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"Maths + English" is the third album form the UK Grime artist, Dizzee Rascal. He is a London MC who brought UK Hip Hop and Grime to the mainstream. This album was released on the 4th of June last year and peaked at number 7, one better than he previous album from 2004. The title refers to the two components of the album which he had a part in 'Maths', the production and 'English', the lyrics.
1. World Outside
To kick us off, we have a short track which tells all the young black males in the UK that they have to realize that the world is bigger than the area that they live in , because this is what s letting them down. If these people expand, then they can move on from the detrimental things which are holding them back in life.
I like that he was doing something in order to spread his experience to people who perhaps wouldn't realize this otherwise. As it is an inspiring track, it is quite uplifting when you listen to it, so I save it for certain occasions. The music is very mystical and as if the listener is going into an unknown world, as they will do if they follow his advice.
From the title alone you can probably tell that this is a controversial track, and as it was actually released as a single, it makes you worry a bit more that he may face public backlash. This problem was kind of covered-up by having it heavily edited and calling it "Old Skool" on radio-play.
The secondary title makes sense when you hear the sample used, Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock's "It takes Two", a old-school Hip Hop jam, which takes you back in time to when there were a lot of party tunes in this genre (we seem to have lost them somewhat). I don't really see how the sample fits in with the main theme, but it definitely works.
The track has Dizzee talk about how people "'Talk the talk' etc. making them worthy of such a phrase (given in the title). It's quite humourous as he says this and repeats it a lot to bring out a huge impact on people who would think themselves 'hard', but know they couldn't stand in a fight really.
This was the first single from the album and it was quite successful in this country, but I really just didn't like it, because it was so boring and uneventful. I really don't see the place of this in Dizzee's music, because he isn't the type to get into serious trouble, so why would he make out that he's always running from the police when he's truly a good boy (and everyone knows it).
The music in this track isn't very good in my opinion, its very slow, which contrasts with the theme and the siren sounds put me off it completely. Due to all this, I hate having to listen to it and I don't think that it should have been included on the LP, but because of it's popularity, it had to be on here.
4. Where's Da G's (feat. UGK)
This is one of the big tracks on the album and as Dizzee collaborates with the Underground Kingz (UGK), comprised of Bun B and Pimp C. The star quality certainly makes it a sure hit. Dizzee said that he took a lot of influence from the 'Dirty South' so what's better than to have artists from there on such a track.
He said that places like Atlanta, Houston and Memphs were great cities to find music he enjoys, because this is where all of the true 'gangstaz' remain, so he definitely looks up to the Pimp and Big Bun as idyllic figures for his music.
This song refers to th fact that many will listen to gangsta rap and assume that because they have done this, they are fully-entitled to call themself a G(angsta), even though they wouldn't commit any crimes to back this up. The force of UGK makes you want to surrender as they are convincing in telling the listener (if it applies to them) that they shouldn't act like pimps, murderers or hustlers if they don't actually do it.
Although I didn't like this too much I was very impressed by the effectiveness of the overall track. The beat to this track is extremely hypnotic and strange and it fits in very well with the theme of paranoia, which he is attempting to put across to the audience in order to understand his state of mind when feeling this way.
During this the MC talks about how sometimes he feels that he should reflect on his lif, and certain thins become apparent when he does this. He speaks about how he may feel that his girlfriend his just a gold-digger, or that his friends are just there to
6. Suk My Dick
This is a terrible track, a disappointment in comparison to the rest of the album and I really think it is out of place with all of the quality tracks found on this album. He should have left it out completely, there's nothing he can do in order to improve on it.
This is the third track to be released off this album and it is a big tune for dancing to, I'm sure that it was a big hit in the clubs when it gained it's peak in popularity. It really stands out amongst the rest of the tracks, so it should make you pay attention when it comes on.
Dizzee Rascal tells us about he likes to watch girls dancing, and in order to get them to do this, he puts out this track, with a funky beat, which allows them to do it to him.
