Dizzee Rascal fans reflect on discovering Boy In Da Corner
Tower hamlets’ self-made pioneer of grime, Dizzee Rascal’s breakthrough album Boy In Da Corner was a rare blend of old versus new.
Bars laced with authenticity and ironic humour, were resident on tracks such as Sittin Here, Brand New Day and of course Jezebel. While Round We Go narrated the all too familiar cyclical reality of under-privileged working class youngsters. The musical backdrop to the album however, an amalgamation of broken beats, icy synths and heavy bass suggested a nouveau sound, that mirrored its industrial roots. Sony Ericssons were ablaze with I Luv U, as Dizzee’s 140bpm sound define a generation – provocative and uniquely British.
The pronounced footprint Boy In Da Corner made on the music scene is still recognizable thirteen years later. In March this year Red Bull Music Academy presented the idea for Dizzee Rascal to play the record in New York. This stateside airing of the album galvanized British audiences into creating the “Dizzee Rascal please perform Boy In Da Corner live in London” petition. Cries were met. On 22 October, Dizzee shook the framework of London’s Copperbox Arena as part of the Academy’s London programme of events. In order to determine the significance of Boy In Da Corner and its maker to this day, we spoke to loyal attendees of the London gig.
Akinola Davies Jr
I guess the album winning a mercury effectively put grime on the map and validated a lot of music young people listened to at the time and still today. My favourite track is controversially, Jezebel. I’m really interested in how the decisions you make when your younger, particularly for women, effect you when growing up. Also I like the sad yet uplifting message in Brand New Day. Both tracks have a lot of substance.
I first heard I Luv U on Channel U, it was fun and you went into school and everyone was talking about it – that was the culture back then. It was a pretty seminal album that acquired mainstream attention. The Mercury cemented it as a genre that’s here to stay. Brand New Day is my favourite, it connects to everyone and the lyrics are so poignant.
I was in year 8 in science class and someone had it on their MP3 player… from then on it was love. I think it being one of the first monumental grime albums to come out and the fact it was the foundations of future things made it shake the scene. Stop Dat is my best track as its so hype and the beat so live.
I was year 8 in school in Birmingham when I first heard it. I think it’s the first classic grime album and don’t feel anyone’s matched that level. Its originality and ability to capture that moment in our youth has been done perfectly even down to the cover art. I love Brand New Day for its perspective, it’s got that street narrative but from a good place.
Tanya Byfield and Cherelle Byfield
Cherelle: I remember tuning into the album and thinking what the hell is this? Boy In Da Corner is legendary. Nowadays grime is more accepted into the mainstream, but back when Dizzee released this album it wasn’t. I Luv U is so nostalgic and I was obsessed with the video and wanted his tracksuit.
Tanya: I Listened to it again the other day and I love every single track. I can’t decide which is best, it’s like picking between my babies!
Boy In Da Corner has the most distinctive and coherent grime sound, all the instruments used throughout the album are the same yet manipulated differently. Nobody else has succeeded in recreating the grittiness and ruggedness of this album and, for me it’s the core of what grime really sounds like. Dizzee uses so many hooks and bridges that are distinctively London. One of my oldest memories is of listening to Sidewinder from when he and Slimzee were doing sets. Brand New Day has to be my favourite, the sounds are very disconcerting but it works. It takes us back to the source of the genre, you get the freshness and realness of it.
Wheels In Motion
After first playing Boy In Da Corner for the first time I knew it was getting played constantly for the foreseeable future. It’s the first Mercury Prize winner from an independent artist from the streets. 13 years on and it is still top shelf and will never be knocked off in my eyes. Stop Dat is my favourite, I was quite an aggressive kid when growing up so the tune really speaks to me.
It was summertime and I was in my room with my sister, I just popped one of the CDs into the player and I’ve just been loving it ever since. It was one of the pinnacle albums of grime and it still has a strong effect on me and many others. Hold Ya Mouth is my favourite track – the production is cold!
All photography by Bardha Krasniqi