Twitter has to be CNN of all news, so when I saw that Dizzee was performing his seminal debut album ‘Boy In Da Corner’ in New York presented by Red Bull Music Academy, I scrolled and searched but I didn’t see a date for the London show. In all honesty I was disappointed.
Then I saw HyperFrank’s petition for a London show and before you know it Dizzee was headed home. He told RBMA “I saw the petition to get me to perform it in London. I didn’t realise it was that deep. I understand what it means now to this country. But it was never meant as a “fuck you” to the UK. But actually it would be cool to do it in London, I didn’t realise they wanted it that much here”
When you talk about ‘Boy In Da Corner’ a few things come to mind, you think groundbreaking, genre defining, iconic legendary, Young Man Standing, Avirex jackets amongst a few other things. So I was very excited to see Dizzee perform ‘Boy In Da Corner’ in its entirety. I get to relive my teenage years, buss a couple skanks and enjoy the moment. The excitement level was high especially as I have never seen Dizzee perform before (sure I saw the DVDs like most who couldn’t reach Sidewinder or Eskimo Dance rave). ‘BIDC’ being the album that solidified the language, attitude, thoughts, fears, dreams of the kid in the council estate, the masterpiece Wiley calls ‘ The Grime Bible’ only meant that Dizzee was going to set the stage on fire. He was going to take us back in time to where we were when we first heard it. It was going to fuel us, and take our pains away, it was going to mark a monumental time for us in it’s 13 years of roaming in and out of our lives.
Then came show day and Copperbox Area was oozing with grit, memories in chatter, tracksuits, purple haze and nostalgia— DJ MK warming up, set the tone. Then the music stopped, the lights went out and you heard chatter coming from the speakers, you heard all these stories about the first time they heard ‘BIDC’. Then the stage lit up with that iconic fluorescent yellow, and there was Dizzee seated on what looked like a step and he started with ‘Sitting Here’— I thought the earth shook, I felt goosebumps, the wait was over. King Dizzee was about to deliver the sauce.
Accompanied by his hype man Scope I braced myself for what I anticipated would be a legendary night, as we were all gathered at the birthplace of this thing we call Grime. Before the beat dropped we could feel the tsunami of ‘Stop That’ edging in the tide, that hard bass bounced in the arena back and forth. The wave of hype was immense. It was the bottle top breaking through and licking everyone in the face, your veins pulsated as though your blood circulation was about to implode. It was only right a wheel up followed.
At this point I thought wow, I am actually here and Dizzee is there and we’re all here witnessing this and being a part of a historic moment. He followed it up with ‘I Luv U’ and there were no point in time where everyone was not spitting lyric for lyric – attitudes changed with the songs, feelings came flooding back, memories were relived. We all went back to ’03 and pretended we were at shobs seeing Dizzee do a live PA and it all changed for me after that.
Dizzee continued playing through the tracklist, ideally he could have switched it up a bit, thrown in a quick Sidewinder set, making it a classic moment especially with DJ Slimzee by his side. We all remember those instrumentals, watching him dive into them, no fear, straight bars and energy. But he didn’t.
When he forgot the words to ‘Jezebel’ — and only performed half the song, my heart sank. This song in itself is remarkable in its delivery, content and afterthought. If he was interacting with us we would have easily spat the whole song with him. At times he was out of breathe and seemed fatigued. I thought to myself “does he actually want to be here?” It appeared like he didn’t care much for us and he showed us. Almost like our scene didn’t matter anymore.
Dizzee’s influence and stamp on Grime will forever remain because he made the world see who we are through that album. The album that is etched in stone, the classic tales of the inner city kid will forever be our monumental entrance to the world of main stream. A Mercury Prize winner, this album made you feel important, it was almost like seeing an athlete who, in their heyday, was phenomenal and this was them stepping out of retirement for a split second to share a glimpse of brilliance and show their old grace. It was annoying but incredible at the same time. I feel that maybe he may have missed an opportunity to stamp his legacy. But really he did what he’s been doing since ‘BIDC’ launched which was monetising his popularity and diluting his product in the mean time.
Maybe I expected too much. With the mass reawakening of the Grime scene and Skepta moving it forward I thought that would have maybe given Dizzee the push to deliver something timeless, raw and incredible. I wanted him to talk to us, tell us how it felt being back in East, surrounded by the people’s lives this album guided, healed, educated and was made for, how it felt performing these songs, I wanted him to spit bars, spit crud like he used to during those iconic sets at Sidewinder, I wanted him to just forget whatever energy there is between him and Wiley for a few hours and perform ‘2 Far’ you know; for the culture. I wanted him dissect things like he did with Redbull but he didn’t. The whole Grime scene was in attendance why weren’t they incorporated into the show?
With songs like ‘Live O’, ‘Fix Up Look Sharp’, ‘Brand New Day’, ‘Hold Ya Mouf’ to heavy hitters like ‘Just A Rascal’ epitomised exactly what Grime is and what Dizzee did. This ‘unconventional’ album opened the door to the mainstream, content we were served.
It felt nostalgic, being there in that moment is unforgettable because I was part of something great. The soundtrack to a point in my life and I got to experience it live in the flesh. And although he left on an underwhelming note. I still would go and see him do it because you can’t put a price on moments like these.
I caught up with Hyperfrank after the show seeing as she turned the wheels in motion she said “I mean BIDC, it’s the voice of a generation, it set the foundations and we saw that tonight. I appreciate Dizzee for doing this.”
My sentiments exactly and as FKA Twigs said under her appropriately posted caption after the show last night “I am happy that the London culture is being recognised now but you really can’t understand it unless you’ve lived it.”