slowthai Tyron Interscope
Tyron Kaymone Frampton, better known as slowthai, has never shied away from criticising the politics of the nation he calls home. He even dedicated his debut album, Nothing Great About Britain, to the concept. You’d expect that his second album would see the Northampton native, who once brandished a dummy head Boris Johnson at the Mercurys, would find much to feed his ire in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, Tyron signals a move towards the personal and introspective. He uses the album to confront his past – personal flaws and career-threatening music business controversies alike. On the soul-baring Focus, he raps, “life never precious, and I always had a death wish” before declaring, wearily, “never been the type to care”. Push sees him obliquely address the controversy surrounding his actions at the NME Awards last year: “I’m a wreck on drugs, do stuff I regret, feel embarrassed tomorrow.” It’s these moments of penance that reveal a man ready to (un)learn and grow beyond his sometimes public trials and tribulations.
Sonically, Tyron draws on an expanded palette to convey this more three-dimensional persona. Feel Away, which features James Blake and Mount Kimbie, offers a frank and powerful portrayal of heartbreak underscored by Blake’s spectral vocals. On the other side of the spectrum, Terms sees slowthai’s unmistakable style and cadence given space to soar on a beat crafted by Kenny Beats, JD Reid and Kwest Dominic, matching the rawness of the 808s with his braggadocious delivery, as animated and snarling as any punk hero.
Ultimately, Tyron is a transformative record, which sees slowthai emerge as a rapper who has not only embraced his traumas, but has allowed them to shape his outlook. It’s a confident opening to a brand new chapter, which is, you sense, precisely what he wanted.