After an extra week of waiting, the second studio album Tyron from “Northampton’s Child” is finally here for us to pick a part and over-analyse for our own self-gratification.
Slowthai has come through with a shorter, snappier album than we are used to in the current over saturated digital environment, in which every artist seems to be looking for an excuse for an extra spin on Spotify by adding in a few extra filler tracks. Instead, Tyron has a run time of only 35 minutes.
The album is clearly Slowthai’s audition tape for an American audience as he tries to close the gap that stretches across the Atlantic. There is an abundance of American features from A$AP Rocky to Dominic Fike. The subsequent question arises, is Slowthai compromising some of his unapologetically bashful British elements which have made him so popular in not-so-great Britain to achieve his goal?
The album has been split into two parts. The first is full of bangers that I’m sure we will eventually get the opportunity to hear in their natural habitat of a loud, dark, claustrophobic room filled with sweat, spirits and a few too many people. The albums opener, 45 Smoke is a perfect example of Slowthai’s dark, sinister, punk attitude sprawled across a track. With lines such as “Drinking Foster’s, anabolic rage amongst us, spliff, no blunt here to bust you and your mums” Slowthai clearly isn’t abandoning the stereotypes of the modern Brit quite yet.
The following tracks, Cancelled and Mazza were the two most recent singles, released in the lead up to the album. Cancelled is a giant middle finger to cancel culture, which Slowthai himself nearly fell victim to during the 2020 NME awards, after an altercation with comedian Katherine Ryan when Slowthai was (ironically) accepting the award for “Hero of the Year”.
Slowthai received backlash from the press resulting in him issuing an apology to Ryan. The track itself isn’t a standout but does its job, besides it’s always nice to hear Skepta who features on the track bragging about his diplomatic immunity and stacks of awards.
The track, Mazza, with a guest appearance from A$AP ROCKY, is our first big sign of the direction this album is heading in. The track is fairly vanilla, (by Slowthai’s standards) leaving something to be desired.
This being said, the guest spot can be treated as yet another example that British hip-hop artists are continuing to be treated with more respect and recognition for their talents by American artists. This is a pattern emerging with ever more presence in recent years as artists such as Dave, Skepta and Giggs, continue to build notoriety through appearing on tracks with the likes of Drake.
Vex, Wot and Dead very much follow the same vein with erratic energy, punchy production and an all or nothing attitude. The hooks on Vex and Dead are infectious and grimy.
The first half of the album comes to a close with Play With Fire, a slower track offering a refreshing and more introspective insight. The track is used perfectly to transition into the second half which is more melodic as Slowthai looks inward on himself.
The opening tracks are sombre in nature. In Focus Slowthai conveys abrutally honest and compelling view of himself, the difficulties he has faced in missing his family and friends who are incarcerated. He is trying to take his mind away from these issues and focus on anything to avoid feeling such anguish.
I’m sure that many people were excited at the thought of another Denzel Curry and Slowthai tune when the track list was released. Considering the artists only other collaboration was so strong on their joint track Psycho. But on Terms we get a track so polar opposite to what was anticipated I can’t not leave this track without feelings of disappointment. The track itself is generally a nice listen but when the talent of Curry is available it seems wasted not to give him a blank canvas to write a blistering sinister verse.
The track, NHS, is one of the strongest on the album, constantly asking the listener questions, forcing us to create a rational and understanding of the metaphors throughout the track. “A life without circumstance? Boxing without another stance? Country with no coat of arms?”
The album closes how it opens, with a strong final track. ADHD continues to show Slowthai’s extreme self-awareness and ability to look past face value and deep into the attributes that make him who he is today. The track exposes his isolation, with the closing phone call whereby he opens up about missing his loved ones.
Overall, the second studio album from Slowthai is well rounded and a great transition from his previous album, Nothing Great About Britain. The Americanisation which may leave some fans displeased, can also be seen in the sharpened production, feature list and the roll out of the album. A roll out which even saw the “Brexit bandit” appear on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
The endeavour to conquer American makes sense as Slowthai attempts to follow the trends set by legendary artists such as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones in making sure there is always an infestation of British talent state side.
Tyron is out now via Method Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.