It was first being played in raves and pirate radio stations back in 2002 on its original white label release, yet still to this day it gets the reactions like it first did. At the tender age of 16, Dizzee Rascal made I Luv U in the space of just 20 minutes. His manager Cage, had the sounds and samples laid down in his studio for Dizzee to play around with, then wrote and recorded the lyrics the following day. It’s amazing how something made so quickly has proven to stand the test of time to become a cult-classic.
What’s really intriguing, is that it shouldn’t be a good song. It’s too different. We shouldn’t understand it. However, I constantly find myself naturally dissecting the musicality and impact behind it. I Luv U is one of the few songs that I’ve listened to constantly for the last 12-odd years. To most ears, it sounds like something out of this world. However if we dig a little deeper into Dylan’s influences at that time, we can possibly connect the dots and get a better understanding of the sound he subconsciously pursued.
Before we get started, please know that this is just my interpretation, so everything is open for different ideas. Also, some of my sources are not longer accessible so I can’t re-check on facts that I’m almost certain are right.
So we’ll start with what we’re already told. Is That Yo Chick (by Jay Z) and What’s Your Fantasy (by Ludacris) are the only specific songs that Dizzee has ever actually mentioned which influenced the making of I Luv U. The emulation of the half-time tempo (or double-time, depending on your perspective) from these two songs are not only apparent, but significant to the transformation of Garage to Grime, especially with producers like Timbaland pioneering this. It’s crucial to understand that mainstream hip hop was in a very different space back in 2002. The South were definitely not as dominant and influential to the mainstream music sphere like they are now. Not to mention the significant differences in terms of musicality, with different tempos, different rhyming patterns and emphasis on the 808 sound.
When most in the UK was submerging themselves with the New York culture (think Dipset and G-Unit), Dizzee’s unique love for also the South at that time is what helped to make his music stand out from those around him. It was guys like Project Pat, Master P and Three 6 Mafia just a few to name, that really helped define his sound. It also just happened to be that the music that he was trying to replicate from the South, was at a similar tempo of what DJ’s from the emerging Garage scene in East London were playing (guys like Slimzee, Target and Carnage), making his music stand out even more from what was being played around him. Just listen to any Slimzee set from 2002 and the evidence is clear (@29.00).
Prior to 2002, the majority of what was coming from the scene consisted of 2-step and 4×4 drum patterns, tracks like Terrible (by Roll Deep), Saved Soul (DJ Narrows), Pulse X (By Musical Mobb), etc were what defined the scene. However after I Luv U, more producers started to experiment more with half-time drum patterns, with tracks like What (by DJ Wonder), Take You Out (by Nasty Crew) and Ground Zero (by Wiley) starting to emerge. Had Southern Hip Hop been a bigger mainstream influence at that time, maybe a Dizzee Rascal wouldn’t not have been so special because everyone would be influenced by the same sound – like what I feel is happening right now in the UK.
Garage MC have always shown a second love for Hip Hop, often having typical East-Coast “boom-bap” beats as a B-side, but Rap Dis by Oxide and Neutrino was the only half-time garage song to come from its scene prior to I Luv U. Songs like Gridlock (by DJ Marsta), Dem Lott Ere Now (by Dem Lott) and Glitch (by Big Shot) were half-time tracks that were released at around the same time as I Luv U, yet these are only four songs from the hundreds in the scene.
Even though I Luv U drew clear influences from the South, it was still very close to home with the UK’s rave scene, not just being in the tempo of Garage but with the of heavier sonics of Jungle. Dizzee has said that it was largely Southern Hip Hop, Jungle and Grunge which were his main influences at that time but was involved in the late Garage scene as that’s what was going on around him. If we listen carefully to some of the live recordings from raves he was in back in 2002 (Sidewinder, Young Man Standing and later Eskimo Dance), we can can get an idea of the type of songs that were going down well at raves.
Hearing the crowds draw of their horns or screaming “boooo!” (meaning a good thing) was always an indication of a banger. Of course 90% of what the DJ’s were playing consisted of bangers, otherwise they wouldn’t be played. But it’s still interesting to know what made the diamonds shine from the rest of the rocks and what contributed to the reloads.
There’s so much more I want to include: the influence of the “I-Love-You-You-You” hook from Three 6 Mafia, the “donk” sounds that got big reactions in the raves, the strings of “What’s Your Fantasy” replicated into the chorus of I Luv U – but I find it so difficult to convey all my thoughts into words.
Hopefully this gave you an idea as to how influential this particular record was. It’s easy to say that “Grime just sounds like Rap” in today’s climate but really, you need to understand how different the music landscape has changed in the last decade – and it’s frustrating that nobody actually mentions this. Please drop some comments and let me know what you guys thinks.
Dizzee on Rosenberg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8dOAYpWass
Dizzee on Sway https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yT-2ObHQVV0
Dizzee on XFM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FySZ06RpwX4
below are my notes, thoughts and ideas throughout the process of writing this, i just thought it might be cool to leave in there if people wanted to see it
What made people
sce tho still didn have the impact for rave.. definte more rap influeend (hence in the name) wanted to difiritente from garage dizzee vex not uk so get used to it (more fire crew -popular ..
yet the connection to garage the donk
wrtie lyrics to is that yo chick
experimented with the sampled laid by cage
ceated and wrote beat in 20 mins
later wrtoe the lyrcis to is that yo chick, mustve had is that yo hick in mind when making beat
recordedlyrics next days]=
He originally wrote the lyrics to Jay Z and Missy Elliot’s Is That Yo Chick
He was only 16 when he recorded it.
dizzee has said in loads of interviews that his manager cage already has the samples laid down on a sampler and then dizzee he made the beat in 20 mins bcoz cage wanted to leave
AND more importantly, please understand that I’m not some 2016 Grime fanboy, this is my culture, from singing Bound 4 Da Reload in the school playgrounds to my older brother bringing home bootleg Risky Roads DVDs from Wembley market.
mc,wiley, doudble e, riddles, skibadee
grunge, heavy metal, garage, dancehall and three six mafia, project pat (DJ Paul crunk trap)> timbaland and neptunes were popping at that time, neptunes simple production earlier to replicate,
wrote i luv u to that is that your chick (not even instru) and whats your fantasy, had those two beats in mind when making the beat (and three six mafia heavy influence) [kryme and boydem about also had same infleunces) “i i iluv u ” is how they made their hooks
soundsystem and rave culture bcoz thats what he was around (ppl wernt shooting hood videos for youtube like that back then) rinse and deja were key influences because thats what was accessable at that time (around his area).. drum and bass mcs (taking pride in the accent), wasnt into ny hip hop (wasnt musical enough) but liked tupac snoop and bone thugs .. beats to easy to emulate (more capsulated by the music) (dipset, evenone wanted to be like them in uk). infleucnial on the music side of grime at that time, he influenced people to chnage the way they made beats (yeah even wiley chnaged), his dnb influence made him feel that he didnt need to sounnd american (unapologetic)
cage doesnt get credit but has done the most,