slowthai - TYRON Music Album Reviews

slowthai - TYRON Music Album Reviews
The UK rapper’s first album since his disastrous appearance at last year’s NME Awards is split between welcome introspection and all-caps boasting. It’s a refreshingly candid self-assessment.

On February 12 last year, it felt like slowthai’s world was falling apart. The Northampton rapper had toasted a raft of nominations at the NME Awards and picked up a bird-flipping trophy as “Hero of the Year.” But a bad joke taken too far meant the night ended in disaster. His lewd interactions with the show’s host, comedian Katherine Ryan, and a later altercation with a member of the audience—after which slowthai was escorted from the venue—made for grim viewing as video clips circulated online, stripped of context. 
The condemnation that followed was widespread and immediate, his career hoisted onto a pyre erected by furious social media users. As hangovers go, the one he woke up to the next day would be monumental. He issued an apology and received vocal support from Ryan. He returned the “Hero” award, asking that it be forwarded to her. She reminded him that “a bad day on social media passes so quickly.” But a year in lockdown offers plenty of time to sit with your thoughts. Though the February 12 release date is a coincidence—pandemic-induced delays pushed it back by a week—it’s hard not to see some significance in TYRON arriving exactly a year to the day since slowthai’s reckoning.

While slowthai’s debut, Nothing Great About Britain, had focused his punkish energy and confirmed him as a righteous voice for a forgotten generation, his gaze turns inward on TYRON, adopting his lyric book as a diary once again. The album is split into two halves of seven tracks each: the first half spelled out in caps lock, with all its implied yelling, and the lower-case second half providing softer moments, with a bed of pop samples and gentle guitar licks beneath slowthai’s spittle-flecked reflections. Four of these second-half tracks were recorded in 2019 and the first months of 2020, while the bulk of the first half was recorded after the disastrous awards show, and the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As repudiations of so-called cancel culture go, “CANCELLED,” featuring Skepta, is among the more ham-fisted. While slowthai at least injects a bit of humor with tongue-in-cheek rhymes of “Harry Potter,” “lobster,” and “vodka,” Skepta’s rigid, boastful chorus (“How you gonna cancel me?/Twenty awards on the mantlepiece/Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury”) only emphasizes the joys of the mute button. “VEX,” “WOT,” and “DEAD,” on the other hand, beg for repeat plays. Here, slowthai is at his cocksure best, weaving around the beat as if it were there for his amusement only. He snarls back at the baying crowd over Kwes Darko’s zappy instrumentals with the same mischievous vim that made early tracks like “T N Biscuits” so inviting.

The album’s bisected structure could be risky in terms of pacing, but the track that forms the pivot point—the cool, confessional “PLAY WITH FIRE”—strikes a deft balance. It channels Dizzee Rascal’s contemplative “Brand New Day” and bristles with witty one-liners (“I’m the next best thing since electric”) and adroit social commentary. The song itself is split in half, and ends with slowthai in dialogue with himself: “Fuck all these expectations/My heart and mind are at war, my soul’s out here playing piggy in the middle/Why do I feel like I’m holding the short straw?” His moment of self-reflection amounts to one of the album’s most revealing passages.

slowthai’s dexterous, free-flowing lyricism provides the foundation of the album’s second half. “focus” is the most casual raised middle finger imaginable: Every second line is quotable, but delivered with the blasé attitude of a kid answering roll call at school. On “terms” he turns stereotypical rap boasts to weighty introspection with a mix of defiance and resignation. A couple of wafty moments—the soft anchor drop of “push”; rap lullaby “feel away”—slip by, overshadowed by two adjacent album highlights: “nhs” and “adhd.” The former, dedicated to the UK’s beloved but beleaguered National Health Service, glides between silly and serious, profound and trite, all hung together with a hooky looping chorus. “adhd,” meanwhile, encapsulates the tussle at TYRON’s core. Listen with a pair of headphones and you’ll feel like slowthai’s pacing on your shoulder, pouring himself into your ears, the coiled-up tension finally loosed as he spits, “Living and I’m dead/Caught in Charlotte’s Web/I can’t feel myself/Mind complexity/Be the death of me.”

In directing his anger inward, slowthai loses some of the urgency and incisiveness that made his debut so compelling, along with the contrast that made that album’s vulnerable moments so striking. But he’s undoubtedly honed his craft, sounding slicker as he retreats from placard rap to the journaling process that got him started in the first place. TYRON’s split setup is a blunt way of showing that there’s more than one side to any person—and any story—and it works, in this instance, as a route towards a more nuanced self-portrait: one that’s honest about slowthai’s flaws, and his frustrations.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
slowthai - TYRON Music Album Reviews slowthai - TYRON Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on February 22, 2021 Rating: 5


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