Slowthai is a challenging artist. It is so difficult for someone who isn’t a dedicated fan to listen and enjoy his music, simply for what it is. His actions at the NME awards drew plenty of criticism for the young rapper from Northampton, some arguing he had been cancelled. Over a year on from that debacle he has released his second album TYRON, which unfortunately is not only much weaker than his first, but fails to represent someone who has learnt from his mistakes, or intends to be a just and respectable role model who can be a pioneer for social change through his music.
Just like much of his music, big bass lines are common throughout. In the first track 45 smoke his boring lyrics match a boring backing track. I felt after listening to this first song that I had a feeling of where this album was headed…not off to the best start.
Second track, Cancelled features the first of a whole array of disappointing and desperate features. Here he collaborates with Skepta and the track is an arrogant, ignorant and disrespectful take on the attempts to “cancel” Slowthai. I shall try not to spend too long breaking this song down as the album is fourteen tracks long and no one song makes or breaks an album. After Slowthai assaulted a fan and sexually assaulted Katherine Ryan he came out on twitter and apologised. This took me by surprise and actually excited me as I thought it would provide him with a chance to one day, rap about this experience and what he might have learnt and taken from it. Cancelled presents Slowthai and Skepta as victims in an industry dominated still by men and where sexual assault is still seen as an incredibly unimportant issue. You couldn’t write it, ;”Girls in the crowd got their hands on me”. The lyrics are just so out of touch with reality and with the situation as a whole. Slowthai seems to present the idea here that he is making a comeback with this album, when the truth is no one really actually cancelled him.
Mazza is the second collaboration, with rapper ASAP Rocky. Both Skepta and ASAP are way past their best and if you needed any proof these two tracks provide explicit evidence. Slowthai received such applause and praise for discussing serious and essential issues in his first album and it really feels and sounds like his rapping has simply regressed.
I am not going to waste my or your time breaking down anymore of the first side of the record. It is filled with more dull americanised instrumentals alongside arrogant and self centered lyrics. It seems so long ago now that Slowthai was the next best thing to come out of British rap, how times have changed.
n.h.s is the best song or the album. And after some pretty scathing words I think this song is brilliant. An incredible take on the stance of so many towards the NHS. It is a beautiful presentation of what the album should have been like. Focusing on things Slowthai feels strongly about which have a subsequent effect in so many of our lives. All of us have found a sudden burst of appreciation for the NHS during this pandemic and so this song will strike a chord with many. It is an essential political topic all of us should be discussing, just like racism, sexism….not cancel culture.
He sums it up wonderfully; “What’s life if we all get along?, No people tryna do you wrong?, What’s knickers without frilly thongs? Good music without silly songs?” The trouble is there are no silly songs in this album, it is essentially all serious but without the backbone, lyrics or humility to have any genuine impact.
Final track adhd is another strong track nestled towards the back end of a weak album. Slowthai tackles so many of the challenges to his mental health success has brought him and makes me wonder if only this more humble and honest approach rather than a cocky ignorant one would have served him better, not just in his music but his behavior.
I don’t think Slowthai should be cancelled, I don’t think anyone should be cancelled. We should try and form a society and industry in which people face the consequences for their actions but are also able to learn from mistakes. It brings me such sadness that so many will listen and support this album without taking a minute to think through the content of lyrics, especially in the first side. Slowthai’s talent is unquestionable despite my criticisms of this record, talent is wonderful but growth, development and positive values are what propels rappers to achieve success which can help make a difference to the world we live in.