U.K. rap star Dizzee Rascal may take home his second Barclayard Mercury Prize, this time for his fourth album "Tongue N' Cheek," when the prestigious British award is handed out in London tonight (Sept. 7). Although a win would make him the first artist to notch two Mercury awards, the 25-year-old rapper is more concerned with his other current projects, including "Loca," a new collaboration with Shakira for her forthcoming album "Sale el Sol."
Dizzee tells Billboard.com that he only joined the Colombian pop star in her studio for about an hour to work on "Loca," but that he was "honored" to contribute to her new disc, due out Oct. 19. "She's a bit of a trendsetter -- she does loads of different things on a major scale," says Dizzee. "You'd expect her to use an American rapper [for the song], but she chose me. It meant a lot."
In the English version of the song, the rapper tosses off rhymes like, "Chica caliente, Got me rapping to merengue/I feel so el presidente" in between Shakira's stylish pop vocals. While "Loca" is Dizzee Rascal's first stab at Latin music, he says that he would have no problem working more closely with the genre in the future.
"I'd like to be in that Spanish market. I got into the whole reggaeton thing when it came out, so I always wanted to get around to something like that," says the rapper. Dizzee also says that working with Shakira was a good place to start, and that he'd love to collaborate with Pitbull as well. "He did a freestyle over one of my tracks on one of my mixtapes, so that's all it's been so far, but I'd love to see it. I like how far he's come in his career."
Meanwhile, Dizzee is serving as a judge alongside Jamie Cullum and Sharleen Spiteri on "Must Be the Music," a British talent show which premiered on U.K. network Sky1 last month. The rapper says he was attracted to "Music" because, unlike "The X Factor" or "Britain's Got Talent," the show emphasizes artist development.
"'Must Be the Music' basically gives the artists full control," says Dizzee, who will help crown a winner on Sept. 19 at Wembley Arena. "Their music is put out on iTunes, but they get the money off the sales, it doesn't go to anybody else...And we try to give people constructive criticism, instead of just telling them that they're shit."
While Dizzee Rascal hasn't started working on his fifth album yet, he feels confident that fourth album "Tongue N' Cheek" has a good chance to take home the Mercury Prize tonight. "Nobody's ever won it twice," says the rapper, "but as far as the quality of the album, there's no reason why it shouldn't."