‘Tyron’ flashes hints of sophistication in Slowthai’s grimy foundation

Photo of Slowthai album "TYRON"
Method Records/Courtesy

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Grade: 3.5/5.0

British rapper Tyron Frampton, better known as Slowthai, has had much to reflect on, despite releasing only his second cathartic album. From his altercations at the NME Awards to the general air of chaos and political spitfire surrounding his music, Slowthai seems to be coming into his own, finding a place of balance amid the fervor. Tyron, released Feb. 12, tries to harness some of what the rapper is going through, exhibiting a softer and more self-reflective duality that he has only just begun to flesh out.

While his stage name may refer to his slow, drawling speech as a child, make no mistake by assuming that his rapping on Tyron is anything short of a harrowing whirlwind. “45 SMOKE” ushers listeners into familiar territory with its deep bass and energetic nature, with Slowthai’s familiar accented delivery permeating the song. But throughout the track — and the rest of the first half of the album — there’s a booming heaviness in the instrumentals that symbolizes what can only be interpreted as Slowthai’s descent into introspective divulgence.

Some songs come off as tired, but not completely uninspired. “CANCELLED” is Slowthai’s version of a self-aware rapper’s hallmark — it’s just a tale that has been told before, and the artist doesn’t add much to the established distaste for cancel culture. Comparatively, his 2020 single “ENEMY” is better both musically and lyrically at addressing the issue.

But then, songs like “DEAD” ground Slowthai again in his own unique unapologetic tirade. