The East London rapper delivers some certified bangers, and touches on his legal woes
Eleven years ago Dizzee Rascal released the mixtape single Bassline Junkie. Behind the song’s novelty appeal and humorous video treatment, the uptempo production courtesy of MJ Cole gave him a raw energy that the rest of his music at the time was sorely lacking. Now with his eighth album Don’t Take It Personal Dizzee is delving deeper into UK garage and bassline, along with smatterings of vintage grime and drill, and he sounds more consistently comfortable in this setting than he has in years.
London Boy is an early highlight, as a bassy beat underpins cocky, brutal rhymes from Dizzee (“Snatch your soul, finders keepers / fuck your couch, that’s where my feet is / fuck your life, shit on your foetus / can’t school me, I know what greaze is”) and grime veteran Frisco comes along for the ride with some nifty bars of his own. Elsewhere Swerve And Pivot pays homage to Pulse X’s raggedy bass hits, while the second verse of Tell Me About It sees a childhood friend of Dizzee criticise him for being nostalgic about his hometown despite having left.
Get Out The Way is an enjoyably pugnacious foray into drill, a rapid-fire verse sandwiched between the explosive delivery of BackRoad Gee’s hook (“Fling him in the boot, he’s finished / wave my hand, that’s good riddance / burukutu up front like Messi / oh Lord, please protect me”). Pov is a daringly simple concept, as words such as T-I-M-E and R-U-D-E are spelled out for rhyming convenience, but backed by 4×4 beats and a cavalcade of synthy noises it becomes irresistibly fun.
Dizzee has had significant legal trouble since 2020’s E3 AF, and there are oblique references to this on several tracks. You Can Have Dat, however, is a direct appeal to the mother of his children, triplet Fathers4Justice flows over a strummed guitar loop – if he hadn’t been convicted of assaulting her in 2022 perhaps saying this to her face would have been easier.
These awkward vibes also pop up in the album’s closing track, How Does It Feel, where Dizzee shoots for confidence but ends up sounding decidedly ambivalent. It’s a shame, as these songs (plus an aimless hook from Not3s on Here For Now) are all that stand in the way of Don’t Take It Personal being a genuine return to form.