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Dylan Kwabena Mills (born 1 October 1985 in Bow, Londonmarker), better known by his stage name Dizzee Rascal, is a Englishmarker rapper, songwriter and record producer of Ghanaianmarker and Nigerianmarker descent. His music is a blend of garage MCing, conventional rap, grime, ragga, and electronic music, with extremely eclectic samples and more exotic styles. Best known for his number-one hits "Dance Wiv Me", "Bonkers" and "Holiday", his debut album, Boy in da Corner, won him the 2003 Mercury Prize. Follow-up albums Showtime, Maths + English and Tongue N' Cheek have all been critically acclaimed and certified gold.

Early life

Mills was born in Bowmarker, East Londonmarker. His father died when he was young, and he was raised for most of his life in a single-parent family by his African-born mother, who worked two jobs.

He attended a series of schools in East London, excluded from four secondary schools in four years - it was a teacher who first called him "Rascal". Cagey about exactly what his youthful "madnesses" entailed, in early interviews he mentioned fighting with teachers, stealing cars and robbing pizza delivery men. In the fifth school, Langdon Park in Poplarmarker, he was excluded from most classes except music.

He began making music on the school's computer, encouraged by a music teacher, Mr Smith, and during the summer holidays attended a music workshop organised by Tower Hamlets Summer Universitymarker of which he is now a patron. His mother bought him his first turntables.

Music and style

Dizzee once told author Ben Thompson in an interview with the Sunday's Observer magazine that “everything I do is for the music – I want to master it like Bruce Lee mastered martial arts."

His music is an eclectic mixture of garage and hip-hop beats with an extremely broad palette of influences, ranging from metal guitars to found sound, drill and bass synth lines, eclectic samples and even Japanese court music. It can best be summarised as a high-octane tribal skank, or even an unreconstructed step-up council skank; Dizzee also makes extensive use of un-coupled octuplets and double and triple couplets in his machine-gun paced stacato lyrics. Like most grime artists, he uses "beats born of ringtones, video games and staticky pirate-radio sounds" Dizzee's tracks are traditional grime in that the beats are often asymmetrical and make it difficult to dance to his music. His vocal performance is also distinctive; he uses a fast style of rapping which blends elements from garage MCing, conventional rap, grime and ragga. He raps about the same issues a confused generation of youth tends to; broken family, faithless mentors and a lack of support. Dizzee's videos are similar to many grime and garage artists in the UK. They are frenetic and fast, often matching the speed of the rapping; this is especially visible in the videos to "Fix Up, Look Sharp" and "I Luv U". Although his fast style of rapping and his subject matter are nothing more than ordinary in the UK, Dizzee Rascal's diversity nonetheless separates him from other UK rappers. In his song "Brand New Day", Dizzee Rascal used "flat, punching out riddims into cheap PC software, beats born of ringtones, video games, and staticky pirate-radio sounds". He is able to change his sound of music completely, by using a different processor. In "Jus' a Rascal", he uses "T.O.K.'s hysterical dancehall harmonies, a synthesised guitar line halfway between death metal and English Beat, stuttering Southern hi-hats and a kick drum retarded to a crawl".

Dizzee is grime's most popular artist globally, and is arguably the best-known grime artist to most people. He worked closely with his mentor Wiley, who created one of the first grime tracks, called "Eskimo". Grime is today still considered underground, despite Dizzee's large mainstream exposure Dizzee's DJ, DJ Semtex, says, "the biggest conflict I have is with major labels because they still don’t get it."


Experimenting with his decks and styles, he became an amateur DJ, making occasional appearances on a local pirate radio station. Aged 16, he self-produced his first single, "I Luv U", about teenage pregnancy. In 2002, he jointly formed the Roll Deep Crew, a 13-piece garage collective, with former school friends. Signed by the XL record label, he signed an additional solo deal.

After winning a Sidewinder Award for Best Newcomer MC in 2002, in June 2003 the re-recorded and re-produced by Jacob Freitt single I Luv U was released, becoming a Top 30 hit single.

Boy in da Corner

Dizzee's first solo album, Boy in da Corner, was released to universal critical acclaim in August 2003, entering the UKmarker Top 40 at #40. The album would peak at #23. In the same week the album was released, while performing with Roll Deep Crew, the rapper was stabbed six times in Ayia Napamarker. Many tabloids suggested that this event was connected to an apparent feud between Dizzee and garage act So Solid Crew, and his pinching Lisa Maffia's bottom. After Dizzee was hospitalised, So Solid Crew member "Megaman" - real name Dwayne Vincent - was later questioned about the incident, but was immediately released by Cypriot police.

