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Lethal Bizzle
Go Hard Jeremy Allen , November 9th, 2009 10:50

There have been big changes on the UK hip hop scene since Lethal Bizzle dropped his last album, Back to Bizznizz, in 2007. Grime has been tossed away carelessly by an inattentive and fickle music mainstream media in a similar fashion to how drum 'n' bass was shamefully discarded in the 90s, while Bizzle's contemporary Dizzee Rascal has made a break for the overground and become a bonafide pop star with proper pop bangers and three No.1s, taking everyone by surprise by doing so - not least his record company who wanted little to do with his bonkers, chart-friendly sound.

"Bizzle's such a nigger / carry grime on my back," says Maxwell Ansah on live favourite 'Jump', a co-opted version of House of Pain's smash of the same name. Bizzle is keeping it real and old skool. So old skool in fact that he's got last year's producer du jour Mark Ronson on 'Lost My Mind'. Other collaborations include funky house supremo Donaeo on the title track 'Go Hard' and parochial tattooed rock muthas Gallows. Despite the eclecticism of mixers, Bizzle plays a straighter bat here than on Back to Bizznizz, as if to emphasise his street credentials and his reluctance to sell out, though his lyrical dexterity is almost more in focus as a result.

Bizzle isn't about to let you forget that he's great either. 'Money Power Respect Fame' are the things he's acquired just by being really fucking cool, even being goosed by autograph hunters at the local Portuguese chicken emporium. "Fame is something I don't give a shit about... I'm in Nando's, people looking - what is that about?" he asks. Apparently you can take a photograph, you can have an autograph, you can have a quick laugh, but at the end of the day Bizzle doesn't like his chicken cold. The album is strewn throughout with drollery of this quality, though sometimes he bends credibility to breaking point, especially when he keeps going on about how rich he is with: "Money's a genius... even makes a girl go down."

Jay-Z, who recently paid props to Lethal B's with a version of 'Forward Riddim' at the Royal Albert Hall, is indisputably rich. P Diddy is rich. A cursory look at Forbes top 20 richest hip hop stars reveals The Game at No.20 is rolling in it with a cool $10 million. Talking about how rich you are has become predictable and crass, but when someone like Bizzle talks up his pecuniary stature he ends up sounding like the Walter Mitty of hip hop. Nevertheless, his talent overrides such lazy aberrations. His timing, when comic or not, is immaculate, his flow hard to fault. ‘Who The Fuck Are U?’, where he recounts his birth, suggests that he has the right to call himself the King on occasion. "Apparently I couldn't wait to be born, and terrorize this shit," he says. "Clean me up, get me a drink, what's this place? It fucking stinks / why am I red? What is this blood?" Where so many MCs just seem to be saying words, Bizzle animates every syllable, each song like a vivid and laugh-out-loud funny cartoon.

Go Hard starts with the house bangers and goes harder with riffage as the album progresses, and it's latterly where he's at his most interesting, though his everyman appeal means he can spread himself as thinly as he wants and still win. I'm dripping with anticipation just thinking how great LethalBizzle's //next// record is going to be.