Boomkat Product Review:
How the fuck is this 20 years old? The GOAT for the grimy generation is treated to a bells ’n whistles reissue including 14 unreleased cuts and instrumentals on its definitive expanded vinyl edition.
Dizzee Rascal’s prodigious debut album is a landmark of British rap and dance music. Legendarily initiated as a 16 year old MC with a Rinse FM show, who had just dropped out of school and was getting into mischief on his estate in Bow, East London, ‘Boy In Da Corner’ is the most important LP of its epoch. It coldly defined a road-and-aerial level transition from D&B to UKG in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s, and the way it became twisted up and mutated in translation by yutes such as Dizzee, who couldn’t afford to keep buying the slew of new UKG 12”s, and would turn to his school computers, and the studios of Wiley and co, to make his own beats to rap on.
Inspired by Three 6 Mafia and Dipset as much as Dillinja’s distorted heft and the proto-grime of Geeneus et al’s Pay As You Go, or Marcus Nasty’s N.A.S.T.Y. crew within his proximity, the results of Dizzee's first effort simply came out sounding singularly weird, skewing all the above with traces of R&B, a limited production knowledge, and a taste for bashy and curdled sounds that would set the bar for new British rap and dance. Crucially it undid the clunkier cliches of prevailing UK hip hop, ditching their dead flows and dogmatic production styles in favour of a rudely upfront and often avant-daft approach that clearly clicked with thousands of adolescent bedrooms and Vauxhall Corsas, not to mention claiming the (now cursed) Mercury Music Prize in 2003.
The album’s legacy is an indelible imprint on grime at root and branch, unanimously hailed as its ground zero in parallel to the ruck of now-classic pirate radio sets, including Dizze’s own clash with Crazy Titch. Its classic status is now cemented and expanded with an inclusion of 14 officially unreleased cuts on the 20th anniversary edition, many of them well-known to longtime fiends, such as the icy arp-led minimalism of ‘Vexed’ and the computer game-sampling ‘Street Fighter’, plus the Bollywood-styled remix of ‘I Luv You’, and bellicose leng of ‘Ready 4 War’.
20 years later, it remains a masterclass in following your nose and holding your line against the grain.