England has presented a lot of great new rappers in recent years. But if there’s one who really stands out, it’s 25-year-old Tyron Frampton aka Slowthai (he used to slur and mumble so his friends would call him Slow Ty. He’s loud and clear now!).
Slowthai’s brand of hip-hop isn’t exactly grime but it is grimy: pungent and abrasive in sound and content. His uproarious, hair-raising take on modern Britain has plenty of signposts (The Streets, The Specials, Dizzee Rascal, Slaves), yet feels blazingly original by dint of his irrepressible personality.
His rap is uncompromising and cutting. His bars are infused with punk pastiche and poetry, possessing an underlying and ever-present charm.
Since its release there has been considerable excitement around his debut album, Nothing Great About Britain (2019).
The album’s vision of England is compelling, potent and profoundly grim: divided, wildly unequal, the far right a fact of daily life rather than a fringe. Oh yeah, he also drops a c-bomb on Queen Elizabeth.
All this feeling is transmitted via thumping instrumentals, from grubby, frantic punk (“Doorman”) to minimal, foreboding strings and sharp beats (“Dead Leaves”) and epitomised on the album cover, which sees him naked in the stocks on a council estate in union flags.
Lately, Slowthai has appeared on songs alongside the likes of Rico Nasty, Gorillaz, Slaves, Denzel Curry, Mura Masa and Flume. Everybody wants a piece of Slowthai, and he not only complements all their sounds and voice – he elevates the songs.
And have you seen any live footage from Slowthai concerts? They are wild and rowdy! Along with DJ, producer and MC Kwes Darko, he performs incendiary takes of his tracks, all delivered with a fast-paced, pristine and fervent flow. He whips his crowds into a jumping, moshing, circle-pit-forming frenzy as basslines shake the ground, beats click like snapping bones and electronics spit and gurgle.
Slowthai may offer a middle finger to crumbling modern Britain but he offers a glimmer of hope through his music. Don’t miss it!