Following the success of single I Luv U and the album, the second single from Boy in da Corner was "Fix Up, Look Sharp". The single, released in August 2003, gave Dizzee his first UKmarker Top 20 single and also became the biggest hit from his debut album. In September, Dizzee was awarded the prestigious Mercury Prize for the best album of 2003. He was the youngest person (at 19) to do so and the second rapper (after Ms. Dynamite the previous year). The album was also chosen as the #1 album of the year by Planet Sound.

Along with being picked as the #1 album of the year by Planet Sound, Boy in da Corner was also chosen as one of the top 50 albums of the year by Rolling Stone, joining the likes of Kanye West, Mos Def, Eminem, and Jadakiss for 2004. His unique style, as "words pour out at a high pitch and pace, as if syllables are the only thing that can hold back a scream," have given him a sound that hip hop heads can embrace as something new and original in the hip hop scene. Later in the year he collaborated with the Basement Jaxx on their third album, Kish Kash on the track "Lucky Star". The track was released as a single in November 2003 and gave Dizzee his third top 30 hit. The third and final single, taken from his debut album, was "Jus' a Rascal", which became his fourth top 30 success. The song was also featured in the film "Kidulthood", released in 2006.

"Jezebel" was never released from the album, but was well received nonetheless, gaining exposure and popularity on the underground scene. The song told the tale of a young London girl, who through years of going to parties, getting drunk, doing drugs and having sex earned herself the title Jezebel. He made his USmarker concert debut on 7 February 2004 at Volume in the Williamsburgmarker section of Brooklynmarker, New Yorkmarker.


In 2004, Dizzee Rascal won the NME Award for Innovation. His second album, Showtime, was released in September of the same year, eclipsing the peak of his debut album by entering the UK Albums Chart at #8. The first single from the album, released two weeks earlier in August 2004, was titled Stand Up Tall; it was written and produced by DJ Youngstar and entered the UKmarker Top 10.

The second single "Dream", another top 20 hit, was released in November 2004. It sampled (and used the chorus of) Captain Sensible's song "Happy Talk", originally from the makers of Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific. The "Dream" music video consisted of a mock 1950s style children's marionette show depicting scenes corresponding to the lyrics about Dizzee's youth; street culture, crime, single teenage mothers, pirate radio and garage clubs.

Later in 2004, Dizzee Rascal was part of Band Aid 20, a group of British musicians who re-recorded "Do They Know It's Christmas?" He did not sing in the song; rather, he rapped two lines of it ("Spare a thought this yuletide for the deprived, if the table was turned would you survive?" and "You ain't gotta feel guilt just selfless, give a little help to the helpless"). Dizzee Rascal was the first person to add to the song since the original was released; this would mark the first time that Dizzee reached the number one spot in the UK Singles Chart, albeit as part of the ensemble.

In 2004, Dizzee Rascal made an international endorsement deal with urban brand Eckō and designed his own shoe with Nikemarker in 2005.

In March 2005, the Double A-side single "Off 2 Work" / "Graftin'" was released. "Graftin'" was the third and final single from the Showtime album, whilst "Off 2 Work" was a new track that did not appear on either of his albums. The accompanying music video featured Rascal in various ordinary workplace situations (as a policeman, a fast food vendor, a businessman, etc.) and as Prime Minister, announcing his engagement to Cherie Blair. It would prove to be Dizzee's lowest charting single to date, peaking outside the Top 40 at #44.

Maths + English

Dizzee's third album, Maths + English, was released on 4 June 2007. He stated in an interview before the album's release that "Maths" refers to producing, in terms of beats, deals and money and "English" to writing lyrics. The first single off this album, Sirens, was released on 21 May. While American influences were vital to the creative evolution of “Maths & English,” the album never compromised its distinctively British identity.

The album was one of the 12 nominees for the 2007 Mercury Prize, which ultimately went to The Klaxons' album Myths of the Near Future. During the year, Dizzee worked with cross-genre artist Beck on a remix of the song "Hell Yes", and provided guest vocals on an Arctic Monkeys track, the B-Side to their single "Brianstorm" named "Temptation Greets You Like Your Naughty Friend". Dizzee's version of the same song was featured as "Temptation" on his third album.

The official US album was released on 29 April 2008; it contained two tracks not on the European release, but it did not include the track "Pussyole'". It was Dizzee's first album to be released under the Definitive Jux label.

In 2008, Dizzee Rascal recorded a song for suicide charity CALM; the song "Dean" was about a friend of Dizzee's who took his own life. In December of that year, he was arrested following an alleged incident involving a baseball bat in Southeast London. He was released on bail to return to a police station later in December.

