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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 September, 2003, 00:33 GMT 01:33 UK
Dizzee Rascal: Underground star
Dizzee Rascal
Dizzee Rascal: "I write about hardships, about girls, money"
Dizzee Rascal, a 19-year-old east London garage MC, has won the 2003 Mercury Music Prize.

"My teachers all called me rascal," Dylan Mills has said, explaining the name Dizzee Rascal - which is now known across the country after his Mercury win.

"That's who I always was. It's my character. I'm a rascal."

Rascal, who grew up in Bow, east London, was raised by a single mother on a council estate.

He was so much of a rascal that he was excluded from every class except music and expelled four times.

But he began rapping in the UK garage style - the style dominant on many inner city streets - and one teacher encouraged him to develop his musical talents.

According to Rascal himself, the music stopped him drifting into crime like many others on his estate.

Dizzee Rascal

Rascal is not ashamed to admit that money motivates him and is the latest in a line of British stars to have emerged from the urban scene.

Like thousands of teenagers across the UK, he began making music in his bedroom with friends, using whatever technology he could lay his hands on.

"I come from the Playstation generation," he said, "making music and beats on anything we can."

He also served his performing apprenticeship by rapping live on pirate radio stations.

His first single, I Luv U - about getting a girl pregnant - was made when he was 16.

Its lyrics include lines like: "Some whore banging on your door, what for - pregnant?

"What're you talking about this for, 15 - she's underage, that's raw."

'Street life'

The east Londoner has said: "I will rap anything. I write about hardships, about girls, money, anything."

He said his album explains "everything I have gone through".

He added: "I write about where I come from, London, about street life."

I'm deep in, I'm not stopping for no-one. I'm gone - I'm flying off
Dizzee Rascal
As a white label release, I Luv U generated excitement in clubs and radio stations and led to a record deal with one of the UK's leading independent labels, XL.

I Luv U was then given a full release, reaching number 29 in the UK chart, followed by Fix Up, Look Sharp, which went to number 17 in August.

BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Low praised the rapper for his album at the Mercury ceremony.

"The beats are razor sharp - they are innovative but don't alienate," he said.


He added: "His lyrics are witty and funny but also really informative, honest and astute.

"It is an honest representation of who he is as a person."

Rascal has not escaped the violence of the UK garage scene - he has just recovered from being stabbed in the Cypriot garage resort of Ayia Napa.

The incident was said to have arisen out of a squabble within the music scene on the island.

But the incident has not hurt his music career, and he is now working on a new album.

"I'm deep in, I'm not stopping for no-one. I'm gone - I'm flying off," he said.

Dizzee Rascal
Listen to a clip of Fix Up, Look Sharp


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