The release of slowthai’s sophomore album “TYRON,” showcases a more vulnerable and nuanced version of him with carefully curated tracks placed throughout the album.
In its first half, slowthai finds himself in his usual grimy punk attitude that is reminiscent of his debut album “Nothing Great About Britain.” One of the standout tracks, “CANCELLED,” featuring fellow UK rapper Skepta, has them both exchanging verses over one of the best instrumentals on the album.
The beat effortlessly switches from the usual grit of slowthai tracks to a twinkling synth moment that sounds like a Harry Potter theme music remix – complete with an allusion by slowthai to the book. He raps “she says I do magic like Harry Potter,” before the beat dives back into the same riff.
The track encapsulates slowthai and Skepta’s condemnation for the perpetuation of cancel culture. They boast of their accomplishments they’ve earned despite mainstream media music and outlets lack of radio play.
“How the fuck you gonna cancel me /twenty awards on the mantelpiece /Pyramid stage at the Glastonbury,” raps Skepta.
He emphasizes that he doesn’t need mainstream validation to be successful.
slowthai is also known for his criticisms of Theresa May and British politics and he was outspoken during Brexit. His anarchic overtones are just as evident this track, which is part of what makes his music so fun to listen to.
Then, the second part of the album slows down and features acoustics and laid-back instrumentals, unlike the first part. On these tracks, slowthai opens up about his internal struggles with mental health and the death of his brother, revealing a more introspective side to him rather than his typical fiery persona.
This transition to vulnerability begins at the final verse on side one, in the track “PLAY WITH FIRE,” which features some of my favorite lyrics off the entire album.
“Do what you want to do, not what’s expected of you… don’t let your mattress swallow you, wallowing thinking what you’re gonna do or gotta do,” raps slowthai.
In these lines, slowthai encapsulates the massive pressure that a lot of young people are feeling during a tumultuous time. There’s a constant stress that we need to graduate on time and start working 40 hours a week to make money, when that’s just not realistic or what a lot of people want.
My dad always told me to pursue what I’m passionate about – what makes me happy – and not just something for the money. This is what I thought of when I heard slowthai’s lyrics.
Obviously, it’s easier said than done to pursue what you really are interested in. There are hindrances – time, money and resources – but this song reminded me to not place the burden of knowing exactly what I need to be doing upon myself. Especially now, when I feel burnt out nearing the end of my senior year, trying to do online school and working two jobs, these lyrics resonate when I really needed them.
On the final track, slowthai fuses his bravado and vulnerability together to create a powerful closer that wraps up the album nicely. He speaks of the dismissal he felt when struggling with his ADHD. The song goes through somber, disgruntlement and, finally, sheer moments.
The album concludes with slowthai yelling (it wouldn’t be a slowthai album without it) “I can’t feel myself /My complexity be the death of me.”
The sort of scattered instrumentals and vocals of this track work together in a way that reflects his internal mental health battles.
While these two halves of the album are wildly different in tone and content, they make a cohesive whole, highlighting the multifaceted rapper in an unexpected way. “TYRON,” demonstrates slowthai’s versatility and give him the voice he seemed to be struggling to find. That voice echoes deeply on his album as he peels away layers of slowthai and proves how much he can continue to grow as an artist.
Standout Tracks: CANCELLED, i tried, PLAY WITH FIRE, adhd