Album review: Dizzee Rascal, The Fifth Dirtee (Stank/Island)
Album of the Week: Rapscallion rapper's cheeky charm is wearing a bit thin
With 2009's Tongue n' Cheek, Dizzee Rascal demonstrated how ably his rapscallion charm could cross over to a mainstream audience. But four years is a long time in street pop, and The Fifth demonstrates how quickly that same charm can curdle.
It's not that it's a particularly bad album, just that the more maverick elements that gave Dizzee his engaging appeal have been ironed out, possibly in the hunt for a broader transatlantic audience. While tracks like the saucy "Arse Like That" and the London-celebrating "Love This Town" are still, in their own ways, proudly parochial. And the fairly routine nature of the backing tracks means that The Fifth lacks some of the distinctive berserker spirit that characterised its predecessors.
Take "Goin' Crazy", the duet with Robbie Williams: it's a pleasant enough striding groove, but its protestations of lunacy are nowhere near as potent as "Bonkers", which may be why it struggled to reach the top five as a single - though even that modest performance outstripped the three other tracks released as singles, including the hysterical "Bassline Junkie", Dizzee's aggressive assertion of his love for "big dirty stinkin' bass".
One of the more interesting grooves is the wheezing synth pulse of "Superman", built around samples from Laurie Anderson's "O Superman", adapted to support Dizzee's work ethic: "I'm an over-achiever, and I could do with a breather". Not, of course, that he lacks recreational skills: the majority of the album is given over to fun time, from the Caribbean beach boast "Life Keeps Moving On" to "We Don't Play Around", which proclaims exactly the opposite, an insatiable appetite for partying, "gettin' high on my birthday stash/ I just wanna have a good time and get smashed".
This, perhaps, is the most disappointing aspect of The Fifth: the disappearance of the more thoughtful side revealed in older tracks like "Can't Tek No More". It's as if, like some rap cliché, Dizzee's been taken hostage by his own earlier hedonist litany of "money money money, girls girls, cash cash". Which is, frankly, far more fun for him than for us.
Download: Superman; Love This Town; Bassline Junkie
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Madonna claims jokes about her age tantamount to racism: 'No one would dare to say a degrading remark about being black'
Seinfeld is laughing all the way to the bank: TV show generates $3.1bn in repeat fees since final episode
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Blade Runner sequel: Harrison Ford confirmed to return with Denis Villeneuve directing
All fiction follows one of six basic storylines, according to new research
House of Cards season 3 premiere, review: Has Frank Underwood gone soft?
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia