There was much speculation that Showtime
, the second release from 2003 Mercury Music Prize winner Dizzee Rascal, would find this UK garage prodigy turning his back on the Hackney estates and tightening ties with the American hip-hop fraternity. Thankfully, the album presents a Dizzee that's bolder and brassier, but no less indebted to his grimy past. It's all here--lo-tech video game production ("Stand Up Tall"), bizarre threats of violence ("Everywhere"), and frequent flashes of lunatic humor that elevate Dizzee above his garage peers. "Dreams," for example, uses a sample of Captain Sensible
's 1982 hit "Happy Talk" to hilarious effect. Sober reflection remains part of the Rascal worldview too, as on "Imagine," a truly fragile wisp of synth and strings reminiscent of Aphex Twin
's ambient moments. But balance is crucial, and that's provided by the stone-cold "playa" anthem "Girls," performed alongside curiously high-pitched Dizzee affiliate Marga Man. --Louis Pattison
Now comes the new chapter, the new album Showtime. Showtime is a bigger-sounding album than Boy: funny, sonically-staggering, a 14 track volcanic ride of crazy wordplay, ghetto techno and bottom-heavy bass. The album is finished. Dizzee Rascal quite clearly hasn't.