A decade after his debut album Bogies And Alcohol, Cambridge MC Dirty Dike (real name James Walton) brings us his fifth LP Acrylic Snail (released on the 14th December). For fans of Dirty, you’ll be pleased to hear that nothing has changed, in fact Acrylic Snail is chock-full of his typically blunt lines (there’s plenty of “twats”, “knobs”, and “cunts” for example). There’s also some gritty, unapologetically non-Pop production and of course there’s Dike’s archetypal lyrical onslaught in almost every track.
The album opens with the lead-single “Permanent Midnight” which contains deep bass and a rattling synth, in fact Chemo’s production aptly sounds like the night-time. I should also mention the very catchy chorus which you’ll be repeating every subsequent time you hear the song (“All day, all day, all day, gassed up, wrapped up warm in my North Face”)…
Dirty Dike offers his listeners some impressive raps throughout the album. Generally his style is a mixture of anti-establishment sentiments with a comedic slant (“I don’t wanna spend my life in the pig house, I don’t wanna smell like ham”). In “Whoops” he sports a bit of Trap flow and after bragging about getting CS-gassed, he hilariously raps “I got a wonky eye and a lazy tooth”. In this same song, Mr. Dikestar and Jam Baxter show everybody listening how to flow over a beat, even former High Focus label-mate Rag’N’Bone Man proves he can spit as well as sing. In typical Dirty-Dike-fashion there’s also some humourous lines throughout Acrylic Snail; “Fanny flap, happy slap” in “Caustic Soda” and “E. Honda hand-wanky” in “Ouch” spring to mind. Safe to say that Dirty Dike lyrically satisfies throughout the album.
The production also plays a big part in this album’s success with each track varying in style but complimenting the lyrics and the overall aesthetic of the LP. “Nothing At All” for instance sports a fragmentary beat and distorted vocal sample and sounds like something Thirstin Howl III would have rhymed over back in the day. “Syringe Ditch” incorporates some sombre “oohs” making it a brilliantly melancholic song in the same vein as early A-Alikes joints. “Sun Tan Of A Pig” features an ’80s-sounding synth and sounds like something from a John Carpenter movie and “I Like My Nights Dark” features a vinyl crackle, an old-school guitar sample, not to mention a great nonchalant chorus. And speaking of choruses, the hook in “Still The Same James” is reminiscent of Bankai Fam‘s “Move On” and “Ouch” features a fantastic head-nodding beat and an extremely catchy hook (“Ow, is there a doctor in the house?”).
This Contact Play member has made a great album with Acrylic Snail, the only negative is that the LP’s pace slows down towards the end but the final track (“Rex 01”) lifts-up the mood (plus its always good to hear the extremely underrated Killa P, rhyming “connect” and “correct” like only he can).
The standout tracks on this LP are “Permanent Midnight”, “Nothing At All”, and “Ouch”, the weakest track for me is “Caterpillar Funk” (which sounds like an early-nineties Acid Jazz Funk track – think Brand New Heavies or Stereo MCs) but that being said, it’s still a decent listen. For me, the first official single (“Permanent Midnight”) is arguably the best song, it’s just a pity that the accompanying video doesn’t do the song justice.
With “Nee-Naw, Nee-Naw” ambulance sounds and mentions of “Rodney Trotter” and “Fiat Pandas”, you know that this is unadulterated UK Hip-Hop with no attempt at watering-down its content for international or mainstream audiences (which is a refreshing thing these days). With a flow and delivery that sounds like the golden era of underground UK Hip-Hop, there’s a sense of nostalgia and an adherence to orthodox rap styles that makes this album stand out from all the Hip-Pop currently saturating the scene. Acrylic Snail is a highly enjoyable album, it conjures up images of filthy, grubby concrete floors, smashed windows and graffiti tags in abandoned industrial estates. If you’re sick of all the radio-friendly shite out right now, cop this album and help Dirty Dike take over the game…
At A Snail’s Pace.