Dizzee Rascal interview

Big ups.  Dis ‘ere be da words of none udder dan Dizzee Rascal.  ‘Im be da grime king uv da UK.  ‘e sez ‘e ain’t surprised by ‘is success wid da white college kids; cos “dey’re smarter” dan de normal hip-hop fans.  ‘e ain’t makin’ music for da kiddies, dough.  ‘is albums, Boy In Da Corner and Showtime, is ‘bout life and perseverance in da ghettoes of East London.  ‘e likes da new Outkast, Timbaland, and my main man Fitty Cent, but ‘im tinks dere be some rubbish on da radio, too.  Boy In Da Corner won da Mercury Prize in da UK last year, and Showtime ‘as been jus‘ as acclaimed.  You can viddy ‘is latest on Run the Road, a grime-rap compilation what also got Wiley, Kano, Lady Sovereign, and D Double E.  ‘im done found success in da areas where ‘e’s never been ‘imself; my man never went to college, so ‘e don‘t tink he knows how to relate do da kids, but dey buy ‘is dings anyway.  But da man ain’t bout da Arthur Ashe; ‘im just wants da teapots to like ‘is Turkish.

Alright, I got a bit deep in the Cockney rhyming slang there.  Sorry.  Instead of that last sentence, read this:   “But Mr. Rascal does not perform and record his art strictly for monetary gain.  He simply wishes for the youth of the world to enjoy his music.”

‘im rabbitted wiv me ‘bout hip-hop, da bread and honey, and da shootin’ at da Nas show in London, which din’t hurt no one, but was right Mariah Carey anyway.

Despite appearing to hate mainstream rap (his promo posters boldly proclaim “Fuck da glitz and glamma), Dizzee is not as violently anti-bling as he seems.  He told me that he doesn’t really hate that style of music (in fact, he listens to a ton of it), it’s just not central to what he wants to do.  British emcees haven’t had the sort of financial success that guys like, oh, Jay-Z have had, so Dizzee think that they wouldn’t know how to rap about being rich if they wanted to.  To him, success is just being allowed to put out his records.    “I never ‘ad much,” he told me, but the bottom-of-the-barrel life he led until Boy In Da Corner became God’s gift to hip-hop has taught him the value (and the flippancy) of cash.  When I asked him what records he listened to when he was growing up, he proudly and definitively told me that Nirvana’s In Utero was his absolute favorite.  Though this seems a bit crazy at first (and, rest assured, it is), Kurt Cobain’s fractured and bleak view from the outside must have felt comforting to a poor kid from Bow, East London.   Like Cobain, Dizzee wasn’t a great student, focusing instead on music as he moved from one school to the next.  There’s only a slight difference between a black kid from East London liking Nirvana and a college kid from New Orleans liking Dizzee Rascal.

Dizzee was surprisingly quiet and reserved for the entire conversation, until I mentioned the Nas show at London’ Brixton Academy, where he was rumored to have been on stage when a concertgoer fired a gun in the crowded theatre.

Marty Garner:  Every report I’ve read about this London Nas shooting …
Dizzee Rascal:  Bloody ‘ell, man, that’s fookin’ a rush!  You got that quick, it just ‘appened yestuhday!

MG:  Were you there?
DR:  Yeah, I performed with Nas.

MG:  So what I heard was that after the shooting, you and Nas got back on stage and kept rocking.
DR:  Yeah yeah (laughs). It was awroight.

MG:  So what did you do when you realized what was going on?
DR:  I said “OH!”  I’ve seen fings like dat too many times.  I didn’t even ‘ear da shots.

MG:  Yeah, I know you’ve been around a lot of violence, but does it ever cross your mind before you go on stage that something like this might happen?  Do you have any kind of fear of being shot on stage?
DR:  Nah, my biggest fear before I go on is, like, “Am I gonna rock this crowd or am I gonna be flat?”  I’m gonna do this shit right or it ain‘t gonna ‘appen.

MG:  So even after something like the Nas thing, you just rock on stage without worry?
DR:  Yeah yeah yeah, violence used to be every day, it was an every day fing.  Not an every day fing no more.  As long as people don‘t get ‘urt.  We don‘t need to fuck shit up.  Can’t let that happen.

MG:  Yeah, I hope that doesn’t happen.
DR:  Ahh, wicket, man.  Thanks.



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