Not all of the track is good though because after a short instrumental part to it, he comes out with a very distinctive "Gosh golly, my oh my", lyrics like these show that he has really matured yet as an MC and he needs to work on making his best lines clear, not his worst ones
8. Da Feelin'
Dizzee shows how adaptive his a style is by jumping on a Shy FX's drum and bass (DnB) beat and displaying how his rhymes can fit in with any genre of music (not jut Grime, Hip Hop and rap). It's good to see that he's embracing another British type of music to give it more power.
This is a Summertime track and gets you into 'Da Fellin' of Summer, in which you have no worries, you can just cotch and relax throughout the day; all you ever what to do. I really enjoyed this as DnB is a genre which I love in small amounts so just a touch of it boosted the energy of the album greatly.
This tune has a thumping bassline to it and it really helps you to get right into it, during this track he talks about how to show off your style and flaunting it and it's quite a good record and I enjoyed listening to it.
The beat to it sounds quite similar to Lumidee's "Never Leave" and this increases the tempo greatly, I felt that it was a strong song o the album and stands out quite a lot even though it doesn't have too much of a story to it.
10. Excuse Me Please
I like how this track allows the artist to expand on his style and show how he has taken influence from conscious Hip Hop artists and is displaying this by taking a look at the world and being shocked by this vision.
Throughout the track Dizzee highlights all of the things which are wrong in this world and have no reason to b e like this. The record is inspiring and thought-provoking, but he doesn't tell us anything new, so I wouldn't say that this was an entirely successful attempt at this mini-genre, but a decent try.
11. Hardback (Industry)
I like how in this track he is again passing on advice from his own personal experiences (as "World Outside") but in this one he is actually trying to help people get into the music industry and he gives aspiring artists a step-by-step guide to success.
The beats pound on you throughout the record and I feel that it is a relevant backing sound to the lyrics. Strangely it sounds like a marching rhythm, so it is as if there is a crowd of people following his words on the way to making it in the game.
12. Temptation (feat. Alex Turner)
There is a constant whirling sounds during this track which makes you get into a strange mind-set, as the theme of the record, which is about the tempting things in life which he would want to do, but can't due to how far he has progressed in his life.
The lead singer of the Arctic Monkeys sings the chorus, and fits in fairly well with the direction of the tune and what the meaning of it is. I like how Dizzee takes us to his childhood, in which he would rob and joy-ride, but he has moved-on, but he knows that all the friends he did it with will still be trapped in the system.
13. Wanna Be (feat. Lily Allen)
This reminds me of a single from his last album, "Showtime", with the song "Dreams", as the track takes an old song and turns it into a big Grime track. This time he takes "So You Wanna Be A Boxer" and changes the last word to "Gangsta", and basically rips the listener so they realize that they will never be able to be accepted as one.
Lily Allen sings the chorus, and it's nice to hear on the tune as she fits in very well with sound of the track as a whole. Dizzee breaks down what it is to be a "Gangsta", just as "Where's The G's", ands just takes the mick out of everyone who attempts to act lie one who puts on a front like they are one, because there are so many like this in the country.
In conclusion this is a good album by Dizzee Rascal and it shows off how adaptive he is, he is able to work with singers (Lily Allen), Indie artists (Alex Turner), and Junglists (Shy FX) to bring out all of his best qualities and display how much his style varies. Generally Dizzee's raps are very unique as he comes with offbeat raps which hit close to home for many people who gre up just as he did. Although there are flaws in the LP, there is a lot to like, an I certainly enjoyed listening to it.
