BOY IN DA CORNER
THE ONLY CLASSIC GRIME ALBUM
“Boy in da corner is the only classic grime album”. A statement taken from Wiley’s 2016 Not For The Radio interview after being asked his opinions on classic grime albums. You can't help but disagree with Wiley's answer after hearing his opinion for the first time. After all, Grime has produced some outstanding albums since its creation during the early 2000s’. From Kano's iconic debut Home Sweet Home to Ghetts 2000 & Life the list goes on. However, after revisiting these albums and talking to hardcore fans of Grime, I found myself slowly agreeing with Wiley’s opinion. Dizzee Rascal’s debut album might actually be the only classic grime album. After talking radio personalities, fans of grime and musicians one occurring theme continued to pop up. Although albums such as Home sweet home (Kano), 2000 and life (Ghetts), Treddin on thin ice (Wiley) and Konnichiwa (Skepta) are seen as good grime projects none of the following have received the same amount of praise and recognition as Boy in da corner. No one was as quick to label Home sweet home or 2000 and life as classic in comparison to Boy in da corner. They either agreed that Boy in da corner is the only classic grime album or unconfidently labelled other albums as classic but later changed their mind. How is it that a genre, spanning over 10 years has only produced one classic album created by an eighteen-year-old? Maybe it's the nostalgia of early 2000’s Grime. The era of boiler suits, pirate radio sets and Mario paint beats continues to fascinate the newer generation of grime fans. Similar to how newer fans of hip-hop instantly label albums such as ready to die (The Notorious B.I.G) and ili matic (Nas) as classics to due to the era they were released, Newer fans of grime could fall victim to the same predicament. Maybe if the album released a few years later it wouldn't have received the same amount of praise. Or Maybe it's the mainstream exposure Dizzee Rascal gained after releasing the album, After all, he did receive the 2003 Mercury Prize for best album from the UK and Ireland. Maybe if Kano won the Mercury for the best album of the year in 2005 ‘Home Sweet Home’ would be a classic or maybe it's just because the album is flawless from start to finish.
There's not a lot of albums you can confidently label as perfect projects. There's always one or two tracks which are universally seen as the worst songs. Songs which shouldn't have made the cut but somehow did. One example of the top of my head is Numbers featuring Pharrell taken from Skepta’s 2016 album ‘Konnichiwa'. Despite my love of everything Pharrell related and the initial excitement I experienced when I saw the tracklist the song failed to live up to mine and a lot of other people's expectations. Pharrell hook is okay but his verse was very disappointing. Almost all albums have the same issue.
However, in the case of Boy in da corner, there's not one bad track on the entire album. Not one track that feels out of place, unfinished or lacking purpose. From the introduction track ‘Sittin Here’ a gritty minimalistic masterpiece which depicts the life of a young antisocial teenager dealing with the stress of growing in the hood to the emotional closer track ‘Do it’ which illustrates the protagonist feeling unaccepted and misunderstood by society but learning the importance of powering through dark times, the album delivers so much substance. Tracks like Stop Dat, Just a rascal, fix up look sharp and wot u on show the energetic side of Dizzee. The loudmouth teenager who knows how to make bangers which stand the test of time. You could play Stop Dat at any rave in 2017 and the reaction from the crowd would be astonishing. Tracks like Round we go and Jezebel portray the ignorance of teenage love and the life of a young teenage mother regretting her past decisions. Dizzee is rapping about real life issues which a majority of inner-city teenagers encounter or witness on their journey through adulthood. The guy who's in love with the girl that out of his league, the loud mouth guy who's always causing trouble in school, the girl who thinks she's too nice, the bad boy, the nerd. Dizzee embodies all these characters.
For an artist to produce a classic album it must influence its successors. Boy in da Corner continues to influence the new generation of grime artists currently coming up in the scene. 20-year Lewisham Grime MC Novelist is undoubtedly inspired by the early 2000’s Dizzee Rascal. Novelist embodies the confident, rudeboy persona Dizzee had prior and during the release of Boy in da corner. From the full Nike tracksuits to the style of rapping and producing Novelist wears his influences on his sleeve. Just take a listen to break into your house (prod.by Novelist) and tell me it doesn't sound like a track which could’ve fit onto Boy in da corner. Novelist even paid homage to Dizzee during his performance at Skepta’s Alexandra Palace concert last December. The Grime MC was performing behind a yellow screen wearing a black tracksuit which resembles the cover of Boy in da corner. You could even hear Skepta say “I am your fitness instructor” a line taken from Dizzee Rascals Too Far off boy in the da corner track featuring Wiley. Maybe it's a coincidence but it seemed like Novelist was paying homage.Even the album artwork for the boy in da corner has become a staple within popular culture with artists such as FKA Twigs recreating the cover at Dizzee’s homecoming show last year.
The more I think about Wiley's reasoning to why Boy in da corner is the only classic grime album the more I start to agree with his opinion. Maybe you completely disagree with Wiley and believe there are countless classic grime albums but there's one thing for certain Boy in da corner is landmark album within the history of grime that can't be overlooked or downplayed. It's an album which has become a staple within popular culture and will continue to influence the next generation of Grime artist in one way or another.