Dizzee Rascal
Maths + English
Definitive Jux
*** (3.5/5.0)
Without having ever intended to, I’ve followed the career of U.K. hip-hop artist Dizzee Rascal closely for the last five years. I’ve reviewed each album, I’ve seen him perform in the U.S., and I’ve even turned a few friends onto his video-game beats and frantic, high-pitched Brit slang. Which is all just the long route to saying I suppose I’m fairly qualified to cock my head in frowning, eyeball-rolling disappointment at the new album Maths + English. It is well known that this young, promising MC is a devotee of Jay-Z. No harm in that. Love him or hate him, Jay’s got skills, personality, and a unique lyrical flow. Most importantly, he’s his own man. Dizzee, however, can’t decide whether he wants to spit consciousness-style hip hop (as found on regretful, reflective opener “World Outside”) or continue shrieking juvenile taunts (‘Suk My Dick”) and shouting boastful odes to drug slangin’ and East London’s ghetto violence (“Where’s Da G’s”). This dude is talented and funny, and he might even be a real pain in the ass to his community, but he’s no thug. It is painful to see him after all these years still trying to figure out who he wants to be.—Arlie Carstens