He is the voice of young London. That’s what Danny Boyle thought when he gave Dizzee Rascal the biggest gig of his life at the Olympic Opening Ceremony, watched by 1 billion people on TV, with 80 heads of state, the Queen and Michelle Obama in the crowd.
What went through your mind stepping out in front of all those people?
‘I was just thinking: get out there and have fun, and don’t be the one that fucks it up.’
What did it mean to be there in Stratford, close to you where you grew up?
‘It’s just been fucking amazing. I ran with the torch through the streets of east London the week before. The way it’s happened is just unreal, some amazing shit.’
What effect has the Olympics had on Bow?
‘If you went to my estate, there isn’t much change. You ask people there, I’m sure they don’t feel too much a part of it. That’s why it was good for me to be up there. Saying that, it helps to bring attention to the area and put a positive light on the area. And anything that does happen will take time to trickle down. It’ll be really interesting to see what happens, because, at the end of the day, when the Olympics go, the country’s still going to be in recession. And where I’m from is the poorest borough in London. It’s got the highest child poverty in England, I think.’
What law would you pass if you were the boss of London for a week?
’Twenty-four-hour youth clubs would be standard, a safe place for kids to just be all the time. You need a place for those people who are having a hard time at home or whatever, somewhere to be safe, have fun, not think about it. It’d be a happier generation. I think that would solve a lot of problems. It takes generations to undo the bullshit.’
What makes London music special?
‘Everywhere you go in the world the vibe’s different. London’s got its own vibe: it’s the shrewdness, the aggression, the sarcasm, the humour, and then sometimes the community spirit, you know, all boiled into one.’
Dizzee Rascal’s single ‘Scream’, featuring his protégé and newest Dirtee Stank signing Pepper, is out now.