Grime | UK Hip-Hop | Garage
It should probably come as little surprise that one of the most legendary UK rappers in my mind is none other than Dizzee Rascal. Having spent the main chunk of my childhood in the 2000’s, I was lucky enough to have various Dizzee classics scattered across my life’s soundtrack.
I also find Dizzee to be a pretty extraordinary artist in the way he seems to have been shifting in and out of mainstream popularity over the course of his musical career, instead of simply going for gold in the early run before fading into irrelevancy. In other words, the best we have heard from Dizzee Rascal isn’t simply tucked into the corner of his early days, which does indeed give me hope that a lot of people may enjoy his seventh studio album as much as I did.
E3 AF is the most recent body of work from Dizzee Rascal, following his 2017 album Raskit, which admittedly arrived in the final year where I wasn’t properly writing about music. That being said, this is the first Dizzee album that I reviewed.
The only teaser track for E3 AF that I managed to catch was the single “L.L.L.L (Love Life Live Large)”, which I really enjoyed for the warm, festive, and energetic melody that can be found in its production. But along with this, you could argue that it also had a large role to play when it came to getting me to review the album in full upon its release. This track definitely felt convincing enough that Dizzee Rascal is still not letting go of his classic garage/grime energy that has made the most golden of his tunes so timeless. But with that being said, every other tune on this thing was a fresh listen that came with the album itself in my case.
Despite not being nearly as knowledgeable in UK rap artists than in America (oddly enough), I was still relatively impressed by the list of features this album has to offer. While not quite as bold as some of the featured artists found on 2013’s The Fifth, the features on this album all seem to thematically fit with this album’s aesthetic.
And speaking of such, the aesthetic of this album is arguably the most dividing aspect of the project amongst listeners. E3 AF is arguably the most reminiscent of Dizzee Rascal’s debut album Boy In Da Corner since…well…Boy In Da Corner. And for those who love Dizzee for the more recently-conceived smash hits, an album like this might be a turn off. But for me personally, I can definitely at least appreciate how this album brings us what feels like Dizzee Rascal in his most natural guise. But despite being so true to Dizzee’s early days, his classic style feels more current than ever in this modern musical climate.
And while this allows the album to be consistent stylistically, I feel that the tracks do feel relatively unique enough to stand out from each-other. Especially tracks like “Body Loose”, which feels like a solid attempt to recapture that club vibe that made “Dance Wiv Me” such a classic, and also “Don’t Be Dumb” which sees both Dizzee Rascal and Ocean Wisdom go in hard.
I feel that the burning question with this album, is can it pass as another resurgence in relevancy for Dizzee Rascal? The answer to that is hard to pin down at this point. And while I wouldn’t say that as it stands today, E3 AF is my favourite Dizzee Rascal project out there, I would still predict that there is still plenty of time for it to fully grow on myself and other listeners.
Favourite Tracks: That’s Too Much | L.L.L.L | Don’t Be Dumb
Least Favourite Track: Eastside
Dirtee Stank Recording Limited | Universal Music Operations Limited | Island Records