On his third album, Mercury Prize-winning rapper Dizzee Rascal has cleaned up his grime sound with concessions to other, more popular styles. Some may deem them commercially strategic, but they sound like the prerogatives of someone whose imagination has grown with his reputation. “Old school” is referenced verbally more than once and could apply to The Bomb Squad-like menace of the single “Sirens” or even the summery hip-hop soul of “Da Feelin'” (“Girls are lookin’ fine …”).
The guest shot by Houston’s UGK on “Where’s Da G’s” gives Dizzee a chance to try out his mush-mouth East London delivery on the Dirty South, with the result being that the Dirty South comes to Dizzee, not vice versa. “Dreaming outside the ‘hood,” as he recommends on “World Outside,” means he’s become more of his own man than he ever was, and so he doesn’t have to brag or act all gangsta in order to make his point. He’s just got to tell the truth, even if it’s not particularly sexy. “Buy your house before you buy your car,” he advises wannabe rappers on the invaluable “Hard Back,” and “aside from making money, keep lovin’ what you do.” To paraphrase De La Soul: Forget hard, Dizzee is wise.