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
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Amy Winehouse film director: 'I wanted to show the fun, bright-eyed girl we didn't know'
Orange Is The New Black season 3 episode 1, review: The Ross and Rachel-ness of Piper and Alex is starting to grate
The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair at Glastonbury is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Guillaume Tell, Royal Opera House, review: Gang rape and stripping naked of female actor met with boos
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato