slowthai
TYRON


3.8
excellent

Review

by MiloRuggles STAFF
March 8th, 2021 | 21 replies


Release Date: 02/12/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 808s and piss-takes

When Tyron Frampton was but a wee boy running amok in the streets of Northampton, his laboured manner of speaking earned him a nickname that some of you clever cookies out there might recognise as a homonym: Slow Ty. Ouch. Add an unfortunate dash of poverty into the pot, simmer with a posse of mates destined for petty crime and inevitable incarceration, season with a predilection for drugs as a means of escape, and you have yourself an underdog so desperate and vulnerable that a young Guy Ritchie might've cast Tyron and the boiz as he did all those proper 'ard lookin' Londoners in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in 1998, mapping out an obsessive, Kubrickian level of auteurism that would eventually deliver 2019's magnum opus Aladdin unto a sea of eager cinephiles.

Of course, poverty-stricken victims of modern statehood have always traveled hand-in-hand, Thelma & Louise-style, with hip-hop, though the fade-to-white as the car plunges down the cliffside is a great deal less poetic in the real world. True enough, hip-hop was founded on — and continues to be developed by — people that were dealt tragic hands. Capitalism's a shady dealer, huh?

Similar as this story may sound, slowthai's vibrant personality lends him a particular distinction from many of his peers. His deep bag of tricks includes various vocal inflections ranging from British Lad On Tour to Raging Gordon Ramsay to Oh God, Why Is He Singing Again? in mere moments. His frequent use of slang and patois builds atop his dynamic performances, lacing his music with a defined sense of locality that allows him to express his loves and frustrations regarding his life, his home town, and his country with a brash air of authenticity.

Vibrant ambition can be a double-edged sword, though. Nothing Great About Britain, slowthai's debut record, was packed with fire and brimstone, and moments of sweet clarity that rightfully bestowed Next Big Thing credentials upon Tyron, but it also contained an inconsistent tracklist filled with spots so comparatively weak that I still can't hear the word 'grapefruit' without retching up my most recent meal.

TYRON largely succeeds in avoiding this inconsistency. The album is trim, at just 35 minutes, and has been split into two halves: bangers (UPPER CASE TRACK TITLES), followed by bops and jams (lower case track titles).

slowthai's lyrics are largely decent, and eventually/occasionally meander into greatness. “45 SMOKE”'s slang-infused opening tirade is a cleverly placed and vivid scene-setter, painting his background in broad strokes. Awkwardly, when “CANCELLED” follows, slowthai makes up roughly a quarter of the song's lyrical content as Skepta delivers three choruses and a verse all on his own. To top it all off, Skepta's Jodorowsky reference makes slowthai's mention of Ong Bak sound like pure pleb shit. I suppose this is what happens when you tangle with a Midnight Movie aficionado mad enough to namedrop Gaspar Noé in his raps.

slowthai's humour is a constant presence throughout TYRON. “Heard your man's mixtape, thought it's a piss-take” on “VEX” tickles me pink, and a tale of dropping “an eccy with your mum” before making her “bend back like croissants” on the short and sharp “WOT” is outrageous. This humour is sometimes misplaced, with the most egregious example popping up on album highlight “nhs”, where an emotionally hard-hitting first verse ends with, “Try breathing, you might find freedom / Instead of squeezing up your buttocks tryna hold ya shit in”. Fortunately, amends are made in the second verse, where slowthai grounds himself again, leaving poo puns alone despite beginning with, “All the best shit's got scratches on the surface”. This leads to a series of both thoughtful and silly questions that make for a creatively satisfying verse: “[what's] Rick without Morty? / Lil Wayne without codeine? / A rapper without jewelery? / Real person, surely / What's health without poorly? / What's wealth without the poor? Please...

When slowthai engages in such sincerity (jokes inclusive), his music gains a more concrete and unique sense of identity, and his best songs emerge. This is all too apparent on the breath-taking closer “adhd”, a song which Tyron himself says is the “most connected [he's] been to a song. It's the clearest depiction of what [his] voice naturally sounds like...” Surprise, surprise; the four best tracks on here are bereft of capital letters. Sincerity is becoming on the kid.

