“I like lines to be blurred” admits James Dirty Dike. The Cambridge born rappers latest album Sucking on Prawns in the Moonlight is certainly testament to that at times, but what stands out above all is a penchant for razor sharp put downs and grim British humour. A solid crowd favourite in the High Focus canon, the Dikestar has been spreading his visceral brand of pissed-up and pissed-off rap across the UK and beyond. He’s spent the last few years dipping in and out of the limelight, with production credits on releases from grime-rap prodigy Ocean “Spitz” Wisdom and Lee Scott, who makes a guest appearance in closing number Posse Gang Eight Million. That’s not to say the perpetually enraged emcee has been ignoring the mic. Back with his first album since 2013’s Return of the Twat, Dirty Dike may be blurring the lines, but the scathing sincerity behind his introspective the-rap-y (see what I did there?) couldn’t be clearer.

Dike

Lyrically the album is a treasure cove of withering one-liners and ‘too-true’ head-nodders. “Everyday’s a silent war”, “Ad libs are made of shit and cats piss you knob-knock” and “Shut up, fuck off and die proud” are just some of the verbal gems to look forward to, although you may need a dose of fantasy after spending so much time in the world of Dirty Dike. With guest spots from a mixture of rising names and established artists, the album walks a good balance between rowdy party bangers and intelligent social commentary. Jam Baxter, Chester P, Verb T, Remus, Ocean Wisdom, Lee Scott & Dabbla all make an appearance, but this is unmistakably a Dirty album, gnarled and life-weary in the way only the English can be.

The instrumentals feel a bit sluggish at times but the pace switches up often enough, with production from a range of industry names and newcomers including the Dike man himself, Chairman Maf, Klagen, Dr Zygote & Jazz T as well as some cuts courtesy of HF favourite DJ Sammy B-Side. For the most part Sucking on Prawns in The Moonlight is a dark and forbidding place. The sluggish beat and rattling bass of tracks like Hold My Hands just adds to DD’s world; a hazy stagger down the darkest back alleys of hip hop. Every track feels like it’s been filtered through the psyche of a scarred mind, awash with cheap liquor and tweaked sideways by a double dose of chemical indulgence and casual violence. Opening number Great Attempt feels like a scuzzy homage to gritty urban dramas of the seventies; Dikestar and guest Fliptrix spin meditative circles around a simple piano hook.

The production values are unsurprisingly polished, providing the perfect instrumental platform DD’s snarling vocals. First single I Ain’t Got A Clue proves the angry young man of Return of the Twat and 2008’s Bogies & Alcohol is still raging against the world, but this time that rage has been directed out into modern society. Dike may show less retrospective sincerity this time around, but the anger is still swelling just below the surface. Tracks like Isleham Swamp and Paper Tigers throw up a more restrained approach to the mic, but it’s when he lets his guard down that you get a real glimpse at DD’s potential. Of the wealth of quality tracks SOPITML provides, the expertly executed Crystal Cindy stands out for its broody display of instrumental artistry and lyrical wit.

Watch Dirty Dike | I Ain’t Got A Clue

To find out more visit Dirty Dike’s Facebook here You can visit his High Focus page here.

Sucking on Prawns in the Moonlight is out 21/09 and is available to pre-order on CD and limited edition double vinyl

Review by Ben Graham

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