Hip-hop artists don't typically reject critical acclaim, but neither do they expect that good reviews will translate into big sales – and Britisher Dizzee Rascal's probes into the American market demonstrate why. Rascal has won raves for his spare, raw hybrid of hip-hop and dance music – a form originally known in the U.K. by the moronic term "grime." And while his latest disc, Maths + English, a 2007 effort recently issued here by Definitive Jux, clearly reaches out to a broader audience than its predecessors, the compromises are far from fatal. Indeed, the screaming "Sirens" is as tough as anything he's cut, and even "Wanna Be," featuring guest Lily Allen, reverberates with redeeming wit; the hook goads gangstas with couplets such as "You haven't got a hit/So you might as well quit." No wonder Maths has collected more strong notices – and yet its American sales are modest at best. So much for the power of a good review.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.