Arches, Glasgow, Thu 31 May; Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Fri 1 Jun
For many the turn of the new millennium was a bleak time for British music. A mixture of saccharine garage, imported nu metal and Travis had ripped the spine from the charts, leaving a charmless corpse and no respite in sight. Few though could have predicted the arrival of a then 16 year-old MC from East London going by the name of Dizzee Rascal.
Here was a British rapper, a concept once almost an oxymoron, that appealed not only to pirate radio audiences but also the chin stroking and canapé munching Mercury Music Prize committee, topping it off by selling over 100,000 albums. As scare stories of ‘hoodies’ and ASBOs clung to the news agenda the claustrophobic Boy in Da Corner, with its tales of teen pregnancies and street violence, stood as the first portrait of a Blair-era inner city youth that had previously been voiceless.
It seems almost fitting then that the release of his third album, Maths and English, should coincide with the Prime Minister leaving office. Sill retaining the experimental production and aggression of its predecessors, signs of his long professed admiration for Nirvana have emerged with the riffage of single ‘Sirens’ and a collaboration with Artic Monkeys. Rascal’s live performances have similarly matured from his pirate radio days, combining the rabid aggression of a grime rave with the panache of a man who has already toured the world at the age of 22. With British music’s most exciting prospect coming of age, the results should not be missed.