‘Tyron’ is a two-headed dragon of emotions, hard-hitting rap

The cover art for slowthai's album 'TYRON' (2021) is pictured. via wikipedia

Slowthai (Tyron Frampton) has made a name for himself over the past two years, becoming one of the most popular grime artists in the U.K. He has rapped alongside Denzel Curry, Aminé, Brockhampton and Tyler, the Creator, among many others. He has also worked with various producers, such as Mura Masa, Kenny Beats and Disclosure. His debut album “Nothing Great About Britain” (2019) was well-received by critics and was nominated for a Mercury Prize. So, the release of “Tyron” (2021) was on every fan’s radar, and Slowthai has once again delivered an excellent piece of work. A two-part album, Frampton’s sophomore record is chock-full of life-spilling details and streams of consciousness over a wonderful array of instrumentals.

The first half of “Tyron” rarely gives you time to breathe. Listeners could figure that out before even listening to the album, as the entire first half of the tracklist is stylized in all capital letters, while the second half is stylized in all lowercase letters. To start, “45 Smoke” is the explosive result of Frampton and producer Kwes Darko’s collaboration. These two have collaborated as far back as Slowthai’s 2017 single “Murder,” one of the first singles in Frampton’s discography. On “45 Smoke,” the noisy and bass-booming beat is relentless as Frampton comes in with his signature full-fledged yelling delivery. The line “Money to me like s— for a fly/ So I stay getting P ‘cause the world is mine” serves as a great example of his typical flaunting. 

Then there’s “Mazza” featuring ASAP Rocky, and it’s an absolute banger. The rappers manage to reference Sonic the Hedgehog, Soulja Boy and the Popeye cartoons within their three-minute window. But nothing matches the meaning of the term “mazza” better than the beat. In an interview with Apple Music, Frampton explains that “Mazza is ‘mazzalean,’ which is my own word … It’s just a mad thing … like how everything comes and it’s so quick, and it’s a rush.” The next two cuts, “Vex” and “Wot,” are also excellent, with “Vex” covering Frampton’s thoughts on social media and “Wot” recalling the energy he felt while meeting with New York rapper Pop Smoke the night before he tragically passed away just over a year ago. Tracks six and seven, “Dead” and “Play With Fire,” are eerie songs but still have punchy drum patterns like their preceding instrumentals. With this interesting way to conclude the first half of the album, it’s admirable to see how specifically Frampton wanted to construct this project.

The first track of the second half has Tyler, the Creator’s “Igor” (2019) vibes, and that’s nothing to complain about. The chorus and keyboard-assisted “I Tried” is an excellent starter for this calmer second half, as Frampton contemplates his past and the decisions he’s made. “Focus” is another low-key track provided by the unique pairing of Mount Kimbie and Kenny Beats. Singer Dominic Fike joins Frampton and Denzel Curry on “Terms,” a dark track both instrumentally and lyrically, with lines like “Let it off the leash, better run for the trees/ Blood on the leaves, teeth through your jeans” showing the occasionally visceral nature of Frampton’s lyricism. 

The two best features on the album come in the second part of the LP, the first of which is up-and-coming singer Deb Never on “Push.” The song gives the energy of a bright but cloudy day, with Frampton and Never’s vocals having incredible chemistry. The second is English singer and producer James Blake on the song “Feel Away,” which also features Mount Kimbie. The song was the lead single for “Tyron,” and it’s incredibly beautiful in the context of the record. Blake’s vocals and production contributions are as dreamy as they’ve always been, which isn’t a surprise considering his other work

The final song, “Adhd,” is an unbelievable ending. It’s easily the most emotionally vulnerable song on the record with a somber beat to match Frampton’s crushing lyrics. The song’s final verse gets incredibly angry, with Frampton’s screams serving as backup vocals, and then ending with, as he describes it, “a kiss — just to sweeten it all up.”


Summary

Slowthai's second studio album proves that the young UK rapper has talent, artistry and strong emotions to provide.

4.5 stars
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