British rapper slowthai’s “TYRON” is my cup of tea
By Mead Gill, Copy & Online Editor
From the depths of Northampton, Tyron Frampton, better known as slowthai, is back and better than ever with his second full-length album “TYRON.” The album builds upon the abrasive musical style slowthai created on his first album “Nothing Great About Britain,” and adds a new emotional comprehension that fans have not yet heard. Without a doubt, the man’s mental health is less than ideal. Yes, the same rapper that performed holding a fake severed head of Boris Johnson actually has feelings, and they are nothing short of scarring.
REVIEW. British rapper Tyron Frampton, better known as slowthai, releases a new album. Copy and Online Editor Mead Gill reviews the rapper’s second album.
“TYRON” is split into two parts, seven songs each. Throughout the first leg, slowthai sticks to his guns with his typical frantically out of control rapping style. Bangers like “CANCELLED (feat. Skepta)” and “MAZZA (feat. A$AP Rocky)” show slowthai and company ripping through eerily repetitive beats with unmatched confidence and entitlement. Both guest artists bring their ‘A’ game, delivering cheeky bars about jewelry, drugs, and all their achievements; it is topically classic hip-hop done well.
The track “PLAY WITH FIRE” sets up a smooth transition into the back end of the album, where slowthai reflects on his borderline psychotic lifestyle and persona. Even though there are consequences to his actions, he continues to “play with fire” and push the boundaries that society and the industry has imposed upon him.
slowthai dives straight into the depths of his mental health entering the second half of the album. Right off the bat, “i tried” includes a haunting Trey Gruben sample that reads as “I tried to die, I tried to take my life.” The song feels similar to Kanye West’s “Bound 2” in both tempo and sentiment.
“focus” is, to put it plainly, a vibe and a half. The track features a bouncy beat and baseline, making it difficult not to get up and do a little jiggy, despite the lyrics being about never fulfilling one’s true potential. A downer, yes, but a bop nonetheless.
The one dud on the tracklist is arguably “push (feat. Deb Never)”. While it is an impassioned tune, it comes off a little corny. slowthai and Never have little vocal chemistry, and the song essentially sounds like two random tracks precariously jigsawed together. Luckily the two perform well enough on their own to make it listenable.
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: slowthai performs on stage during day 1 of Lovebox 2019 at Gunnersbury Park on July 12, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Burak Cingi/Redferns)
Finishing off the album, slowthai undoubtedly left the best for last. “nhs” shows slowthai contemplating his childhood and the meaning of his existence, describing his mind as dead and microwaved. The listener feels as if they are standing in the rain on a grey day, letting the raindrops trickle down their body, slowly filling up their boots. It is a touching culmination of sadness, yet the verses are laid over a series of dramatic major piano chords, making it surprisingly difficult not to smile. This may show the emotional confusion slowthai is dealing with — he even labels the track as “such a ***ing happy song.”
Last but not least, the song “adhd” includes a snippet of a voicemail in which slowthai is speaking to a lost loved one, potentially his recently incarcerated brothers. Musically, the track begins with the same chilled atmosphere previously heard throughout the album’s second half, but ends with slowthai returning to his bombastic vocal delivery as seen in the first half. The man is in an emotional loop-the-loop in a potentially downward spiral.
As many fans immediately recognized, this sensitive side of the rapper as seen on “TYRON” is a new musical avenue for slowthai. Since his last album, slowthai has grown as a person, and so has his artistic expression. This newfound vulnerability, though unfamiliar, should be embraced with open arms. It takes guts to bare one’s core emotions to such a large audience, especially when emotions are this dark and hard-hitting. slowthai’s willingness to break down barriers and experiment with new ideas is exactly what artistic expression is all about.