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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 September, 2003, 23:58 GMT 00:58 UK
Rascal keeps cool in Mercury frenzy
by Ian Youngs
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Underground urban artist Dizzee Rascal spoke to the press after being named winner of this year's prestigious Mercury Music Prize.

Dizzee Rascal
Dizzee Rascal wore a T-shirt with his own face on it
"Who is Dizzee Rascal?" a journalist asked one of the UK's hottest but least-known stars minutes after he picked up the prize for album of the year.

It is a question that will be on many lips after the name was added to the prestigious list of winners that also features the likes of Ms Dynamite, PJ Harvey and Badly Drawn Boy.

Predictably, the answer from the 19-year-old rapper and MC, standing on a podium facing a bank of cameras and reporters, was: "I am Dizzee Rascal."

To convince anyone who thought he was an impostor, he wore a T-shirt with his own face on it and his name on the sleeve.

Trying to appear cool in the face of the media melee, Rascal still seemed a little overwhelmed by the attention.

Firing off his answers as rapidly as he spits out his lyrics, he often spoke in disjointed phrases and looked like he would have been more comfortable rapping.

Acknowledged

The unenlightened journalist tried again, this time asking about stories of rivalry with So Solid Crew.

"There ain't no story - the story is that I was doing my music, I'm another artist in the scene, know what I'm saying?

"I'm doing what I'm doing, and I think that's being acknowledged now so that's what I care about."

They're not showing a lot of UK love
Dizzee Rascal on record companies' attitudes to underground urban music
Asked whether acknowledgement was important, he said: "Of course because I come from nothing, man - I come from the underground and that.

"Pirate radio scene, I come from the ground, man."

He had not expected to win but had been "just happy to be a nominee", he said.

But now he had the title, it was "a sign to me to excel and stay focused".

He thanked DJs like Zane Lowe, Jo Whiley, Zoe Ball who were "in the mainstream who have made a difference and made people understand".

'Deal with it'

He dodged some questions about his stabbing in Cyprus in July, saying he was not allowed to talk about it.

"It happens - shit happens and you do deal with it just like anything else. You deal with it, know what I'm saying?"

Rascal was handed his trophy by last year's winner, Ms Dynamite - another graduate of the London pirate radio scene.

And Rascal revealed that he had appeared alongside Ms Dynamite on one radio station, Rumble, when they were both starting out.

'New generation'

But record companies in the UK were still not giving underground music the attention it deserved, he said.

"They're not showing a lot of sounds, they're not showing a lot of UK love," he said.

"I'm not showing them what to do, you know what I'm saying - people just break through anyway, it's like that.

"A new generation, so it's up to you."


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