Many would have you believe that Dizzee Rascal was an overnight success. His first album Boy In Da Corner was well received by grime fans and critics alike, so well received in fact that it beat Coldplay and Radiohead to win the 2003 Mercury music prize. This was followed by an appearance on last years Christmas number one Band Aid 20, sandwiched together with the likes of The Darkness, Will Young and The Sugababes for ‘charidee’.
But despite his forays into the world of pop, Dizzee is a serious and highly motivated artist. Still just 21, he’s been playing live gigs in clubs for the best part of a decade and his second album Showtime cemented him at the heart of a new grime scene. Those who witnessed his appearance at the Rescue Rooms in November will know that there is plenty left yet to come…
Tell us about your Dirtee Stank label?
Basically I’ve had the label from before I was signed to XL. I was putting out tracks like ‘I love you’ and a couple of instrumentals, which were around on pirate radio and the underground scene. Now, finally, I’ve been lucky enough to come across some groups that make good music and bring them along. Dirtee Stank is about showcasing and giving people across the country the chance to hear it. I’m a fan of music so it’s another side of me. It’s a blessing.
Tell us about 'Class A' from Leicester
They actually signed to XL before I did. I don’t know what their situation was, but I heard their music and I was feeling it. It touched me and around that time I just had this feeling, like this hunger. So from there I just knew that something has to come from outside London and then one day it was just there. It was always there, but I had to grab hold of it and bring it through Dirtee stank.
I read that you recorded your first album at home, before you were signed and it went out on general release untouched. That’s mad when you listen to it…
Yeah fo’real. I was going for it…I ain’t stopped either. I don’t stop. At first it was just learning how to make music then, when I actually got a chance to get it out on radio and that, the hunger came even more, ‘cause I knew this could go somewhere.
How do you think Showtime was a progression from Boy In Da Corner?
I think I tried to go a bit deeper, technically as far as verses and stuff like that. I wanted to show, deeper skills. The first one was a lot more hook orientated and simple, but I wanted to make something different for the second. There was a lot of speculation as to whether I could do it again, the curse of the mercury prize and all sorts. Now I’m in the middle of the third. I’ve done a lot of it and if I do say myself it’s banging. Quote me on that please...
Do you know what it’ll be called?
It’s called Maths and English because that’s what I do. Producing is all numbers, it’s Maths. And English, obviously, the writing, and where I’m from England. It says it all man. I’ve done a few tracks on it with D Double E and Footsie, for some production that’s on more that grimey take. I’ve also done a thing with ShyFX, so I’m branching out man, all over the place, but there definitely is a vibe about it.
I heard you recorded your skit for Band Aid in 15 minutes?
I went there and they told me what they wanted. So when I wrote it, it was nothing. I did a recording of it, and I got shown afterwards that it was too short. So I just went upstairs quickly and wrote the rest of it, then came down. It’s no big story really, it was just a good thing to do.
What was the shoe you designed for Nike like?
It was the Airmax 180. I put the logo on it and chose the colours. It was good to be venturing out into that, as Nike was always one of my favourite shoes, so naturally to get to do that was a treat. I also put the docklands light railway on the innersole.
Tell us about working with Semtex…
He’s just the best DJ in the country. It’s a blessing for me. He was an A&R and he was going to sign me to Def Jam and had me supporting Jay-Z when I was 17. When I didn’t end up signing with Def Jam, he was still around, know what I mean? He’s just a part of what I do. It’s how we’ll continue to be as well.
I hear you’re working on a film soundtrack?
Yeah. I’ve done a few tunes for the film ‘Rolling with the nuns’ that’s coming out early or middle of next year. It’s the first British black gangster film, like the black equivalent to Snatch or something.
Anything else you want to say to LeftLion readers?
Yo’ man, anything you want in life, reach out for it man…it’s nothing. Try and choose something that you love doing. It’s easy to give up after a setback, but just keep pressing on with desire and love for what you do.