Dizzee Rascal – real name Dylan Mills – was brought up in the UK Garage Music environment, with an emphasis on the dance floor. Dizzee was an active and enthusiastic participant at raves from the age of 15, as well as mixing on pirate radio stations. Growing up in a deprived area in the East End of London on a council estate and raised by a single mother from Ghana, Dizzee didn’t have an ideal start in life, but his early background has had a profound influence on his style of music. His father died when he was only two years old, and he himself says it was a teacher who let him skip classes to devote more time to music who most influenced him from an early age.
Dizzee’s distinctive style of rapping overlays a mixture of garage and hip-hop beats and rhythms, and contains elements of garage, rap and raga, metal guitars, pop and dance. His first album, Boy in Da Corner, was critically acclaimed on its release in 2003, with the single I Luv You coming out shortly beforehand and telling the tale of accidental teenage pregnancy with insight, sensitivity as well as some wit.
There was a stabbing incident in that same year, when Dizzee was knifed and the finger seemed to point at top Garage act So Solid Crew and a professional rivalry. This didn’t hurt his career as it is clear from his music and lyrics that he does not seek to glorify gun culture but rather reflect the realities of street life in the lyrics. There is usually a social message in his tracks which reflect the realities of the life he was brought up in on London’s streets. Dizzee’s music has evolved somewhat from the grime beginnings into a more mainstream sound, which has attracted more fans, eager to get Dizzee Rascal tickets. It has also made him more appealing to festival lineups and events like Radio 1 Big Weekend.
Dizzee won the Mercury Prize in 2003 for Best Album, at age 19 – the first rapper, as well as the youngest artist, to do so. The following year he scooped the award for Innovation from NME. His second album, Showtime, was released in 2004, with the single from it, Dream, carrying a distinctive and unusual time signature. This album was followed by Maths + English, which won him awards and legions of news fans, all wanting to see Dizzee Rascal concerts and appearances.
Dizzee has been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize again in 2010, for the album Tongue N’ Cheek. He has appeared at numerous festivals, including Glastonbury, GlobalGathering and Wireless.