UK songwriter and rapper Slowthai is back with his latest full length LP “TYRON.” This is the second full-length commercial album from the Northampton native, which arrives just a few years after his breakout debut, “Nothing Great About Britain,” which was well-received thanks to its fusion of grime, hardcore hip hop and with some punk aesthetics. Along with Thai’s unique, nasally, elastic and animated delivery, his more aggressive tracks paired with wild shows and social media antics earned him somewhat of a bad boy reputation.
It looks like Slowthai may be trying to find a balance between this image with “TYRON.” This LP is presented in a two-disc format, although rounding off at a swift 35 minutes. While relatively short, this record comes with quite a strong emotional separation between the two batches of tracks. Bouncy aggressive bangers with a trap flare to kick things off at the beginning of the project with a run of despondent diatribes, with names like James Blake, Mount Kimbie and Dominic Fike adding to the emotional nuance part of the album.
Where at times he’s reckless and carefree, the next he’s very emotional struggling with his mental health. On his last record, I felt Slowthai did a good job in making these two sides of himself quite clear, but with his new LP, it is clear that he really wants listeners to understand these two sides of himself, which I did for better or worse. In the process, it feels like he is pitting the two sides of himself against each other, and what side outshines the other depends on personal preference, personality and what has made you a fan of Slowthai’s music in the first place. Whether he’s speaking on his overindulgence of drugs and women over a bassy trap beat, or talking about his struggles with depression and mental health, there isn’t much of a significant difference between the two faces of Slowthai. Overall, the second half of the album is more calm and emotional, but Slowthai still comes with the zany animated flows and delivery.
There are some standouts in the first half of the record, with tracks such as the hard-hitting “MAZZA,” featuring A$AP Rocky, in what seems to be Thai’s attempt at a Playboi Carti song. Slowthai is spitting shrapnel and crazy ad-libs over a bare trap beat and deceptively dusty, weary, wheezing chords; Rocky doesn’t skimp on his guest appearance, giving an impressive performance with clever lyricism and wordplay. Other tracks like “CANCELLED” featuring Skepta were also standout moments for this half of the project, where the subject matter revolves around “cancel culture” and how they cannot be cancelled due to their enigmatic status.
The second half of the album is a calm production, and Slowthai speaks on his struggles with mental health, addiction and relationships. The Northampton rapper clearly wanted to make both sides of himself clear as day. I especially enjoyed the outro track “adhd,” where he speaks on his state of mind, almost going over the edge and needing someone to pull him back in. Slowthai’s outro is a fitting closer to the album in the way that it alludes to him going through these mental struggles that put us on the “TYRON” journey. His anger and depression coalesce and meet at this enraged climax.
Verdict: Overall, this was a strong showing for Slowthai, both creatively and conceptually. This record is more so about the journey than it is about any one track. Though “TYRON”’s introspective side slightly outshines the bangers, the overall journey is compelling.