Slowthai’s Mercury Prize nominated debut LP Nothing Great About Britain hit listeners back in 2019 with a series of politically charged tunes delivered in his unique Northampton drawl.
Since the release of this album, he has quickly gained a strong cult following, as well as a host of musical admirers both in the UK and overseas. He featured on songs with Gorrilaz, Aminé, and Tyler the Creator, just to name a few.
The release of his latest effort TYRON sees Slowthai in a very different space, both musically and personally, compared to his raw introduction two years back. Self-titling the LP (Tyron being Slowthai’s birth name) also suggests a more personal and assertive intention behind the record.
The album is divided into two distinct parts, the first offering more direct and hard-hitting tracks, while the second is more introspective and restrained. These two moods will by no means be alien to fans, but the presentation of them in this album format is certainly something new for Slowthai.
The first disc showcases Slowthai’s unruly side. ‘45 SMOKE’ kicks off TYRON with a nondescript banger, as Slowthai does his best Playboi Carti impression towards the end of the track. ‘MAZZA’ with A$AP Rocky has an even more blatant Carti influence. Its ad-libs and the 8-bit-sounding instrumental certainly show this. But it is lacking any of the same conviction or flair; it just ends up sounding obnoxious. Songs like ‘PLAY WITH FIRE’ and ‘DEAD’ prove more successful. For the most part, the production and the way Slowthai flows both lack the colour or originality of his previous songs in this vein.
It is in the second half of the album where listeners get an insight into Slowthai’s mindset, acting as a nice contrast to the rest of the tunes here. ‘i tried’ opens this set of tracks with soulful keys and a lively guitar line, as he raps about the things in life that have got him “in a headlock”. Perhaps the most intimate song of the album, ‘adhd’ details Slowthai’s navigation of his internal struggles amongst this newfound public attention. That is not to say that this second disc is downtrodden. Vibrant instrumentals still give head-bopping groove to tracks like ‘focus’, with production from Kenny Beats; ‘terms’, featuring Dominic Fike and Denzel Curry; and even ‘nhs’.
Using the duality between the two discs of this album to mirror the different sides of Slowthai’s personality certainly is an interesting concept. Yet, a lacklustre first half and some forgettable moments throughout hold TYRON back from being an entirely compelling second album. The record does show growth from an artist still with a lot of potential, but it lacks the quality or consistency to make it a fully enjoyable listen.