A nuanced, contradictory, and complex experience...

When Slowthai’s debut album dropped, he was an act with the world at his feet. A mercury nomination and work with Gorillaz and Tyler, The Creator swiftly followed, before a controversial appearance at the 2020 NME Awards threatened to derail it all. On second album ‘TYRON’, Slowthai references this rollercoaster ride (most notably on the Skepta featuring ‘Cancelled’), but also looks inward. The resulting album is one of two separate, but equally impressive, halves.

Side One is the Slowthai you’ve come to expect. Fast, hard-hitting tracks in his inimitable flow are broken up by high profile features from Skepta and A$AP Rocky. The lyrics pull back from the socially-conscious territory of debut ‘Nothing Great About Britain’, focusing more on Slowthai’s personal experiences and the struggle of dealing with himself. The hyperactive braggadocio is still there on the surface, but the lyrics reflect an artist who’s far less sure of himself than he might seem. Side Two acts more as a reflection of the nervous energy which fuels the first collection of tracks.

Songs like ‘I Tried’ dive deep into Slowthai’s psyche, touching on the childhood aspirations and anxieties which pushed him onto the path he’s currently on. ‘Terms’ (featuring Dominic Fike & Denzel Curry) is a more general lament which focuses on the judgement and wilful misunderstanding that comes with fame, while lead single ‘Feel Away’ is a moving tribute to a failed relationship. None of this plays to the caricature of Slowthai which a lot of people have come to expect, but the sense is that’s exactly the point.

The easy response to the turbulent journey Slowthai has taken would be to pay a PR agency to draft an apology, upload it to social media and move on. With ‘TYRON’, Slowthai has chosen the harder path of recognising his faults, learning to accept them and trying to grow from the experience. It’s a multi-faceted and mature second album from an artist that a lot of people wrongly assumed could only work in one narrow lane.

9/10

Words: Jake Hawkes

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