Dizzee Rascal

Maths + English | XL
By MATTHEW GASTEIER  |  June 12, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars
dizzee_rascal_inside
Five years after Dizzee Rascal’s stark, revolutionary Boy in da Corner, he and the grime genre he helped popularize are struggling through an awkward growing phase. That debut’s once-abrasive but always brilliant beats seem surprisingly accessible in today’s abstract and atmospheric hip-hop landscape. Maths + English is the British MC’s third album, and he’s trying to find his place in this brave new world grime helped create. Two pop-flirting collaborations — “Where’s Da G’s” with Houston’s Underground Kingz and “Temptation” with Arctic Monkeys lead singer Alex Turner — go over great for both Dizzee and his guests; Lily Allen, on the other hand, crashes and burns on “Wanna Be,” a nursery-rhyme-like silly dis track that’s both clichéd and grating. The more prevalent style on this disc looks back to earlier British electronic movements, like IDM, breakbeat, and especially 2-step’s crackling drum licks and soulful synth tones. “World Outside” could have been produced by Aphex Twin, whereas the horn-sporting “Flex” is an unapologetic dance track. Boy in da Corner may be the classic Dizzee will be forced to chase for the rest of his career, but Maths + English shows him still striving.
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