Dizzee Rascal Raskit Island Records
For all the excitable rumours and talk of reignited beef on Dizzee Rascal’s new album Raskit, the record itself fails to deliver on the hype. Instead, it drops as a frustrated monologue of beats and bars that neither celebrate past glories, nor offer much hope of future ones.
By removing grime from the conversation in the initial announcement, Dizzee risked alienating not only day one fans who’d hoped Raskit would be an extension of early albums Boy In Da Corner and Showtime, but also those who grew up listening to him in the charts. In this sense, Raskit feels confused and contextless.
Although not a direct riposte to successful grime albums by Skepta, Stormzy and former mentor Wiley, there’s the sense that Raskit was written as a proverbial ‘fuck you’ to all those who have doubted his mettle. Musically, it might mark a return to the raw beats and bars formula that he mastered so powerfully as a 16-year-old, but where Boy In Da Corner still sounds like the future in 2017, Raskit struggles to hammer home any sort of impression.
That said, there are moments of undoubted technical shine. On opener Focus, perhaps a message-to-self motif for the album itself, Dizzee laces a twisted, sci-fi pearler of a beat straight out of the Boy In Da Corner playbook, while from a lyrical perspective, he remains a master of switching up flows on a sixpence. On Make It Last for example, he spits at half-time pace, while on Ghost — the track immediately following — he flows at warp speed, almost inhaling the beat underneath him.
One other talking point is the absence of features on Raskit. But who would Dizzee have turned to for features in any case? You get the feeling that, drawn-out Wiley beef aside, Dizzee no longer commands the same respect from his peers that his former mentor does. On that front, Raskit does see Dizzee finally address Wiley on a record for the first time. “Tell Willy I don’t need a pen pal/ Stop writing me these letters, I don’t know what to do with them,” he barks on The Other Side, a fleeting remark but one that carries the most weight on the album. Wiley’s never-ending quest for reconciliation between the two has plagued every move Dizzee has or hasn’t made for years and here, on an album spiked with frustration, he sounds sick to the back teeth of it.
It’s this tiredness that unfortunately defines the spirit of Raskit, a record which initially hits hard but then reveals itself as somewhat shallow, written at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons. No longer the pioneer he once was, it feels as though Dizzee Rascal is playing catch-up on a race that’s already been won.