At this stage most of us have seen some unlikely hero dance their way through -Bonkers’. Be it the drunk in the corner of your local who found some last embers of energy to move to it or even, as State bore witness to at a wedding this summer, several folks aged 50-plus havin it large when the chorus comes in. It’s happened everywhere. Tune of the summer, mighty-mega-mash-monster hit, whatever you bloody want to call it you’d have to dead to dislike the tune. Or, possibly, be a Counting Crows fan.
Dizzee Rascal’s fourth long player, Tongue N Cheek – so hyped as his conversion to commercialism – thankfully takes the obvious route of having the song start out proceedings. Better still is the quick realisation that it’s not the best track on the record. The album’s first four songs run like some sort of manic night out compressed into 12 and half bouncing minutes, beginning with -Bonkers’ and ending with the unfortunately rather flat -Freaky Freaky’ where Dizzee’s lyrics about sexual conquests sound like a footballer’s conscience read aloud (‘I keep drillin’ -em, thanks a million’, ‘Just know that I bag it before I shag it’ and the lovely, ‘After the show she was on me banana’).
Thankfully squeezed in before this we get frenetic excellence on the double, firstly with the crunching -Road Rage’ (which, bar a lacklustre sub-Prodigy noir synth mid section, keeps the spring in the step of the record superbly) then -Dance Wiv Me’, another publicly rubber-stamped dollop of gold. Those hoping to escape the subject of the recession maybe somewhat taken aback by some of what follows as -Can’t Tek No More’ and -Dirtee Cash’ (which includes a perfectly judged sample of -Money Talks’) concentrate on opposite ends of the problem with one being the Joe Duffy of the record, the other a pre Fine Gael makeover George Lee.
-Can’t Tek No More’ uses a healthy reggae chug to protest against problems from violence in various Cockney manors, along with house prices, money lenders and even congestion charges. While it’s left to the -Dirtee Cash’ to zero in on bankers, politicians and all of the various supposed pillars of society living on borrowed (or tax payers) money and pissing it away ‘every weekend in the West End’. While there’s a healthy anger to the delivery it’s incredible fun nonetheless.
They sandwich the album’s other lowlight, and the only hint of boredom on the entire record actually, -Chillin Wiv da Man Dem’. Elsewhere, there’s the stop-start aping of -Breathe n Stop’ on the enormous sound of -Money, Money’, the laid back swampy oddity that is -Leisure’, then the album’s third fine single, -Holiday’.
Yes, it’s more mainstream than previous efforts but hardly sugar-coated hip hop for the masses. He’s not turned into John Barnes on -World in Motion’ overnight for god’s sake, and for the really fearful there’s really nothing here that will have Maths + English grime disciples running for cover. By the time the artist formerly known as Dylan Mills manages to fit Chris Akabusi into a rhyme about sex movies on album closer -Bad Behaviour’ the new Dizzee (who’s not so different to the old Dizzee) has won our vote anyway. Excellent stuff.