On Metacritic, the album received an aggregate score of 92/100 (indicating "universal acclaim"), and currently ranks sixty-second on that site's list of highest-rated albums. Allmusic called it "Startling, tirelessly powerful, and full of unlimited dimensions, nothing could truly weigh down this debut -- not even a Mercury Prize". Robert Christgau praised the album, giving it an A- and saying that as "Someone who mocked the minimal means of U.K. garage and considered the Streets barely music at all, I was captivated by Dizzee's sound the moment I heard the import".Entertainment Weekly stated, "Combining U.K. garage beats and a distinctly British sensibility, Rascal spits out phrases with the energy and finesse of a championship boxer".The Village Voice stated, "When Dizzee thinks very deeply--worrying about growing up, about those around him who won't grow up, about dying before he grows up--he sounds like, what else can we call it, the real thing".Rolling Stone stated, "If you want a vision of the future of hip-hop and techno, get this record".
NME called it "one of the most assured debut albums of the last five years". Pitchfork Media's Scott Plagenhoef stated, "Dizzee's despairing wail, focused anger, and cutting sonics places him on the front lines in the battle against a stultifying Britain, just as Pete Townshend, Johnny Rotten, and Morrissey have been in the past". Stylus Magazine stated, "Most of Boy in Da Corner's most compelling moments come from this uneasy interaction between irrational youth and ultra-rational mechanized society". PopMatters called it "an album that can be loved as both an achievement and an experience, a document and a revelation; it is simultaneously a problem to be solved and a spectacle to simply witness". Alexis Petridis of The Guardian called Dizzee "the most original and exciting artist to emerge from dance music in a decade".Uncut called him the "best rapper this country's ever produced, period.... Next to Dizzee Rascal everybody looks pale, uninteresting and irrelevant". Mojo gave the album 5 out of 5 stars saying it is "brilliantly original".
Boy in da Corner won Dizzee Rascal the 2003 Mercury Prize, becoming the first rapper to win the award. In 2009, it was voted the sixth greatest album of all time by MTV Base. The album is featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. The record peaked at number twenty-three on the UK Albums Chart. It has sold over 58,000 units in the U.S. and over 250,000 copies worldwide. The album also reached gold status in the UK selling 260,000 copies.