17
Nov 04

THE SQUARE TABLE 21 / Dizzee Rascal – “Dream”

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Pop Factor: 711 Controversy Rating: 286

From a marketing point of view, the double-whammy repositioning of Dizzee in the mainest of mainstreams is startling, particularly as the rest of Showtime is only user-friendly compared to his older stuff. I don’t think “Dream” and BA20 are career-breakers, but I could see him stuck, mediawise, in that Ms.Dynamite role of “the good rapper”, wheeled out to prove the vibrancy of the ‘UK urban scene’ while never really doing much.

Except that I don’t think he’s making these records for any reason other than wanting to make them. The big name rappers drop the odd singalong, nursery rhyme track sometimes – why shouldn’t Dizzee? “Dream” is corny but splendid – that “thankyou” aside gets me right there – and the high-risk distancing effects (his outrageously flat singing, the embarrassed intro) work to stop it all sounding ridiculous, or worse, pompous. I hope he keeps on surprising us. 9 (Tom)

10 and a joker. Not because it’s my favorite track of all time or anything but only because I can’t imagine you’ll send me anything more enjoyable than this. I’ve been on Diz’s dick since the first listen and this only serves to continue my enjoyment. Plus that video! (Forksclovetofu)

Open up the middle pages of “Boy In The Corner” and you’ll see a nice photo of Dizzee’s desk. Lots of photos of his family, demo tapes, magazines and jewelry. “Dream” is the first time he has put that imagery into music. It’s a celebration of what has been. A reaffirmation that although everything changed completely for him in the space of a year, he hasn’t lost sight of who he really is.

It would be to the detriment of his output if such a change occurred. He sounds innocent instead of forced or contrived. There is no pretence (unlike say, Mike Skinner who has to “make-up” scenarios in order to try to keep it real), and because of it, this remains one of the most honest moments of either album. The song just leaves me with the same overwhelming positive feeling about well, everywhere I might (or might not) be heading in life.

I mean, tell me you don’t love that? 10 (MW_Jimmy)

This is the first one in a while that I already knew well. Dizzee is a funny rapper on many levels, sometimes witty but also with a voice that suggests humour anyway, and especially when he sings along briefly – who can resist a smile at the way he sings “true”? What with it mentioning Tottenham (where I live) and sampling the only pop star I’ve met more than once, I feel a real affinity with it. I’m not sure I like it as much away from the often crunchy production of his usual stuff, where it acts as a breezy contrast, with its perky simplicity and lightness, but it’s still an absolute delight – there haven’t been many records that make me smile as much this year. Despite RealPlayer assuring me its genre is ‘foreign rap’ and that Dizzee is an ‘art-rapper’, and whatever the fuck that means, it’s wrong. 9.5 (Martin Skidmore)

Love this song, but I can’t work out why it’s a single: it feels a little too aimless, doesn’t exactly grab you. Charms you, instead, with twee little kiddy-choir, lopsided oom-pah-pah keyboard, single chink of sleighbell, Dizzee chatting about, you know, being a kid and worrying about the future and getting into music and how you’ve got to look after yourself and stay true to yourself, you know? And there’s those little asides – “love the singing, love it,” he says after a chorus, and joins in each time with a flat bellow for the last line, how you gonna have a dream come trooooo? It’s like he’s just sitting there, music in the background, and the way he falls perfectly into rhythm with it no more and no less than happy accident, benign, unworried, content for now. 8 (cis)

Well, I’ve got to hand to him. “Dream” is able to work the same trick as “Fix Up, Look Sharp” (molding a goofy 80s song into a killer hip-hop track), and has the potential to be massive thanks to its perky chorus and universal message to follow your dreams. It makes me crave a Dizzee album full of New Wave remixes, where juxtaposing “Two of Hearts” and heavy grime rhythms makes total sense, where Kajagoogoo has street cred coming out of their ass, and pirate radio DJs toast to the sound of Journey. You’d love that, tell me you don’t love that! 8 (Michael F Gill)

Wow! It’s a Christmas single, Dizzie brings the sleigh bells! 7 (Jel)

Well why not, eh? Glad they added a beat to the single version, the amusing video giving it extra strength – actually quite needed because there won’t be many other singles released (even at this time of year) that will divide people so much. Even some consternation among the Dizziephiles I imagine. My verdict boils down to how funny I found it on first hearing, which it turns out, was a lot. Despite the triteness of the thing and the terrible singing Dizzee still manages to make me like it and that’s something Jay-Z couldn’t do with ‘Hard Knock Life’ nor Nas can do with that new one about how great he and his Dad are. Bless. 7 (Steve M)

Hello, boys and girls. This is your garage pal, Dizzee . This is a song about a rapper. No! This is a song about being happy! That’s right! It’s the Happy Happy Joy Joy song! Happy Happy Joy Joy Happy Happy Joy Joy. Dizzee doesn’t think you’re happy enough! That’s right! He’ll teach you to be positive! He’ll teach your mate to write toonz! Now, boys and girls, let’s try it again! Whatever. Dizzee, I love you but I can’t really put my arms in the air for this one. 6 (Stevie Nixed)

First impression is there’s no funk, just a nodding plink-plonk. It shakes no more ass than Muffin the Mule. His life story drags you in, though- his voice as relaxed and chilled as if he’s reminiscing in the rocking chair. Best of all, it breathes life into the previosly stone dead Happy Talk sample. By the end you never get sick of it, especially the sublime blessing “young lady mothers yeah I got your
back as well, young baby fathers hold it down for your gyal”. An unashamed anthem, a nursery rhyme really, but it’s still got that Dizzee real-life feel. 6 (Derek Walmsley)

Dizzee does Nas doing a PBS PSA, but does so without the historical white-out & the tiny pianist. Instead, there’s some aw-shucks swagger and chirpy puppeting and loads of oopmah-loompah calliope muzak swirling about like so much cotton candy. And even though it’s quaint and cute, there’s something missing – maybe it’s just me coming to grips with someone born from the grit & grime of the LDN getting less up IN people and more up WITH people. Still, it’s nice. Toot toot toot. 6 (David Raposa)

I still haven’t listened to all of Showtime, but this single leaves me with doubts. Where “I Luv U” was exciting, complex, and confrontational, “Dream” is (at best) merely clever and (at worst) embarrasingly trite. Disappointing, but the chorus is endearing camp. 3 (Atnevon)

If grime is old enough to spawn novelty records, I’m sure it can cope with the honest admission that this single is utter piffle. 0 (alext)

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