An apple a day keeps slowthai working harder than the devil. After two sublime singles in the form of ‘nhs‘ and A$AP Rocky-assisted ‘MAZZA,’ the Midlands rapper releases ‘TYRON,’ his second full-length EP. The album takes inspiration from the image of the apple; tempting symbolic comparisons to Adam & Eve’s Original Sin, to Newton’s law of gravity, and to Greek Mythology. The album details Ty’s personal experience of what has been a tumultuous past year for us all, shifting away from the heavily political commentary of ‘Nothing Great About Britain’ towards deeper introspection.
A real sense of urgency and an irrepressible voice emanates from the self-titled album, reflective of slowthai’s signature rap style and persona. On ‘TYRON,’ slowthai is deafeningly loud – in the best way imaginable. Few others can manifest quintessential Britishness, and embrace the elements thereof which could be considered problematic, quite like slowthai. His compelling fusion of Grime and British punk is perhaps most evident on tracks like ‘VEX’.
But his appeal is so much broader, more universal than ever before on tracks like the Trap-inspired ‘MAZZA’ and ‘terms,’ featuring Dominic Fike & Denzel Curry. ‘i tried’ presents a refreshing aesthetic rarely seen in slowthai’s music, with punchy lyrics over a beat reminiscent of the alternative ‘jangle’ rock beats of Cosmo Pyke, King Krule and Mac DeMarco.
The album clearly embodies a collective young voice responding heatedly to today’s pop-culture controversies. Ty and Skepta pair up to bash cancel culture on ‘CANCELLED.’ As Skepta asks “How you gonna cancel me?” boasting “Twenty awards on the mantlepiece,” Ty throws a punch in the direction of awards-obsessed culture and the materiality of it all, “Fuck the Oscars… Fuck the Grammys.” The pair voice concern with cancel-culture’s obsession with finding its next victim, and assert that artists might simply be flawed humans.
slowthai is notably vexed on the first half of the album, making loud claims and showcasing his signature energy over body-deep, bassy beats on tracks like ‘DEAD’ and ‘WOT.’ The second half, however, settles into a slower, calmer rhythm. The sonic of ‘push’ in particular, featuring the soft vocals of regular BROCKHAMPTON-collaborator Deb Never, complements and balances Ty’s hard-hitting vocal style. The two-part album feels like a fitting representation of the ‘two-sides to each story’ sentiment, and of the ever-present duality of slowthai’s own character.
Elsewhere, ‘focus’ is a beautiful testament to slowthai’s tireless work rate on a track that summarises his monumental recent success: “I tried to make it out the rubble and I rose like a diamond did.” James Blake & Mount Kimbie collab ‘feel away,’ which chronicles the breakdown of a relationship, was released last year but finds the perfect home on ‘TYRON,’ towing the line between romantic proclamation and self-reflection; “Suddenly not half the man I used to be / But truthfully ain’t half the bitch you coulda been.”
‘adhd’ ends the album as an embodiment of its themes, slowthai’s intimately personal and emotional struggles; “I’m tryna fly but my wings feel broken / An eagle encaged in a closure”, he exclaims, asking “might complexity be the death of me”. The album is a portrait of a rapidly developing young artist as he sounds out feelings of inner personal conflict, struggles with fame, and an astoundingly human expression of the depth & complication of today’s popular performers.