The first verse of the first song on Bad Intentions goes: “They don’t know a thing about me / They don’t know a thing about me. / They don’t know a thing about me… ’cause they don’t know a. They don’t know a… Aaaa-ah. Aaaah-ah”.
It seems ineloquent. A sentence stretched into a verse because he can’t quite explain himself. You can feel the frustration. Bad Intentions is an album that wants to be loved, but is totally baffled about how to achieve it. Be serious, show the real Dappy? Joke around? Just get petulantly enraged?
He doesn’t lack bravado. When on Fuck Them he swings at “ring-tone rappers”, you wonder if he thinks he’s Ice-T, despite reality suggesting Mousse-T is closer. When on Rockstar he sings “they say that I’m dangerous”, you’re left pondering who ‘they’ are and did ‘they’ happen to explain why?
Well, give him the mobile number of anyone with the temerity to dislike N-Dubz, and yes, maybe. But the anger, at anyone and everyone, seems paranoid rather than menacing. Not that he helps himself: if the world genuinely is out to get you, it might be worth empathising with someone other than Chris Brown (as Dappy does here, twice). You know, someone who isn’t redefining what it means to be an obnoxious prick in the 21st Century.
Musically, Bad Intentions is so lacking in danger it could be given a Lion Mark. It’s sleek chart-ready fodder. There’s a David Guetta one, a Tinie Tempah one and one laden with strings. Perhaps the best measure of the risk level of an album is the guest stars on it. Bad Intentions has The Wanted and Queen‘s Brian May, neither of which – for all their myriad gifts – would usually be tasked with bringing the peril to a recording.
You can turn paranoia, profanity and tasteless humour into a art form. Just ask Eminem. Clearly Dappy would love Bad Intentions to be considered in a similar vein to The Marshall Mathers LP. But the problem is that it misses out on replicating anything good from it. However, it does manage to collect the full set of negatives. It’s misogynistic, crude, immature and desperate to shock. It lacks wit, inventiveness and even the decency to stick to its cause. That’s the worst feature, aside from the shameless breaking of Turbo B’s first law of rapping: don’t rhyme things with cancer.
There are moments which aren’t awful. The ballad Good Intentions is predictable, but delivered with an unexpected degree of earnestness. But it’s followed by Gino Skit, which delights in ripping the piss out of it, sabotaging any good feeling. Similarly it’s hard not to giggle at the baiting of the careers of The X Factor winners on I’m Coming (Tarzan Part 2) – provided you can set aside the natural tendency to ask if people surrounded by windows should hurl fuck-off boulders – but it ends with an auto-tuned equivalent of those ‘THIS IS A PARODY’ disclaimers that bookend American TV shows. It’s as if Dappy is worried he might actually have offended someone.
There are a small number of places where Dappy’s mix of cartoonish swagger, bilious rage and sheer cheek form something inappropriately, but undeniably, funny. But finding them on Bad Intentions is like diving for diamonds in a septic tank. Occasional glitters, but the rest of the time you’re swimming through shit.