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Artists to Watch: Dizzee Rascal

Summer 2003 was man time for Dizzee Rascal. On July 7, hours before

Summer 2003 was man time for Dizzee Rascal. On July 7, hours beforea show in the Mediterranean resort of Ayia Napa, the MC/producer/DJfrom East London’s blighted projects was stabbed six times(arrest warrants were issued for two associates of beef-sizzlinggarage-rap posse So Solid Crew). On July 21, his debut album,Boy in Da Corner, was released in the U.K.; on September 9,the album won the prestigious Mercury Music Prize, beating out rockgiants Coldplay and Radiohead. A few days later, the kid known tohis mom as Dylan Mills turned 19.

DizzeeRascal is a sloe-eyed, whip-tongued, slang-crunching revolution inBritish street sounds, occupying a space between the London underworldof Charles Dickens, the thug-poet realism of Tupac Shakur, and thebleeding-edge beats of U.K. stars the Streets and Ms. Dynamite. Theraps on Boy in Da Corner — when discernible through acacophony of squawks, blurts, car alarms, sirens, and Rascal’scockney-gangsta flow — spin tales of sex, violence, and strife at thebottom of the English class ladder. “As I was growing up, I had a lotof problems,” Rascal says, alluding to a criminal record and an abortededucation. “But the flip side is that channeling it made the musicwork. It’s a reflection of my surroundings. it’s me sitting on thestreet corner, watching life go by.”

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