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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 September, 2003, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Rap star Dizzee thanks teacher
By Angela Harrison
BBC News Online education staff

Dizzee Rascal
Dizzee's talent was obvious, says Mr Smith
Award-winning rap star Dizzee Rascal has thanked the teacher who encouraged him after he had been expelled from four schools.

After winning the Mercury Music Prize, the 19 year old rang his former music teacher Tim Smith who he said had rescued and inspired him.

Dizzee - whose real name is Dylan Mills - met Mr Smith at Langdon Park School in Poplar, east London.

He spent all his time in the music room after being excluded from most lessons.

Mr Smith is thrilled by Dizzee's success.

"It's phenomenal, but he had such a talent it was obvious that he would do something with it," he told BBC News Online.

I was gob smacked by the quality of his work
Tim Smith, music teacher
Now teaching at Kidbrooke School in south-east London, Tim Smith says Dizzee could do things in 20 minutes which other children took two months to do.

"I remember noticing how talented he was when he arrived.

"I was gob smacked by the quality of his work.

"Each time he came he seemed to have new ideas and he wanted more and more knowledge from me.

"Eventually he did get excluded from virtually all his classes and spent most of his time working with me in the music room - in a little store cupboard."

The rap artist draws on his life on housing estates in east London for his music and writes about drugs, violence and teenage pregnancy.

He is donating half of his 20,000 prize money to youth clubs in the area to buy music production equipment.

Mr Smith, who has been teaching for 27 years, said Dizzee's success was a highlight of his career.

"It is wonderful. Dizzee thanked me when he rang and said 'if it hadn't been for you...' and that does mean a lot."

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