On his debut record Nothing Great About Britain, Northampton rapper Slowthai, channeled the angst of a neglected generation of kids into raucous, punk-informed hip-hop. The album reckoned not only with Slowthai’s own impoverished, working class upbringing, but also with a wider failing of the British government. And though it painted a bleak portrait of middle England, what made it so spellbinding was Slowthai’s astute, comical wit. TYRON is broader and more sonically ambitious than before—a natural fit for its subject matter, which takes a deep dive into Slowthai’s inner life.
The first half of the album is full of the noise and clamor you’d expect from Slowthai. “45 SMOKE” has the same charismatic, unruly appeal of earlier projects, but on Tyron, his attitude is even brasher and more punk. The lyrics are sparse, the song’s focus fixed on the hazy, dystopian noise Slowthai lays atop a bed of pulsing 808s. But in the second half of the album, the mood becomes pensive. On the misty and atmospheric “feel away,” the noise is stripped away, as Slowthai comes to terms with the end of a relationship; guest vocalist James Blake provides the song’s haunting outro: “Dream, come and rescue me/ See me there, see me down/ Take me anywhere, I come to you with love.”
Tyron is full of moments like this, where Slowthai turns his lyrical incisiveness inward. “Same old shit, just another day/ I was in my head, feelin’ dead, feelin’ microwaved/ I was on the strip with the kids playin’ Simon Says/ Tyron jumped the bridge, would you do the same?,” he repeats in the hook for “nhs.” His abrasive, gravelly vocal tone adds weight to the lyrics’s raw emotion. On Nothing Great Slowthai took a lancet to society’s ills, but here, he’s trying to come to terms with who he is. Though he adopts the pose of a sarcastic prankster, on Tyron, Slowthai fearlessly reckons with his own demons. He may not vanquish them completely, but by the album’s end, he emerges with more answers than questions.