You ever had it where something makes so much sense in your head, you’re astonished that it hasn’t happened already? Whether it be the perfect casting for the next James Bond or the realisation that we should always have had peanut butter hot chocolate available to us once it was invented, I’m sure everybody has one to mind.
A comeback for Dizzee Rascal. Why the hell hadn’t it happened already? One of the pioneers of grime music, Dizzee’s voice would always be welcome in a genre that has never been stronger and with more mainstream appeal than it is right now. Their true grime credentials vary, but artists such as Skepta, Giggs, Stormzy, J Hus, Ghetts & Bugzy Malone have covered more bases than perhaps grime ever thought possible in popular culture.
And yet, when Dizzee did finally decide to put pen to paper once more for a grime album, its build-up couldn’t really have been more understated. Promo single aside in Space, a decent record that serves as a decent taster for the rest of the album rather than being its one and only banger, I’m fairly certain Raskit’s release will have passed a lot of potentially interested buyers by.
However, here we are, and with Raskit, it’s immediately refreshing from Focus, the first song on the album, to hear Dizzee back in his natural musical habitat. This is as close to the massive 2003 Boy In Da Corner album in terms of style and focus (intended) as Dizzee Rascal has ever been since. If anything, Raskit showcases an artist more comfortable with themselves as an artist and more confident to take on the verses that may have looked insurmountable to a younger Mr Rascal.
The Other Side is a prime example of this, and perhaps the best in showcasing that this album is for those leaning more towards the hardcore side of the grime fanbase. A simplistic but hype-ready beat makes way for most of the track for a masterclass in verses, and some of the best rapping Dizzee has put to paper.
Raskit continues in this vein in terms of style for most of the 57-minute length, which admittedly makes the album sound like it contains one or two songs too many. The infuriatingly repetitive and quite poppy sounding She Knows What She Wants, plus the fairly forgettable Make It Last would be my picks to have been left off the record.
What I can praise this album for is for steering clear of the concessions that a lot of grime albums make in order to boost potential sales numbers (admittedly, I would be shocked if Raskit makes 10k in its first week), and also avoiding a lot of the corny/goofy material that can hold a number of talented grime artists back. Wot U Gonna Do? is a song that sounds like it could have been bogged down in some awful and unnecessary sampling, but thankfully Dizzee steers clear and lets his natural talents shine through.
In fact, everything feels so close-knit and refined that at times you find yourself wishing that Raskit would just push its production boundaries that little bit further. It becomes clear midway through the track list that Raskit is not an album where you can easily pick out its faulty tracks and moments, but equally as difficult to finger the highlights, due to how structured/samey (depending on how harsh you are feeling) everything is.
Slow Your Roll is an outlier to this theory, though, and also is the best song on the album. The production is low-key and wonderful, it envelopes into something stronger and stronger throughout, letting Dizzee shine even further than his vocals alone allow on what is clearly one of the more emotional songs on Raskit.
If Raskit is systematic of what we can now come to expect of Dizzee Rascal for the rest of his career, then we should all be very excited, as this album has served as a solid and enjoyable palette cleanser to what had been a quiet and yet messy number of years in Dizzee’s musical history. Standalone though, it lacks the killer punch of albums must surely be compared to, and doesn’t advertise a full repertoire of skills needed to attract a brand-new following in this new age of music, of which Dizzee Rascal still doesn’t feel like a full-time member.