Album Reviews: Showtime (Bonus DVD) by Dizzee RascalContentment and cash-counting have led to the creative demise of many a hip-hop artist. British wunderkind Dizzee Rascal avoids the all-too-common sophomore slump by focusing his lyrical attention elsewhere and using an ambitious and eclectic array of beats to transcend his roots in “British grime.” Coming off the success of Boy In Da Corner, which sold upwards of 250,000 copies and landed him on MTV, Dizzee is clearly satisfied with his newfound stature, but wary of those who would try to bring him down. Showtime is the compelling sound of an artist still hungry - even desperate - to prove himself.
“Respect Me” serves as the album’s most forceful mission statement, a minimalist jaw-clencher that’s as sinister as any hip-hop track in recent memory. But it's lead single “Stand Up Tall" that finds Dizzee at his frantic best, spitting verses over skittish electronica. Elsewhere, he lays rapid-fire rhymes across backdrops ranging from video game blips and beeps to Middle Eastern and Oriental melodies. He’s got a dexterous tongue and a gift with words, and he’s best served when cracking wry observations instead of casting tired gauntlets at enemies. Dizzee’s primary drawback is that his delivery isn’t as versatile as his beats. He’s a skilled and charismatic storyteller and star attraction, but Showtime is the rare hip-hop album that would benefit from more guests. As it is, Marga Man adds some boisterous lustfulness to the party anthem “Girls” and Vanya drops a surprisingly mainstream-sounding chorus into “Get By.” - Adam McKibbin
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