Dizzee Rascal | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Since releasing his Boy in da Corner (XL) in 2003 and emerging as the popular face of England's recalcitrant grime scene, Dizzee Rascal has played only a handful of U.S. gigs, including a charmingly explosive performance at South by Southwest last year. But now that grime has evolved from a hard-to-parse novelty to a craze, Dizzee's first significant American tour isn't the hype magnet it might have been mere months ago. Grime borrows heavily from the synthetic syncopation of Jamaican dancehall, the driving, sinister low-end riffs of drum 'n' bass, and the chintzy electronics of cell phone ring tones, and thus far it's shown staying power as the first uniquely English analogue to American hip-hop. Run the Road (Vice/Atlantic), a recently released grime compilation, vividly demonstrates the genre's depth; it also makes Dizzee's own music seem less special. But no other grime artist has yet matched his prolificacy and charisma. If his second album, Showtime (XL), lacks the shock of the new, its austere spookiness is still powerful. His high-pitched rapid-fire flow is breathless and jagged, like a fast-forwarded videotape of a boxer bobbing and weaving; rapping against the herky-jerk grain of the beats, he almost sounds like he's struggling to spit out anything, but once your ears adjust to his thick accent it's clear he's a gifted lyricist. In Austin he proved himself a fine live performer, launching some fantastic a cappella freestyles and riding the lopsided grooves of his self-produced tracks like a seasoned Alpine skier. YROC opens, DJ Wonder plays second. Sat 4/30, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $15.

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