slowthai’s ‘TYRON’ is half angry, half earnest

by Elias Karikas

slowthai’s ‘TYRON’ is half angry, half earnest



Method / AWGE / Interscope · February 12, 2021

slowthai’s ‘TYRON’ is half angry, half earnest

It would be an understatement to say that slowthai had a fast 2019. The Northampton-born UK artist crashed onto the scene with the release of his album Nothing Great About Britain, which garnered domestic and international recognition alike. He received a Mercury Music Prize nomination for best new artist, a nod on NME’s top 100 list, features on projects by Gorillaz, Tyler the Creator, and Denzel Curry, and an opening gig for Brockhampton’s US tour. His 2020, on the other hand, was filled with ups and downs. slowthai found himself the subject of controversy for actions he made while receiving his Hero of the Year Award from NME. Clearly inebriated, slowthai made advances at NME Awards host Katherine Ryan, creating an uncomfortable environment for everyone involved, and shortly thereafter jumped into the crowd to try and fight an agitator.

slowthai’s 2020 actions define TYRON. slowthai embraces the role of sympathetic villain with songs such as “CANCELLED” and “VEX,” where he targets social media and cancel culture, voicing his frustrations after receiving many calls to be cancelled after his NME antics. But slowthai’s critical attitude doesn’t just point outward – it frequently points inward, too, describing ruts of depression, drug abuse, and self-hate. A self-proclaimed product of his environment, slowthai describes the norms of aggression and a fight-first-think-later mentality that affected him while growing up in poverty in Northampton.

The album is separated into two halves, each of which reflect a side of slowthai’s inner self. The first half is hard-hitting and filled with anger and frustration, played out over grimy beats. slowthai’s focus shifts constantly on this half, pointing anger at critics, himself, greed and everything in between. Thematically, the beat selection is a bit redundant, with sound variation hidden under drum kicks and bass.

The second half offers a deeper look into slowthai’s emotions, peeling back the layer of anger to find vulnerability and earnestness. A large part of this disc is self-improvement – slowthai speaks about his ‘sickness’ and struggles to become better. The second half finds itself in the crossroads of darkness and optimism, where slowthai acknowledges his troubles but also acknowledges the work that will foster his improvement. The second half also features the song “feel away,” dedicated as a tribute to slowthai’s late brother Michael John, which is a standout moment on the album.

Although slowthai’s TYRON is a slight regression from his 2019 release Nothing Great About Britain, it still has plenty of high moments, plenty to say, and much of the same vulnerability that makes slowthai so special.