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Watch as Judi Dench proves she is 'dench' by rapping with grime star Lethal Bizzle

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 5 days ago By Patrick Sawer, Senior Reporter


One is an 82-year-old actress whose breadth of performances on screen, stage and television over the decades have made her a national treasure.

The other is a grime MC whose gritty accounts of the highs and lows of urban life have seen him acquire cult status.

So when Judy Dench and Lethal Bizzle joined forces for a musical collaboration the results were always going to be rather startling.

After all, not many fans of Dame Judy’s portrayal of Queen Victoria, or the steely spy chief M of the James Bond films, could ever have imagined her rapping.

© Provided by The Telegraph

But rap she does when she teams up with Bizzle for a rather bizarre, but very British musical venture.

Picture Dench getting her classically trained lips around: “'Anywhere I go gang rolling”, or “Pow, yeah I’m Ju-to-the-di.”

Well, after a hesitant start, she nails it - like the veteran pro that she is.

The pair got together in the studio for the online entertainment magazine LADbible, after Dame Judi had expressed her pleasure that the slang word Bizzle had coined for ‘nice’ or ‘brilliant’ was by coincidence the same as her surname.

The singer has even used the term Dench for his successful clothes brand Stay Dench. Bizzle says he came up with the word in 2010 while playing a videogame with his cousin, the former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong

In the LAbible video Dame Judi gamely tries on one of Bizzle’s Stay Dench caps. Rifling through a box of the branded caps she picks out a snappy white one, exclaiming:  “Oh I say! Look at this – can I wear it? This is an excellent size.”

Lethal Bizzle performing at this year's Reading Festival, in AugustCredit: Burak Cingi/Redferns

Then it’s down to business as Bizzle, who emerged from the East London music scene in 2002 with the grime single ‘Oi’, teaches her some rap verses of his hit single Celebrate.

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Dame Judi, ever the professional, is keen to pin down the meaning of the phrase 'anywhere I go gang rolling', asking: “What? What does that mean?”

Bizzle, 32, explains: “That means anywhere I go my friends are coming with me.” The pair then move on to the line “big, big batty on the left.”

Tentatively at first, but with growing confidence the star of Philomena and the gentle TV comedy As Time Goes By gets into her groove.

The pair than take on a version of Bizzle’s ‘Pow’, with the specially adapted lyrics: “Pow, yeah I’m Ju-to-the-di/Pow, if you don’t know about me/Better ask someone quickly.”

The purists may not like it, but Dame Judi has given it her seal of approval.

“I love it,” she said, laughing with delight.

Respect to the Dame, as they might now be saying in Bizzle’s ‘ends’*.

As with most slang terminology there is some dispute over the origins of the word Dench.

Lethal Bizzle says the slang word Dench was coined in 2010 when he and his cousin Emmanuel Frimpong, the former Arsenal player, began using it as an exclamation while playing video games.

Some have said the word was already being used on the East London urban music scene - of which Bizzle was a key figure - as a way of expressing admiration by youngsters.

The singer defined the word as an adjective that "can be used when complimenting something. For example, 'That car is dench!' Or, 'Oi look at that girl, she's dench!'"

Bizzle and Frimpong began using it on Twitter, Facebook and other social media, with Bizzle using it in his 2010 single Dench Stamina.

© Provided by The Telegraph

It took off and after someone printed the word on a T-shirt, Bizzle and Frimpong launched a clothing brand, producing tops and baseball caps with the slogan "Stay Dench".

Macmillan noted the word in April 2013 and included it in the update to its online dictionary, defining dench as "used for saying that someone or something is extremely attractive, fashionable, impressive etc".

In 2012 Dame Judy Dench told the Radio 1 DJ Greg James that she was thrilled at the use of her surname as an adjective and seeing it printed on T-shirts and caps.

The surname Dench is of early medieval English origin, and is understood to have referred to someone from Denmark.

The name derives from the Middle English term ‘densch', Danish, a development of the Old English pre 7th Century word 'denisc'.

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