Dizzee Rascal

Maths + English | XL
By MATTHEW GASTEIER  |  June 12, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars
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.
Related: Going on sale: April 14, 2006, Burial, On the racks: October 31, 2006, More more >
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