Dizzee Rascal - E3 AF Music Album Reviews

Three years after making an ostensible but half-hearted return to his roots, the grime icon more convincingly reconciles underground instincts with pop ambitions.

Three years ago, Dizzee Rascal announced he was going back to his roots. While he’d been chasing pop hits in L.A. and Miami with will.i.am and Robbie Williams, the sound he’d birthed at the turn of the millennium had found a new elder statesman in Skepta, a crown prince in Stormzy, and a more lucrative benchmark for success. Grime was not only cool, it was charting. Politicians shamelessly cashed in cultural capital with claims that this fine British export was soundtracking their ministerial drives. So Dizzee revived his teenage nickname and came to collect his dues from the scene. The resulting album, 2017’s Raskit, was well timed and had its moments; critics, seduced by its familiarity, lapped it up. But Dizzee, sounding tired and frustrated, was mostly phoning it in: He rose to the Wiley bait, recounted old pirate-radio tales, protested too much. By contrast, E3 AF sounds like Dizzee making the album he wants to make, rather than the one he thinks people want to hear.
The album’s name nods to Dizzee’s status as a born-and-raised Londoner and grime original (E3 being the east London postcode that both he and grime grew up in), as well as his Ghanaian and Nigerian heritage—“Aff” is an archaic slur that Dizzee has reclaimed, proudly referring to himself as the “E3 African.” And while the acronymic “as fuck” of the title will no doubt stir a well-worn row—that he’s far from “E3 as fuck” and more like “far from E3” most of the time—it’s not one that Dizzee entertains here. Recorded entirely in London over the last three years, the album is grounded in the capital’s rich Black musical history. “God Knows” is Dizzee at his abrasive, urgent best: a rattle of jungle snares, skittish drill hats, ten-ton kicks, and rudeboy basslines. He spars on the track with P Money­—a bullish South London MC defined by his steadfast dedication to the grime sound—and distances himself from his more persistent critics with bars like “Trying hard but you ain’t maintaining/Everybody, bar you, that you’re blaming.” As if buffing his credentials, he continues to trade verses with grime Hall of Famers throughout the album: A first studio-minted collaboration with Kano and Ghetts may have been long overdue, but it immediately sounds crisp on “Eastside”; Boy Better Know member Frisco, steadfast as his unwavering hairline, is yet to deliver a bad verse and continues that run on “That’s Too Much” (with D Double E throwing in a few of his iconic ad-libs for good measure).

Brief and assured at 10 tracks, E3 AF is the first time since 2007’s Maths + English that Dizzee has managed to tread the extremes of both his underground and mainstream iterations convincingly on a single album—helped, of course, by the interim injection of grime, garage, and drum’n’bass into the pop canon. He’s able to eschew hit-factory producers for scene insiders, as well as getting back behind the boards himself for a number of tracks. Deekline adds impeccable 2-step swing and euphoric yearning to “You Don’t Know”; proto-grime pioneer Platinum 45 provides “Eastside” with its menacing bassline and whip-snap snares; Splurgeboys employ the kind of throwback sampling that’s catnip to old-school ravers on “Body Loose.” When the veteran grime MC wants to try his hand at UK drill, on “Act Like You Know,” he brings in the Brigade’s MK the Plug and Vader. Within these familiar environs, Dizzee’s performances soar. If he takes a breath on the rapid-fire rap confessional “Energies + Powers,” you wouldn’t know it; his effortless garage flow on “You Don’t Know” adds panache to shallow boasts about bottles, cars, and Instagram clout.

The album isn’t without its dull moments. Forced choruses remain a habit that Dizzee finds hard to throw off: “Love Life Live Large” is about as stirring as the “Live Love Laugh” decor that litters the homes of middle England; the nauseating, Chris Martin-esque hook of “Be Incredible”—with its inspiro-quote reel of “The time is now to make it right, and be incredible” (etc. ad nauseam)—does nothing but puncture what might otherwise have been the album’s introspective “Stay Positive” moment.

It may have taken him another three years to get there, but Dizzee has finally bedded down at home again, rediscovering himself in the process. E3 AF caps a period in which he’s seen more mainstream success than he could have imagined, all while being harried by a grime scene with abandonment issues. This could be the album that pleases both sides equally—no small feat in such fractious times.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Dizzee Rascal - E3 AF Music Album Reviews Dizzee Rascal - E3 AF Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, November 09, 2020 Rating: 5

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