ALBUM REVIEW: slowthai, TYRON
Updated: Nov 20, 2021
slowthai busted into the rap zeitgeist with fiery grime-adjacent tracks like “Toaster” and “T N Biscuits” on his breakout debut Nothing Great About Britain. From there, he collaborated with Tyler, the Creator and BROCKHAMPTON, got briefly cancelled at the Brit Awards and got nominated for a Grammy. 2021 is the year for slowthai to shine, and his new album TYRON definitely gets more personal. Tracks like “focus” and “feel away” see him at his most vulnerable, while “CANCELLED” and “WOT” see him stabbing from behind a mask like Jason Voorhees. The track-listing split between PISSED TRACKS and soft tracks, and I find myself more partial toward the PISSED ones.
The production on the first seven tracks ranges from shrooms trip to PCP nightmare, trading in his unique grime beats for ones that are more typical but also more direct. The idiosyncratic production of his first album was sometimes so disorienting or downright annoying, the production on TYRON is much more consistent. Sometimes, this results in bland tracks like “terms” and “push” that are so devoid of personality that they could be made by anyone. I think this album will be more successful than his debut, especially with a co-sign from AWGE (who distributed Die Lit and Whole Lotta Red), and for the best tracks’ sake it deserve all the praise it gets.
On TYRON, slowthai is looking to synthesize the quirks of his stage personality with the experiences of his real life. There is a noticeable number of tracks, like “feel away” which is dedicated to his late brother, that toss aside the bollocks in favor of heart. This is double edged sword, as I said before the blunting of his sword makes some of these tracks go less deep than they should. The worst moments on this album, like “push” with Deb Never, don’t even really feel like slowthai tracks. The instrumental on this song is so limp, completely devoid of any elements that would compliment thai’s Wiley voice.
I like the duality of the album, but I just go to his music to turn up and listen to him flow like a maniac. “CANCELLED” is such a thrill, I love its horror-referencing music video and how the way he goes head-to-head with Skepta. Moments like this are so much more enjoyable than the quieter moments oftentimes. A few of the personal tracks go over just as well as the louder tracks, I really think slowthai is successful at conveying himself as more than just a loud Brit. Overall, I think he is almost entirely successful at displaying both parts of himself, but he misses the mark a little too often for this album to be entirely essential listening (Editor's Note: It just barely squeezed by for me now into "essential listening".
Favorite Tracks: “45 SMOKE” to “DEAD”, “focus”, “nhs”, “feel away”, “adhd”