There are a couple possibly distressing things about Dizzee Rascal's second album, released almost exactly a year after his breakthrough debut. In the wake of the Streets' ambitious A Grand Don't Come for Free, its title -- Showtime -- conjures frights about a concept record strangled by ruminations on newfound fame and all the accompanying trappings. Dizzee being such a product of his environment, as Boy in da Corner conveyed with stark original clarity, it'd be a shame to see the producer/MC stagger down the trodden-flat route of the average lyricist who has tasted a smidgen of glory, real or make-believe: how many people crave another slew of verses about gold-digging women and crew members who have morphed into greedy coattail riders? This paranoia is compounded by pre-release rumors of Dizzee American-izing his sound, sacrificing individuality for the sake of widespread appeal. Thankfully, it turns out that there really isn't much worth worrying about. If Showtime isn't the equal artistic success of Boy in da Corner, it's slightly superior, stunning for the facts that it arrives so swiftly after the debut and is far from a retread. At the risk of backpedaling ever so slightly, it is troubling that the female-male politics of Boy in da Corner's "I Luv U" are replaced with the slightly noxious lechery of "Girls," and a few too many rhymes about his past year in the spotlight are simple-minded and needlessly defensive. However, the negative aspects are few and fleeting, typically swallowed whole by the streams of surrounding positives. For instance, the pungent "Girls" is trailed by the poignant "Imagine," in which Dizzee reflects in heart-stopping form amid string swoops, synth flutters, and rhythm splutters. And during those short moments spent in lame-brain braggart mode, you can still get lost in the pure sound of his voice -- an attraction as serious as his production prowess. As a beatmaker, Dizzee now ranks near the top, entire planet considered, whether he's dishing out a crowd-hyping batter-bounce or crafting something more intricate, where synthetic approximations of exotic instrumentation -- Oriental melodies, African percussion -- are pitted against ballast-blasting beats. Needless to say, the novelty status once accorded to this maverick by shortsighted cynics has now been obliterated by a shower of genius juice.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
Track Listing - Disc 1