Dizzee Rascal may only be in his early thirties (32 to be exact), but at this point, he’s been grime music’s leading export for the better part of two decades. He released his groundbreaking debut album, Boy in da Corner, in 2003 when he was just 18 years old, and has been finding new ways to sneak British rap into the lives of Americans who would otherwise have little contact with it ever since.
More often than not, Dizzee is able to stay relevant due to his adventurous ear for beats in the grime and electronic worlds and tight, rapid fire rhymes. In the past he’s found great success linking up with big-name DJs and producers like Armand Van Helden, Calvin Harris, A-Trak, and Basement Jaxx, while still making a point to work with some under-the-radar talent to stay fresh. After linking up with Harris for the third time on last year’s “Hype,” he’s shared a new collaboration with Valentino Khan, a producer signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA label.
“Wot U Gonna Do?” is a meditation on growing up and losing relevance in the music industry: “What you gonna do when they won’t play your records and you won’t get booked ‘cause your buzz is all gone/Sitting there tryna write the same old song, tryna figure out where it all went wrong.” At first glance, the song seems to be directed at Dizzee’s contemporaries from the early 2000s, whose names may no longer be as recognizable as his, but it also takes on a somewhat self-deprecating air, as if Dizzee himself is worried about aging out.
Khan, whose most noteworthy work to date is a co-production credit on Major Lazer’s “Bubble Butt,” supplies a beat full of bombast and drama that cycles between ominous bell-driven sections and brass-led, bass heavy moments. “Wot U Gonna Do?” is a nice companion piece to “Space,” another recently-released track from Dizzee’s upcoming album with almost identical video.
Raskit, Rascal’s sixth album, arrives on July 21. You can pre-order it here.