22 year old Dizzee Rascal, born Dylan Mills, is quite easily the most popular rap artist to come out of the UK in quite some time. Originally a member of 'Roll Deep', Dizzee found himself leaving the group after a conflict with fellow member Wiley and has now gone on to have greater success. From 'Boy In Da Corner', his debut 2003 album, Dizzee then followed up with 'Showtime' in 2004. It may have been a long time coming, but 'Maths And English' is his third album and I'm sure there's quite a bit of pressure for it to be a success. The title for the album stems from 'maths' referring to beats, and 'english' referring to rhymes. The cover features Dizzee standing up on a pink background, in front of the albums title text.
WORLD OUTSIDE - "There's a world outside of the hood."
Track One - 3mins 7secs
I think it's always important to start an album off with a powerful track, and Maths & English begins with a sound that sounds like a hoover gone wrong. About 30 seconds in, Dizzee's destinctive voice kicks in, and whilst the beat does not vary at all throughout the song by changing the tone of his voice the song gets slightly more interesting around the chorus. The track is about, you guessed it, the world outside of the 'hood'. Anyone who's not a fan will not be pursuaded to be a fan by this track, however this track is an introduction to what Dizzee is about, even getting 'standard' in as a lyric near the end. ONE STAR.
PUSSYOLE (OLDSKOOL) - "You know that he's a pussyole."
Track Two - 3mins 27secs
This track begins a lot more upbeat than the previous, and is pretty much just an insulting song. I've got a bit of a challenge on my hands here, because the album is so new they haven't got the lyrics up on the internet yet. The chorus is an in your face statement of 'pussyole' and whilst many will probably be offended by this track, from a fanbase point of view for Dizzee this is probably much more interesting than the previous track. TWO STARS.
SIRENS - "Better run when you hear those sirens coming."
Track Three - 3mins 27secs
For a selling point of the album, Sirens was released as the first single that is quite different from previous Dizzee singles. It's not really about the fast hooks, rather than the point of the song, which is getting away from the sirens - the police. You would never expect to hear a lot of guitars and drums in a track like this, so perhaps this was done to sell the album to a wider audiance, but how loud and instrumental it gets near the end is a turn off to the typical fanbase. The video features an old school policeman breaking into Dizzee's house on a horse, whilst he is just sitting around with no shirt on (anything to show he's built, eh?) THREE STARS.
WHERE'S DA G'S - "Where's the dough? Where's the cash? Where's hoes?"
Track Four - 4mins 54secs
The track begins quite slow, but I would say it probably has the best rhymes of the album so far. The song is all another big insult, saying some people aren't as 'g' as they believe they are - that's basically cool for an easy explination. Bun B and Pimp C feature on this track, and there voices fit on really well on this longest track of the album. I think those two featuring are actually American though, and some people have something against British and American grime music crossing over, so you'll probably either love or hate this track. I'm guessing it was probably the American infulence that made this the longest track on their album, as 5 minute tracks seem to be the thing to do at the moment over the pond. THREE STARS.
PARANOID - "Laying in my bed I'm a nervous wreck."
Track Five - 2mins 36secs
For those who can't keep concentrated, the longest track is followed by the second shortest. The song is Dizzee rapping about being scared of many things.. paranoid about many things, whether it be people after him or what his girlfriend is up to. Quite an uncharacteristical song for Dizzee. I'm liking the slow beat and lyrics. Oh and if you haven't noticed the swearing on the album up to this point, you will notice the F-word on this track. A very repetitive chorus. THREE STARS.
SUK MY D*CK - "My hat is low, my trousers too."
Track Six - 2mins 58secs
Will Dizzee throw a curveball and this song not actually be about what you'd think it is? Well no it's not about sex, it's about the insult 'suck my d*ck'. The song is a statement to what people think about him, and saying how he doesn't care. You feel at this point the album is really getting on a roll of swearing and street lingo so if you haven't liked the album up to this point so it's unlikely you will further to this point. The beat and lyrics work for me though, or should I say the maths and english. THREE STARS.
FLEX - "I love it when you move like that."
