British rapper Tinie Tempah (real name: Patrick Okogwu) definitely looks the part of a hip-hop superstar. He rocks the dark-shade swagger of a Jay-Z, has the innovative lyrical flow of a Kanye West, but also exudes the nerd chic of a Lupe Fiasco. He’s all these things rolled into one and in his newest album, Disc-Overy (released in the U.S. for the first time), there seems a style for everyone’s taste.
He’s a rapper who is fairly accessible even for those who aren’t avid followers of hip-hop. Tracks like “Written in the Stars” (feat. Eric Turner) or “Pass Out,” with their catchy hooks, bass-busting beats and polished production, are hits with mass appeal. Tinie Tempah’s varied collaborations, ranging from royal favorite Ellie Goulding to Kelly Rowland, are a testament to his eclectic tastes. “Till I’m Gone,” a collaboration with the “Black and Yellow” braggart Wiz Khalifa, is sure to become a dance club classic with its over-amped synth while “Illusion” features a more stripped-down, lyrically complex track. Disc-Overy is all over the place and while Tempah’s experimentation with genre is exciting, it’s also problematic.
Though songs like “Written in the Stars” and “Pass Out” are sure to be hits, the disparity between the two’s styles become emblematic of Disc-Overy‘s split personality. The former is a piano-driven ballad while the latter is an electronic haven. One invokes indie cred with a Massive Attack name-drop, while the other boasts about bitches and champ. It’s a puzzling dichotomy. And although Tempah’s lyrics can often be humorous and surprisingly geeky (“I wish that I could be in Narnia”), his unique voice becomes lost in his collaborations. Disc-Overy, while an impressive introduction, lacks a mature, individual style.
Jessica is the assistant arts and entertainment editor.