Tongue N' Cheek

Dizzee Rascal released his fourth studio album, Tongue N' Cheek, on 21 September 2009. It included his three number-one hits "Dance Wiv Me", "Holiday" and "Bonkers". Its release was announced on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, where Dizzee Rascal revealed some details about the album, including track information and production. Dizzee recently confirmed in an interview on Radio One, that he would be leaving his grime roots behind, in favour of more mainstream pop. On 23 May 2008, Calvin Harris, whom he collaborated with on the number-one smash "Dance Wiv Me", revealed on his Twitter that he was producing a Dizzee track; at the Evolution Festival, Newcastlemarker, and when on tour supporting The Prodigy, he confirmed that two new singles called "Road Rage" and "Dirtee Cash", both of which featured on the album, would be released. "Dirtee Cash" has, to date, peaked at #10.


A measure of the success of Dizzee, and of grime as a whole, is the political attention it has received in the UK. Two prominent politicians, then-Home Secretary David Blunkett and then-Culture Minister Kim Howells, targeted "black music", allegedly "blaming rap for 'glorifying gun culture and violence.'" Dizzee himself has been quoted by UK newspaper for one particular lyric - "I'm a problem for Anthony Blair".

During the 2008 US presidential elections, Dizzee gave a live interview to Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman, in which he described Barack Obama as "an immediate symbol of unity". Addressed by Paxman as "Mr Rascal" at one point, he suggested that hip-hop played an important part in encouraging young voters and humorously opined that he could well one day become Prime Minister.

Dirtee Stank

Dizzee Rascal has created his own record label, called Dirtee Stank. Dizzee Rascal's explanation of the name is, "The name came from one of the first lyrics I had: 'going on dirty/going on stank…' So I thought 'yeah fuck it, Dirtee Stank.'" Dizzee has stated "I had Dirtee Stank before I had my record deal." The first white label release of "I Luv U" was made on Dirtee Stank, released when he was 16, although both of his albums and their subsequent singles have been released under XL Recordings. It was not until 2005 that Dizzee Rascal 'revived' the label and made his first signings, Klass A, and Newham Generals. The label's MySpace page states that the ethos of the company is "about bridging the gap between indie, majors and the street. Stank is the way forwards". The label's logo is a picture of flies circling faeces - when asked why this logo was chosen, Dizzee stated that it was the "streetest thing I could think of".

The label was formed and is owned by Dizzee Rascal, and is co-run by Dizzee's manager, Cage. According to Cage, Dirtee Stank exists to promote gifted artists with "social problems" that might scare off other labels. "People who, through the conditions they live in, might not be stable." The label should also help artists overcome hurdles such as access to studios that "take something from a raw demo to something people will get excited about on the street".

The single "Dance Wiv Me", featuring UK electro artist Calvin Harris and RnB artist Chrome, was released through the label on 7 July 2008; the track became Jo Whiley's Pet Sound for the Week beginning 2 June 2008, thus gaining a large amount of radio airtime. The single charted at Number 1 on download sales alone, a week before its physical release. Dizzee's next two singles, "Bonkers" and "Holiday", were also released under the record label, and these two again charted at Number 1.


Awards & Nominations

In video games

In PlayStation Home, the PlayStation 3's online community-based service, there was an event dedicated for Dizzee Rascal in the VIP Room of the SingStar themed game space that ran from 24 September 2009 to 9 October 2009. Dizzee performed for the PS Home/SingStar community and answered questions for an hour after the performance. There were also limited time items at this space like a Dizzee Mask. This was available to the European and North American versions of PlayStation Home, however, Dizzee only appeared in the European version answering questions. There is also a SongPack on the SingStore for SingStar that include six of Dizzee's tracks.


  1. Thompson, Ben. Observer's Music Monthly. April 17, 2007.
  2. Chang, Jeff. "Future Shock". Village Voice, 19 January 2004.
  3. village voice > music > Future Shock by Jeff Chang
  4. True Grime: The New Yorker
  5. BBC - collective - will grime pay?
  6. The Top 50 Albums of 2004 : Rolling Stone
  7. - Dizzee Rascal - London, UK - Garage / Hip Hop / Rap -
  8. Dizzee Rascal Interview - Nottingham Articles -
  9. Muse Arts
  10. - Dizzee Rascal's Maths + English Gets US Release Date (January 21, 2008)
  11. BBC News Online - Dizzee Rascal held in 'bat' probe
  12. Accessed September 7, 2007

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