Track Seven - 3mins 31secs
The album is really in a happy mood at this point and the song is all about watching your girl flexing, and how inviting and exciting it is. Another feel good song, and seems quite uninteresting however about half way through it tries to regain your interest again and does it quite well. A semi-romantic song. THREE STARS.
DA FEELIN' - "Life is what you make it."
Track Eight - 3mins 56secs
Very unusual beginning to this song, and it reaks of the American infulence he's gotten from being overseas. This is designed to be a summer tune, as Dizzee tells you at the very start of the track. Probably the fastest Dizzee has wrapped so far on the album, and I'm sure that's what many of his fans that were impressed by his first two albums were waiting for. There is a female voice in the background, although it goes uncredited so I imagine it's no one famous (although it was originally rumoured Joss Stone would feature on this track, although Dizzee rubished that report). I'm not 100% sure what the feeling is supposed to be, I think it's the feeling of women in the summer. Never really lives up to its fullest potential. THREE STARS.
BUBBLES - "Life's a jungle everyone wants to be the king."
Track Nine - 3mins 29secs
This track is a lot more low key compared to the previous, especially if you're crying out for more of what you heard from the track before. The song is all about Dizzee being the 'real deal', and whilst this isn't going to win any awards for the best song on the album, you can't deny it is bareable. TWO STARS.
EXCUSE ME PLEASE - "What are we fighting for."
Track Ten - 3mins 39secs
Once again I would say the beginning of this track really does sound like it has an American infulence, the beat really seems like something you would hear on an American's rap track. The premise for the song is that Dizzee thinks the world has gone crazy, and trying to get listened to, and he even does the very American thing of mentioning the war in Iraq. Wow, who has this guy been hanging out with? As you enter the last minute, the lyrics get more powerful, although I'm not sure I could listen to this song again. TWO STARS.
HARD BACK INDUSTRY - "Keep your eyes on the ball."
Track Eleven - 3mins 39secs
This track is probably one of the mostheard off the album, as it was the one that leaked around first, although it was going by the name of 'The Industry' as opposed to its official name. The song is all about the music industry, and finding the right deal for you, and then the people that pop up after you find fame. Another slow track. TWO STARS.
TEMPTATION - "Seen it all so I need a change."
Track Twelve - 2mins 34secs
Featuring Alex Turner, who is apparently out of the Arctic Monkeys, I'm quite shocked to see this collab. The song does begin much more like a main stream song, which you would expect from a song involving someone who is very popular at the moment. I can't stand Alex's vocals personally, so thank god this is the shortest song on the album. The song is, as you would expect, about fighting temptation. ONE STAR.
WANNA BE - "Your mum buys your bling."
Track Thirteen - 3mins 23secs
This track sees two of Britain's biggest artists coming together, as Lily Allen features with Dizzee on this track that is not a cover of the Spice Girls wannabe. Lily Allen even opens the song vocally, and the beat of the song is just as bouncy as any of her previous releases. The theme of the song is talking about people who are wannabe gangsters, and unless you like Lily you are unlikely to actually like this song. It's all a bit too skipping down the street for me. ONE STAR.
U CAN'T TELL ME NUFFIN' - "You want beef, prove it."
Track Fourteen - 3mins 31secs
Completing the album is a track that begins with a very strange beat and the album is ending how it began - not very impressive. I believe the song is all about no one being able to tell Dizzee what to do, and that he knows everything already. It's quite agressive, but it's not really impressing me. ONE STAR.
Overall, am I surprised that no track could better a three star rating? Not at all, because whilst I like Dizzee I'm not a diehard and from my point of view, this guy isn't pushing the barrier as much as he was when he first hit the scene. Whilst 14 tracks is probably good value for money, I wouldn't find myself wanting to listen to every track ever again.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 World Outside
2 Pussy'ole (Old Skool)
4 Where's Da G's
6 Suk My Dick
8 Da Feelin'
10 Excuse Me Please
11 Hardback (Industry)
13 Wanna Be
14 You Can't Tell Me Nuffin'