Maths + English is a musical fusion that includes hard bass lines, classic hip-hop samples and the influence of UKâ€™s Grime scene. After receiving five star ratings from Obsever Music Monthly, the Sunday Telegraph and an 8.4 rating from Pitchfork, Dizzee Rascalâ€™s third album might be the arrow that lands in the heart of the music world.
After landing his own shoe in 2005 with Nike and an endorsement deal with Marc Ecko, Dizzee Rascal has made a name for himself in the London hip-hop scene and throughout the world as an original and unique artist. From Brazil to London, New York to Mississippi, the word is getting out that Dizzee Rascal has the â€œMath plus the Englishâ€ to create unforgettable music.
Format Mag goes overseas to talk to Rascal, while on tour in Europe, about his upcoming U.S. release, his views on hip-hop and how he dodged the notion of becoming a statistic. Letâ€™s explore the bass line.
â€œIâ€™ve seen in places like Brazil where you see LA Funk, (itâ€™s pretty much like Miami Bass or some party shit) but they are fucking bringinâ€™ AKs to the partyâ€
Format: The Observer Music Monthly called your album, Maths + English â€œessentialâ€ and followed up with a five-star rating. Do you agree with the idea of the album being a must have and if so, why?
Dizzee: I agree with it being a must have because of the energy Iâ€™ve seen from it around the world. Iâ€™ve been touring everywhere from the UK, Brazil, Australia and places like that. Iâ€™ve been scattering this album in a lot of places and it just makes the people feel happy and people are jumping around like mice. Itâ€™s everybody from the hooligan thugs to the older people, in the same place, wildinâ€™ out and having fun. Itâ€™s like a Rock concert but its hip-hop, really.
Format: I think one of my first interviews was S.A.S, who use to roll with Dipset and one of the things they were telling me was, it was a challenge to cross over into the American music scene with their strong UK dialects. What do you think is the most challenging issue when making the crossover into the U.S. and being from the UK, while being engaged in hip-hop culture?
Dizzee: The fact that Iâ€™m speaking English and Iâ€™m from England and when I come to America, they donâ€™t know what the fuck I am talking about. So thatâ€™s kind of hard sometimes. The difference between Euro Gang and me is that Iâ€™m not really trying to find life in America. I dare to be different and they have to like me off the bases of that and I just donâ€™t give a shit.
Format: What do you give a shit about? We want to know.
Dizzee: Music and people. I care about and spreading goodness and about that paaayper [laughs].
Format: Do us a favor and describe the Grime sub-culture in the UK.
Dizzee: I use to rap over bonus tracks and a lot of instrumentals with a lot of other emcees and that kind of created a buzz. And eventually, I started to make my own tracks and they were playing on the radio and that created a bigger buzz. I then started running around the country, doing a lot of raves and just performing everywhere. It came to a level where we had to start selling records. We would take the records to shops and eventually take them to the distributors. I had a big single which was, â€œI love you,â€ and that was what got me the record deal with XL and it kind of came up, from that. Thatâ€™s the Grime scene to me and thatâ€™s how I inspire and I tell people, to build off of that.
Format: After the Don Imus situation in the States and the negative media attention, brought fourth by various figures in the spotlight, hip-hop has been blamed for a lot of issues in society. Is the same thing happening in the UK and how does it affect the Grime/ Garage culture?
Dizzee: Itâ€™s the same story because itâ€™s kind of the same culture as hip-hop and it didnâ€™t come from the radio scene. Grime came from the streets and is very close to the streets and a lot of the music that is coming out is from what you call the projects. All the upbringings from those artists go into the music – to a certain extent. A lot of people hear it with the negative ear and some people understand that itâ€™s just entertainment. If nobody is talking about it, then itâ€™s no good.
Format: When youâ€™re not rapping, producing and coming up with creative ways to produce music, what is the man behind Dizzee, aka Dylan Mills doing?
Dizzee: Just checkinâ€™ for friends and family, going to the mall, going clubbinâ€™ playing pool and running around.
Format: As a musician, what is most important to you when making music?
Dizzee: Just to be kinda honest about it and to definitely have fun with it.
Format: Growing up in the East End of London, what were you listening to in the early to mid nineties, in regards to hip-hop?
Dizzee: Right now, Iâ€™m listening to a lot of Down South stuff. Originally, I was into a lot of West Coast music, like Snoop Dogg, Tupac and Midwest stuff like Bone Thugs N Harmony and stuff like that. I then got really into that whole Master P and Cash Money thing, and eventually I got really into Three 6 Mafia. When I started producing, I was really thinking about a lot of those beats. They were a major influence. Back then Busta Rhymes and Eminem were huge influences as well.
Format: As an emcee in your early 20s, youâ€™ve managed to win a Mercury Prize, create a record label (Dirtee Stank) and release three solo albums. Whatâ€™s next for the British emcee, Dizzee?
Dizzee: I still want to make the biggest album; I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve made my biggest album yet. Iâ€™m still working that out. Iâ€™m working on my fourth album right now. Iâ€™m putting out the Newham Generals right now, from East London on the Grime scene. Weâ€™re (Dirtee Stank) putting out that album and that is kinda whatâ€™s going on right now.
Format: Do you define your music as being â€œgangsta?â€ Explain the concept of being â€œgangstaâ€ from your perspective.
Dizzee: I think that my music has some streets elements in it because of my background yet; I donâ€™t think that fully defines what the person is. Through my experiences, I would consider myself, a fully rounded person but I would knock your head off- for the record. A gangsta would be whatever it needs to be to get money. If it means riding people, upsetting people or whatever, basically. I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s me either. Itâ€™s my back against the wall.
Format: Let the people know why Dizzee Rascal is the person to be on the lookout for.
Dizzee: Cause Iâ€™m really into pushing music for the people. I really make music to make people have fun and for them to enjoy themselves and to just feel better. My music is definitely doing that. Iâ€™m bringing a lot of energy and a lot of excitement. My music is exposing a lot of people to a feeling that theyâ€™ve never felt before.