After his smash-and-grab debut album Nothing Great About Britain, Northampton rapper Slowthai is back with Tyron, a double-sided LP that delves deeper into his psyche and how the past year has affected him.
Unapologetically British, Slowthai (real name Tyron Frampton) combines elements of UK grime, punk and hip-hop with braggadocious lyricism and hard-hitting delivery on the first half of the 14-track project.
Featuring long-time inspiration and UK rap father figure Skepta, Cancelled is the second song on the LP, addressing the previous controversy surrounding Thai’s antics at the 2020 NME Awards in which he got drunk and made a poor attempt at banter with comedian Katherine Ryan, leading to boos from the crowd.
With a dark, trap and grime-inspired beat backing them, Skepta guides the upcoming Northampton native through the song, accompanied by a music video that references classic horror movies, including remixing the “Wassup” phone call scene from Scary Movie to a more British “Wagwan!”
The A-side continues with typical punk-rap bangers such as Mazza featuring ASAP Rocky before being backed up by the archetypal Slowthai style of Vex and Wot. These songs may be short in length but pack a moshpit-inducing punch.
Slowthai spoke to Rolling Stone magazine and the 26-year-old expressed how being from Northampton, the bottom of the Midlands, helped shape his growth.
“People travel to get shoes, and that’s always been the thing we’re known for. It makes people think it’s a bubble here, like this is as far as it goes. They’re up here, we’re down here. It’s a ‘shoe town’ mentality.”
While the first half of the LP contains Thai’s typical style of hyper-energised tunes, we see a real switch in tone when we hit i tried, which immediately switches to a more personal tone for the rapper, and the sampled vocals of “I tried to die, I tried to take my life” create a haunting, sombre atmosphere before a Kanye-style boom-bap instrumental kicks in and Thai unloads his emotions onto us.
This switch signifies a seven-track run to the end of the LP that shows us a side of Tyron Frampton that we have never really heard before. Alongside features from singers Dominic Fike and Deb Never, lyrics like “I woke up and came to terms with it” and deep freestyle verses from Thai give us a window into his battle with alcohol abuse, missing his family while away on tour, and being stuck recording in his mother’s basement during the lockdowns of 2020.
Thai begs forgiveness for the wrongs he has made in his life while also giving his sharp and harsh political views on nhs, taking shots at body image, class divisions and the mistreatment of key workers during the pandemic.
The heartfelt feel away sees Thai talking about his previous experiences in love, with a mention of Mariah Carey leading to singer-songwriter James Blake using lyrics from her song Dreamlover to round off the song and add a deeper layer to the message behind it.
Slowthai finishes on adhd, an exploration of the condition that affects him and has influenced his individual lyrical style that took the UK rap scene by storm with his debut singles T N Biscuits and Ladies.
The softer vocal tone and personal lyrics give us a real sense of Tyron’s vulnerability, as well as a heartfelt phone call to one of his older brother in prison, in which he confesses his love for his family as well as how much he misses his brothers now they are in prison.
After a debut album that seemed to be full of anger and resentment to the hierarchy of British society, Slowthai’s sophomore effort has shown that behind the hard frontman there is a softer sadness inside.
By revealing more of his inner self and showing an extra level of versatility to his music, Slowthai will not only have succeeded on a commercial level with this album, but may have redeemed himself to a fanbase growing across the world.