(swiped from Pitchfork Media)
Shortly after Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential election, Dizzee Rascal checked in via satellite for a chat with television presenter Jeremy Paxman on the BBC program "Newsnight". The topic, not so surprisingly, was race, one the BBC's U.S. press counterparts were addressing in earnest at the time as well, given the milestone nature of Obama's victory.
It could have been another enlightening conversation on a subject on the minds of many, but as noted in a recent report in The Guardian, plenty of folks are none too happy about the way the Paxman chat played out.
Paxman has drawn criticism for being "patronising," "crass," and, as a separate Guardian TV & Radio Blog post puts it, "condescending." In particular, his decision to ask Dizzee Rascal "Do you feel yourself to be British?" has raised eyebrows, as some feel the same question would never have been asked of a white musician. Further complicating that point is a statement in the Guardian story from a BBC spokesperson, which suggests Paxman's question followed a comment about "Britishness" from former House of Lords leader Baroness Amos, who was also part of the chat. That comment appears in the interview transcript The Guardian has published, but not in the video of the program that's making the rounds (see below).
Dizzee's seen his share of flak as well, from other rappers and citizens who feel he misrepresented black and/or hip-hop culture, and from some 50 viewers who, The Guardian notes, wrote in to the BBC to question the rapper's "suitability as a guest on [a] special...watched by 1.4 million people." Judge for yourself in the video below, but frankly I find it hard to slight Dizzee for basically being himself, even if he was sometimes tangled up by the semantics and some of Paxman's dodgier questions (How exactly is one meant to respond to "Do you believe in political parties in Britain?" anyway?). Have a look:
Dizzee's UK label XL has no comment on the matter, and notes that Dizzee himself is not available for comment. He may well be off gearing up for a short UK jaunt that kicks off this weekend, or prepping for the arena-sized audiences he'll face when he opens for the Prodigy in April of next year.
11-15 Glasgow, Scotland - ABC
11-17 Norwich, England - UEA
11-18 Southampton, England - Guildhall
11-19 Leeds, England - Academy
11-20 Lincoln, England - The Engine Shed
11-22 London, England - Forum
04-05 Cardiff, Wales - International Arena *
04-06 Newcastle, England - Arena *
04-07 Glasgow, Scotland - SECC Hall *
04-09 Birmingham, England - NIA *
04-10 Manchester, England - MEN Arena *
04-11 Nottingham, England - Arena *
04-13 Sheffield, England - Arena *
04-14 Brighton, England - Brighton Centre *
04-17 London, England - Wembley Arena *
* with the Prodigy