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Slowthai - TYRON (Album Review)

Tuesday, 16 February 2021 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Crowns & Owls

How do you demonstrate edginess without scaring the audience? How do you avoid cancellation after public transgressions? What price will you pay for authenticity? On his second album ‘TYRON’ Slowthai attempts to answer some of these questions.

First, some context. After becoming a breakout star for his Mercury-nominated debut LP ‘Nothing Great About Britain’, the performer made a stink at the NME Awards just before lockdown, skeezing over host Katherine Ryan before getting in a fight—an actual fight—with an audience member who called him out for it.

As such, ‘TYRON’ is divided into two halves. The first is a CAPS LOCK ON journey through his more obnoxious, inebriated persona, featuring noisy collabs with A$AP Rocky, on MAZZA, and Skepta, on CANCELLED.

This latter track addresses the fallout from the NME snafu, but weirdly Slowthai shares (or palms off) some of the most direct bars. “How you gonna cancel me? / 20 awards on the mantelpiece / Pyramid stage at Glastonbury,” Skepta spits. It's a move that doesn't fully front up to the situation and, to put it bluntly, smacks of immaturity and emotional cowardice.

The second half, written in lowercase, is a more thoughtful affair with nuanced production and sophisticated lyrical rhythms. The stand out is terms, this time featuring Dominic Fike and Denzel Curry. This track matches an old school hip hop sound (read: scratching and samples) with the trap drum patches that rule pop. It's excellent.

nhs is also noteworthy, but in a slightly vexing way. It’s a soft rap track that is ostensibly about working class ennui and named for—note: not directly about—the National Health Service. As such, the messaging is slightly dubious. Is Slowthai simply weaponizing the “closest thing the UK has to a religion” to cynically double down on his compassionate, working class credentials? Such a reading is in itself highly cynical, and yet the track remains...unconvincing.

'TYRON' is a decent record but it doesn't really answer the initial questions, neither in its lyrical content or in terms of musical quality. That may not be such a problem—Slowthai is 26 and has lots of room for development—but the nagging fear is that the excesses that hold him back on this record may grow into more creatively detrimental problems down the track. Hopefully not. He's a formidable poetic talent.

Slowthai Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue August 31 2021 - GLASGOW G2
Wed September 01 2021 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Thu September 02 2021 - BIRMINGHAM Hare and Hounds
Tue September 07 2021 - OXFORD Bullingdon
Wed September 08 2021 - SOUTHAMPTON Joiners Arms
Thu September 09 2021 - LONDON Underworld

Compare & Buy Slowthai Tickets at Stereoboard.com.



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