A hefty, 4x4 drum beat comes crashing through the speakers. Dizzee’s familiar East London drawl commands the man behind the buttons to turn the bass up. A standard MC manouevre, and entirely acceptable. Once the crackling low frequencies rumble in, Dizzee amicably agrees, and starts to yell ‘BIG DIRTY STINKING BASS’ over and over on top. Umm, what? At first, I thought that he was pissing about and doing a version of this Masterchef remix:
It soon became apparent that he wasn’t.
Now, I’m not coming here just to slag him off, I love Dizzee and almost everything he does. And I love this track too, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s a party track, and should be taken as such. It’s fun and it’s very dumb. He’s having a laugh rapping it, he’s having a laugh in the video. Don’t go crying back to your copy of Boy In Da Corner, hoping for a blistering account of urban existence amongst the estates of the east, just turn up the bass and enjoy it.
He has a wry sense of humour, and is very self aware of his position within mainstream culture: he’s still tied to his underground roots but subsumes this within a chart friendly, festival headlining, Olympic sponsoring appearance. So a track like this attacks exactly that concept: bassline culture that is so necessary within an alternative urban sound, but is slowly being taken into the mainstream, with the mainlining of dubstep et al as a ‘thing’. Dizzee knows about bass. Boy In Da Corner is full of the stuff, all threatening subs and broken drums. Whereas this is a party tune for the ‘student ravers’ daubed in neon paint and snakebite. The kind of cunts that go ‘eurgh this tune is so dirty it makes me want to shit in my hands and clap’ whilst mangling their face into some hideous gurning mask for the ‘bassface’ ritual. He knows that, and he’s ok with that, so you should be too.
The lyrics are built for drunkenly rapping along to your pissed up mate who’s just had a little sick round by the bins. Simple, catchy and overtly stupid. The opening lines of his first verse are so bad they make your inner Hemingway ache, and your Rebecca Black jump for joy:
‘I’m a fiend for a big dirty bassline, when I hear one I’ll have a great time’.
A great time?! We’re all having a great time Dizzee! We’re having fun! I can’t see how depressingly awful the inside of this Walkabout actually is, so I must be having fun! We’re having fun, right?
I’m not saying that he’s lost his skill either; his blistering return to form on D Double E’s ‘Bluku Bluku’ from 2011 was devastating, a guest verse that derails the entire song. As soon as he leaps in, seemingly from nowhere, and announces that “it’s the E3 African, ready for action”, he means business. His work with The Newham Generals under his Dirtee Stank label and his Dirtee TV mixtapes is every part the visceral lyricism that we’ve all come to hunger for. When he wants to, he can turn it on.
This is all part of his charm, then. He is in such a position now that he can both nod to the mainstream, kill a several thousand strong crowd at V Fest and still rep for the underground. This new track isn’t groundbreaking, he’s clearly not even trying that hard. But it’s entertaining, and that’s what he wants to do. Mission accomplished. We should all just wait to see what he tries next.