I don’t dislike Dizraeli, although starting a review with that may seem like a certain precursor for slating something. The only release of his that’s found a semi-regular rotation on my playlist, Engurland (City Shanties), had some good, hook laden tracks (Bomb Tesco & Homeward Bound (On The Overground) especially). Admittedly it lacked a little depth but it was enjoyable enough and had it’s fair share of entertaining lines. So I was feeling quite affable when I set about giving this long pondered, given it’s conception in 2009, album a listen. And I don’t dislike Dizraeli.
I do however find him a bit grating. A lot of his spiel relies on a certain sense of consciousness and self-awareness which does manifest itself in a relatively honest lyrical style and that intent I can appreciate if nothing else. But through the whole album I had the nagging feeling that, well intended as it all is, it’s just not very convincing. It may be the humourlessly knowing delivery, which left me with the impression of being stuck with a newly enlightened student full of self-indulgent revelations and indignity. Or it may be the general concept of the album, which revolves around Dizraeli’s experiences travelling through India and which, for the first time, actually makes me identify something as ‘Backpacker Hip Hop’. Usually a gap year as a concept for an album would raise eyebrows enough but throw in the blandly conscious (and wholly directionless) pontifications which fall short of actually saying anything beyond a vague sort of liberal mumbling and the whole thing falls down a little.
I’m not wholly adverse to the subject matter, with my near fanatical belief in Hip Hop as a conduit for pretty much any idea the notion of a travelogue as a concept does appeal but the execution here doesn’t really translate the experience as anything more than an exercise in navel gazing. Perhaps most disappointing in the treatment of the concept is the fairly cynical awareness of the backpacker’s all too frequently true stereotype and just how widely spread it is in some quarters without doing a vast amount to provide an interesting, separate and strong alternative view to that.
Lyrically it’s innocuous enough but also fairly light weight. There’s no great insight here and what there is doesn’t hold any particularly strong identity. There’s something middle of the road about the whole affair and the relative lack of the wit which Dizraeli has displayed on other releases leaves the whole thing feeling slightly purposeless.
Tom Caruana does a competent job with the production although again it’s a bit flat given his previous work. There are some intricacies worth noticing in there but in amidst a fairly lifeless whole the task of finding them clashes with the inclination to just stop listening.
And given that I don’t dislike Dizraeli I’m half inclined to look to the light side on this one and try to find something positive to say about White Man (Moves) but given the standard of much of the UK Hip Hop that there is out there it’s hard to accept this as being in the same league.
Maybe worth a listen if you’re a definite fan already but if not then probably not.