In Sickness & In Health’ is the debut full-length from Dizz1 on Tru Thoughts. The deep and intrepid hip hop of the album has been previewed on two heavy EPs: 2014’s “Everyday Grind”, a red vinyl release featuring Aloe Blacc, Warrior Queen and Om’Mas Keith, which gained support from the likes of Om Unit, Clash, FACT, THUMP, MOJO and Potholes; and “Get ‘Em Up”, which drops on azure blue wax three weeks ahead of the album (4th May). The latter EP unveils tracks with renowned rapper Frank Nitt (Frank N Dank, Yancey Boys, J Dilla) as well as a bonus Danny Breaks remix, and recently gained the ultimate endorsement in forward-thinking hip hop when it was leaked upfront by Flying Lotus on his BBC R1 Residency.
With the scene already well and truly set, there is still much to unearth on this wide-ranging album. In its creation, Dizz1 – AKA Melbourne based Dave Norris – had a mission to explore progressive, long-building, deep dance music arrangements in a hip hop context and tempo, with the idea of getting his favourite MCs to spit over beats that are far from the conventional looped bars. Reflecting the esteem in which he is held, his dream team of vocalists materialised; a host of collaborators lined up to help transmute Dizz1’s vision via their charisma and lyrical chops.
Up there as one of Norris’s favourite MCs ever, Tame One of the Artifacts was one of the first to come correct and cement the concept, on “So Beautiful”. “He came back with exactly what I had in mind and I knew this was meant to be”, says Norris; “Just building and dancing without any urgency. It is a pure example of my take on hip hop.”
Sadat X (Brand Nubian) lends his firebrand intensity in a hard-hitting slice of storytelling over a suspenseful and edgy beat on “Reach Out Or Not”; “We Go Ridin’ feat. Om’Mas Keith” sees the Jay-Z, Kanye and Frank Ocean co-producer Keith hopping over into the vocal booth, for a collaboration which came about after he heard the dirty, bass-heavy rhythm track and simply responded, “Yo. Throw that in my Pro Tools!”
Australia based British rapper Motley brings his fiercely irreverent game, featuring alongside the soulful Melbourne singer Candice Monique on “Upsidedown”, “Love” (co-produced with Hospital Records’ Royalston) and the cheeky closing gambit “I Do Me”, described by Norris as a “salute to all the greats who came before me and a smile for all the haters who can’t ignore me.” He also spars with RUCL, the Jamaican born singer’s R&B and dancehall infused sound proving the perfect foil, on the dark and disturbed “Stuck On You”.
Adept at weaving a unique web of sound to complement the styles of his vocalists, Dizz1’s warm, bouncing and intricate backdrop makes an outstanding platform for Frank Nitt’s direct, energetic flow on “Get ‘Em Up”, while the monster break on “Higher” combines a log-drumming rhythm from Melbourne based West Papua New Guinea musician Airileke with some neck snapping Dizz1 drums and scratches. “What You Want” is a refreshing, funky electro-infused cut with duo Killbot Kindergarten, its snaking bass and singer Youka’s harmony-laced vocals punctuated with more bars from Nitt and enveloped in Dizz1’s on-point production.
Known for his “feel” – whether it’s scratching, drumming or programming those sideways beats – turntablist, producer and drummer Dizz1 has been in the music industry for over a decade, including two years in Japan. In the early ‘00s he played major festivals, appeared on Channel V and toured across Australia, Malaysia and New Zealand, rising quickly to perform alongside the likes of Grand Master Flash, Roni Size, Jam Master Jay (RIP) and JRocc.
Testament to his strength and philosophical nature, he managed to keep rising despite breaking his neck in 2004 and becoming temporarily paralysed with a titanium plate in place. During his rehabilitation he buried himself in the studio, and once recovered he hit the road, playing across the globe and teaching Ableton Live and Logic, everywhere from Indigenous communities to prisons, creating his own unique curriculum focused on promoting positive vibes through music. More recently, he has been blowing up all over the place, from playing at Sonar to attending the Red Bull Music Academy to gaining airplay from Gilles Peterson, Mary Anne Hobbs and Benji B. He has performed alongside a who’s-who of quality music, from De La Soul and Mos Def to Gaslamp Killer and Loefah. His studio collaborations include Mark Pritchard, Steve Spacek (Africa Hitech), DJ Vadim and Roots Manuva, who featured his production “Here We Go Again” as a single on his ‘4everevolution’ LP.