The differences between the album's 'sides' don't stop there. Although the front half's 808s and skittering high hats have edges sharp enough to draw blood — largely courtesy of long-time collaborator Kwes Darko — it's the second half where the production really comes into its own. Mount Kimbie and Kenny Beats enter the fray here (alongside Darko and many others), and are tasked with imbuing the lowercase confessionals with an emotional undercurrent strong enough for slowthai to float on. Highlights include a touching guitar/vocal hook from Deb Never that “push” builds itself upon, a radio-ready chorus from Dominic Fike (feat. Denzel Curry) on “terms”, “nhs”'s sorrowful yet reassuring piano, and — perhaps the biggest surprise here — a frankly beautiful back-and-forth between the singing of slowthai (sorry for the jab earlier, bruv) and James Blake on “feel away”.

If you couldn't tell already, slowthai is not short on collaborators. Even on his debut release, musicians were gravitating to slowthai like chavs to a whippet [Bavitz, I., (2014). “The Soup”, Bestiary. Rhymesayers Entertainment.]. Moreso's the case here, and the resulting cavalcade of artists involved lend TYRON the diversity that slowthai's style demands, without laying the creative onus on him and Kwes Darko alone. The end result is an album that passes by without any significant misfires, and at least a handful of headshots. It's probably a stretch to say that he's met the potential signified by the queue of people within the industry clamoring to work with him, but TYRON's best cuts provide further unequivocal evidence that there is something special about Tyron Frampton.



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user ratings (108)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2021


1109 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Woah, Sputnik's first slowthai review!

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
March 8th 2021


13561 Comments


Woah Milo's first staff review : ]

Digging: Stargazer (AUS) - Psychic Secretions

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2021


7012 Comments


yes lad yum good words

Pheromone
Contributing Reviewer
March 8th 2021


12762 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

sputnik's first slowthai review?! madness. it's great



slowthai did a tour around England where tickets were £1 only - did one for £5 more recently too and he's massive here. big legend for that.

Digging: Heroic Doses - Heroic Doses

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2021


1109 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

O ye Nocte, had to flex that decimal, as is tradition.

Cheers sleepy, cheers phero. This one took me ages for some reason.

£1?! Did you go (despite your rating), phero? I imagine there'd be utter scenes at his live show.

Pangea
March 8th 2021


5956 Comments


Really liked his feature on last years disclosure album so will def check

Digging: Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2021


44752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

nice one miles



first half of this is whatever but the second is phenomenal

Pheromone
Contributing Reviewer
March 8th 2021


12762 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i did not!



but i definitely would have had i know before the fact, i have never really ridden the slowthai hype wave, but he does look damn good live (his mercury prize performance hot damn)



good to see some UK hip-hop getting some hype in a big way

ian b
Contributing Reviewer
March 8th 2021


1780 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

heck gosh darn i sure do love these words! almost as much as that pretty boy from my hometown Dominic Fike he's a hootin tootin cutie!! yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

Digging: Hospital Bracelet - South Loop Summer

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2021


44752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

my ambition is to go see slowthai and Denzel and simply perish when they play Psycho

ian b
Contributing Reviewer
March 8th 2021


1780 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

imagine that going INTO terms and dom fike comes out tho....... holy Fuck

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2021


44752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

they really had me expecting a full Zeltron verse on terms and he has two fuckin lines. smh

claygurnz
March 8th 2021


6368 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This owns, one of my favourite albums from this year for sure.

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2021


3609 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Didn't love this first few listens, but review makes me wanna re-check. Amazing work.



AxeToFall93
March 8th 2021


280 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Stellar record.

Gyromania
March 8th 2021


31959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice. I think I overrated this a bit and it's prob closer to a 3. Cancelled and feel away are stellar tracks tho

Digging: Daniel Knox - Won't You Take Me With You

Snake.
March 8th 2021


22714 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

alluuuuhpeeeeeshuhhhhhhhhhhh

zakalwe
March 8th 2021


33170 Comments


Bloke is an absolute fucking stroker

porcupinetheater
Contributing Reviewer
March 9th 2021


6879 Comments


Summary of the year

Digging: Bongripper - Satan Worshipping Doom

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
March 9th 2021


1109 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Daaww, thanks to those with kind words above. Figured this would be a divisive artist here.

Important question:Who has the scarier smile- slowthai or Richard D. James?



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