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Delirious With Weird

Saturday, July 26, 2003  
Time, speed, distance, culture, solipsism, removal and Dizzee Rascal.

Dizzee Rascal! Yay, he’s like The Streets, only actually black, and actually garage, and actually a teenager, and actually working class, and actually from London! It’s like a socio-politico-commenting music journalist’s wet dream come to life! He got kicked out of all his classes at school except music too, that’s why he’s so good, cos it’s all he did at school! Music! Five periods of music a day! (That’s a punishment?)

I don’t know; I don’t feel like I’m qualified to comment. I’m from a completely different world. Mind you, so is everybody else who’s commenting in binary and print on young Dizzee’s brilliance. Seems to me almost as if there’s a competition to lavish the most praise and the highest score on Boy In Da Corner (he even gets two Stylus reviews, saying almost exactly the same thing and giving almost exactly the same mark, one by Gavin and one by Scott, only Scott’s is on Pitchfork). Reynolds announced it as album of the year in fucking March or something. Marcello has waxed lyrical. Come December Dizzee and Led Zeppelin will be atop Meta Critic’s poll of polls and by a fair distance too I imagine, simply because no one has the- has the what? Bollocks? Gumption? Wherewithal? Courage? Insight? Honesty? Opinion? No one will say anything other than “Dizzee is a genius”. My suspicion-hackles are up, I feel like a rabbit in an open field, far from trees and cover and safety. I’ve had a copy here for the last week, listened to a few tracks, but never sat down and put the whole thing on, never attempted to relate to it. What’s the point? Everybody else has already decided. The Mercury panel, for fuck’s sake, have put it on the shortlist, 24 hours after it was released. So garage leaves me cold. So I don’t listen to dancehall. So hip hop isn’t really my thing. So do I bother? Am I denying myself something?

Ned asked about cultural consumption and novelty and individual reasons and responses and opinions the other day in I Love Everything. Do you feel an urge to go and see a film or listen to a record just so that you can keep up your stock of cultural collateral, maintain currency in the now, keep your hand in those conversations about that elusive thing which is the zeitgeist as it stands right now. Thing is, ILX is such a multinational democracy (meritocracy?), that the now, the zeitgeist, varies depending on what country you’re in. The internet, hyperspeed communication not tethered by location or even income/class or anything at all really (at least in the Western World) other than an ability to get to a computer, means that the now is no longer localised; it’s jus made even more essential and even more ephemeral. As such Reynolds can proclaim Dizzee a genius and an incisive commentator/observer/participant (idiot savant?- “well done chap, you’ve really captured the essence of being an 18-year-old in a rundown and crime-ridden part of London, here’s a pat on the back”- it’s as ludicrous as me thinking I understand the fucking Wu Tang Clan; which is why I don’t, I just enjoy their music some of the time) from the safety of New York, before Dizzee himself has never ventured beyond the Bow Bells (but fuck it, if people actually buy his album then maybe he’ll get to, now), and no one is bothered by this because accuracy and understanding are now no longer as important as the pure speed of the comment/discussion/reporting. “Look, we’ve torn down this statue of Saddam! War is over! [soldiers continue to die for the next four months] Look! We’ve killed these two Iraqis and they look like Saddam’s sons! War is over! [soldiers continue to die for…]” “Look! George W Bush has more votes! He’s won the election! [counting isn’t finished- final counting concludes he did not win, so the count is altered…]” And the circle keeps accelerating. When do people actually find time to enjoy the now in between the frantic moments spent searching for it? At a 200-mile remove from London (and a million-year remove from England Today) the now is not on my doorstep, is not attainable at the explicit point of its nowness. Do I drive myself mad trying to capture it from afar? I have little enough time as it is.

By the time I get to see The Matrix Reloaded or Hulk or hear Dizzee or Cannibal Ox the discussion has already finished. Running to catch up is almost impossible, not to mention objectionable. There is undoubtedly a desire to be able to consume it all, to ruminate and cogitate and appreciate and understand and value-judge it all, to review and rank and list it all, to be the ubermensch perpetually on the cusp of nowness and what’s more controlling and directing it as I see fit. But this is impossible. The simple fact is that I love some of these things I find. It’s why I look for them. Elbow or Manitoba or Gillian Welch or Radiohead or Outkast or Four Tet or whoever, wherever, whatever. The last track on Phantom Power which sounds like the most wonderful cosmic fairground. The reason I try and keep up is not so that I can keep up, but rather because I want to lag that slight moment behind, at that slight remove, and enjoy the sensation of the filtered nowness, capture and keep and revisit the moments that I feel make my existence that touch more- bearable? No, not bearable. Because I could live without it. Fun. Enjoyable. Worthwhile. Staying one step ahead, or even just on step, is too much effort. I’m not running to win; I’m running to run. The goal is not to stay current, but to find more things I can enjoy. Do I need to comment on the Beyonce single or the Girls Aloud single? Not really. Five years into his career and I’ve still not said anything about Eminem.

In completely unrelated news…

Just exactly who the fuck do the Radio 1 schedulers think they’re planning for? Who’s the audience they’ve got in their head? Who in this country is getting “warmed up” to go out to a club at 5pm on a Saturday teatime? I’d wager 40% of the people drinking and puking and fighting and fucking and maybe dancing in UK clubs tonight will be still at work or else eating tea right now (5.25pm), not dancing round their bedrooms shooting coke and chugging bottles of Reef in preparation for the big night out. And once they do embark on their big night out they are not going to be listening to the radio, you fucking piss-ant. So why churn out dance anthems from 5pm onwards at the weekends? No one’s listening buddy. Eminem knows that (“nobody listens to techno”). So isn’t their maybe room to use this time for something a little more appropriate? No. And why not? Because the people who are exerting influence over the Radio 1 schedules are the mates of Judge Jules and Danny Rampling and Pete Tong and Paul Oakenfold etcetera, the same names who’ve been standing in their little disco-pulpits for the last 15 years, who’ll try and stay there for the next fifteen too. Paul Oakenfold you are this generation’s Rolling Stones, suspended animation, frozen, repeating, trudging without aim or goal or reason beyond the trudge, always trying to recapture that feeling, which was so powerful and so fleeting that you have forgotten what it’s like and how to find it. Let us come and see you in your amphitheatre once every two years when you deign it is once again time to tour. You are irrelevant, a renaissance show, a throwback. Hope you die soon. Oh- you already did.

So Dizzee’s actually playing now. These actually accented childlike yelps and the war-of-the-machines undercurrent. It’s the sound of next week, maybe. 2010, Gavin reckoned. Gun Come Save Me. ”Dizzee Rarscoow…” It’s quite good, actually. I’m quite enjoying it.

7/26/2003 05:41:00 pm


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Nick Southall is Contributing Editor at Stylus Magazine and occasionally writes for various other places on and offline. You can contact him by emailing auspiciousfishNO@SPAMgmail.com

All material © Nick Southall, 2003/2004/2005