slowthai Nothing Great About Britain Method Records
Buoyed by that cheeky, gold-plated grin, boundary-pushing stage antics and his self-appointed title of “Brexit Bandit”, slowthai has quickly established himself as a figurehead for a new chapter of Broken Britain. His debut album, the knowingly-titled Nothing Great About Britain, succinctly captures the mental state of that fractured nation, and the fizzing energy of an exasperated youth.
Britain’s been fucked for quite some time now, of course. What might feel like present day issues when you flick on the news – xenophobia, isolationism, class inequality – have been plaguing the country for decades. But slowthai’s fidgety flow is a perfect match for the incessant pace and headspinning unpredictability that defines the present-day UK, the opening title-track name-checking everything from Buckfast to the Thames, The Prodigy to mild curry. It’s that itchiness which defines the record, an uncomfortable feeling laying heavy on each track. Hammer synths punctuate the Skepta-featuring Inglorious, and the two-toned contrast of Toaster finds Ibiza chillout production providing backing to slowthai’s frosty attitude towards “the feds”. Nothing Great About Britain is perpetually on edge, not unlike the nation’s collective feeling today.
slowthai’s true talent lies in his ability to take those intimate details and apply them to bigger topics, without ever feeling preachy or overtly political. Northampton’s Child, the record’s autobiographical closer, lays out that mantra. Reeling off childhood memories so specific they reportedly made slowthai’s mum cry when she first heard the track, his upbringing presents the rapper as a working class hero for a new era. From calling the Queen a “cunt” before the first track’s even up, to detailing the minutiae of young council estate life, slowthai’s debut album proves him a treasonous treasure – truly one of the country’s last great assets.