Dizzee Rascal fans, old and young alike, descended on The O2 en masse on Wednesday 8th, March to be a part of the 20th anniversary of his debut album, Boy in da Corner

In fact, the mix of fans gathered for what was to be a breathtaking night was surprising, with a large number of them no older than the album itself. It just goes to show Dizzee’s influence on the scene and the vital part he has to play in Grime history.

Before the Boy in da Corner festivities could begin, however, we were treated to several special guests. Although it should be noted that they all played concise sets, and during Backroad Gee‘s performance, he made it clear that he’d been asked to come on early and perform a shorter set. That didn’t deter the crowd from having a good time, though; they reveled in what few tracks he delivered.

A similar sentiment saw Lady Leshurr whizz through a shorter set than the crowd would have hoped for. The grey sheet that fenced off most of the stage hinted that the audience was in for a treat production-wise when it was Dizzee’s turn, leaving fans wondering what was behind the curtain.

The final special guest JME provoked a massive reaction from onlookers, and why wouldn’t he, as Grime royalty? At any show he’s at, the crowd goes wild for just a glimpse of him. Making the eight tracks he performed more than enough to whip up a frenzy down the front and throughout the venue. He opened with ‘Integrity,’ followed by ‘Calm,’ and the audience was anything but. 

When that mucky grey curtain finally fell, we could see the album cover of the 2003 Mercury Prize-winning Boy in da Corner recreated on the stage. Dizzee sat on the ground in a cube with a bright yellow lit-up background. The excitement was unreal, but instead of immediately hitting fans with an upbeat track, he aptly came in with ‘Sittin’ Here’ as he did precisely that.

Soon afterward, he stood up to perform ‘Stop Dat,’ and fans could see him in all his glory. Next up, an excellent introduction to one of his most beloved songs unfolded right before showgoers’ eyes as a musical sensation for their ears. Four singers proceeded to break into an angelic melodic song before the familiar beat of ‘I Luv U’ kicked in, and if they didn’t already know, it became apparent to the people watching that they were in for one hell of a night! 

Two towering screens on either side of the center focal point box in which Dizzee first arrived showed graphics including the good old fashioned 3310 phones amongst other era setting icons. During ‘Street Fighter Freestyle, ‘ a homage to the pirate radio era, those of us old enough to remember it took glee to see the familiar Street Fighter game-style graphics adorn those screens.

Highlights of the evening were up next, which included ‘Give You More’ when the much loved D Double E joined Dizzee on stage, and the new track ‘What Do You Know’ that included JME and all his charisma. This led straight into the infamous ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp,’ which had everyone from the front to the back to the seats jumping!

The energy was relentless throughout the 24-song set, and the only moment of somber was when during ‘Do It!’ the cube in center stage rose to the sky and played visuals of the Rappers and DJs lost over the years from Skibadee to Stormin and beyond, including Jamal Edwards, the founder of SBTV. 

The set was topped off nicely with tracks beyond his grime roots and into his foray with Calvin Harris playing hits like ‘Dance Wiv Me’ and ‘Holiday’ finishing on the massive hit ‘Bonkers.’ If the night was intended to remind the world of his legacy, it sure did that, rekindling our memories of his role in so much of Grime’s journey from basements to airwaves. A fantastic night that’s sure not to be rivaled for another 20 years!

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