than the creative outcome. Those that think he's trying to create a masterpiece with this load of garbage need their minds looking at. Long gone are the days of self-expression and utilising what you've got. Dizzee Rascal has all the money and all the contacts in the world, enough to make him even more money by putting out the same shit Simon Cowell endorses by saying, 'you can sing'. What annoys me even more is the song-writing credits. Dizze Rascal albums are used to "all songs written by Dylan Mills," on The Fifth it's ego heaven: Jean Baptiste, Ryan Buendia, Michael McHenry, Teddy Sky (a.k.a RedOne's bitch and writer/composer for One Direction... ONE DIRECRION,) this is what we have to work with. 

"Good" features R&B vocalist Angel, and actually marks a likable change of theme on The Fifth. It's one of the few tracks that are not either pop shit or in your face. It doesn't have a great refrain or beat as such, it's just a relaxing track that sits well compared to it's sandwich guests Jessie J and Tinnie Tempah. The latter delivers a lacklustre vocal on "Spent Some Money". The beat is 2013 relevant, and would easily be 2am club music, as Tempeh’s vocal suggests. Sean Kingston makes an appearance on "Arse Like That", didn't even know he was still around. This has to be the weakest point on the album, the moment the listener realises just how low Dizzee Rascal's credibility as an artist has gotten. It's trap music for people that don't like music. After Dizzee's very poor rap which wouldn’t even make a The Lonely Island B-sides compilation. Kingston sings the refrain which is completely irrelevant to what Dizzee is rapping about. The whole premise and lyrical theme behind this track is first of all worrying, but more importantly aimed for a cesspit of scumbags.

The Fifth doesn't surprise, and it doesn’t suggest a better Dizzee Rascal. It's lazy musicianship, something that’s a bigger gripe to me than the actual poor music. He's not even trying on this album. His raps are atrocious and the lyrics are completely meaningless. The guests; they're the tipping point. Will.I.Am, Jessie J, and Robbie Williams. In 2004, picture Dizzee Rascal working with Robbie Williams - what a mess. The track at hand is "Goin' Crazy", the worst song Robbie has put his name on. Bless his Stokey heart, he's tried his best in the past and has curated some sublime songs with "It's Only Us" and "Let Me Entertain You", but he's passed his time now. Robbie is only here because Example rejected the guest vocal... You know your career's gone to shit when Example rejects you.

Briefly, the back album tracks. They're always considered the weakest points on albums, except with The Fifth. "H-Town" is respectful, there's an ear-catching riff and finally, some important rapping from Dizzee Rascal. This is the hip-hop he's left behind, and it shows just how good he can be when he sticks to his roots and created the music of his past. It's about Houston, Texas, and features two Houston based rappers Bun B and Trae tha Truth. This is the peak, a short back album track with little features. As soon as the peak is reached, well, you already know. "Heart of a Warrior" enters, and leaves with nothing but mediocrity, then "Life Keeps Moving On" which is unnaturally placed as the penultimate track. it shouldn’t even be on this album at all. This track brings back memories of the repetitive badly produced Motown tracks of the 80s, instead of the innovative sounds of the soulful 60s. And Dizzee Rascal caps it off with "Bassline Junkie", which is the standout track and one of the few tracks worth keeping.

The Fifth It's like Psy's "Gangnam Style". Nobody actually likes the song, it's just one huge joke; but Dizzee Rascal is serious, somehow The Fifth has been created, and I’ve got to tell you, it's really depressing to hear such wasted talent. There's no experimenting on this album as some might suggest. Everything that's been outlined on The Fifth has been produced or created in the past through badly written lyrics, or basic progressions on synthesizers and expensive computer equipment. RedOne is written all over The Fifth, and his pop influence leaves its mark in a deep cut. Where Tongue n' Cheek excelled in dance music, The Fifth falls down, and completely takes a new direction to general pop. This is hardly hip-hop, it's hardly electronic, and it's hardly pop too. It's something in between all genres, but doesn’t push the boundaries of music. The Fifth is the Steve Aoki of British music, which is possibly the harshest comment I can say about this album. It's an album you need to experience, not for its qualities (which are non-existent,) but for its potential parodies. Dizzee Rascal is the joke, he's the sole reason this music is shit. He had a choice, and he took the money and fame over skill and credibility. He's now in the same category as LMFAO, Steve Aoki, and The Black Eyed Peas. Tongue n' Cheek wasn't bad, Dizzee Rascal was still at the heart of the album, and his lyrics still mattered. The Fifth is like a dodgy pop mixtape where the guests matter more than the name on the front. Dizzee Rascal didn't make these beats, he hasn't produced it, he's had help writing these tracks, and he doesn’t sing the refrains... The Fifth is as empty as Dizzee Rascal's own contribution.
~Eddie

1.6

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