Dizzee Rascal @ The Forum, Melbourne, Tuesday February 20, 2018.

The boy in the corner hops Down Under to make Melbourne go bonkers.
Words | Henry Owens

There’s no denying Dizzee Rascal is a pioneer; he spent the early ’00s slowly curating the grassroots street culture of grime music, and paving the way for the genre’s rise to global domination. Artists like Skepta and Stormzy are all products of the boy in the corner, who’s therefore a gatekeeper in the ascendance of grime in the last two years.

However Dizzee isn’t a retired veteran, as you could’ve guessed from the anaconda-like line that slithered all the way from the top of Hozier Lane and down to The Forum on a Tuesday night in Melbourne. With the popularity of grime continuing to expand by the minute, Dizzee seems to accompany it, having released his sixth album Raskit in 2017. But after a fiery opening set from NT native Baker Boy and with a sold-out crowd eager for his entrance, Dizzee dashed out like an artist with something to prove.

Throughout his hour-long set, the musician scattered in Raskit cuts such as Space, as well as hardcore fan favourites like Jus’ A Rascal and pop cross-over hit Holiday. He tackled each era of his career for each type of fan, inspiring mosh pits, rave-esque synchronised jumping, and a whole lot of sing-along moments. The flashing LED lights, constant flame bursts and the shifting, colourful backdrop visuals set the energetic tone, as Dizzee went face-to-face with every bar in every song, and came out victorious.

Dizzee’s hype man Big Man Scope often screamed to the crowd, inspiring intense stampedes of dance, while DJ MK shined in demonstrative periods of scratch magic. We were all in a sweaty unison; it was a collaboration of the celebrit, and the crowd that solidified this show as not just the biggest party on a Tuesday night, but the biggest party of the week.

As Dizzee re-emerged to stage for a much-demanded encore (after surpassing the venue’s curfew), it became clear why he has remained so prolific for over a decade now. Even despite the commercial acclaim that grime has obtained, Dizzee’s style, charisma and hunger manages to bring it back to the early days. The Forum felt like a small underground club – but as Bonkers dropped as a farewell to Melbourne, and audience hands rose like doves under The Forum’s starry sky, it was obvious this is bigger than genres. Dizzee is more than a pioneer and a gatekeeper: he’s a goddamn party starter.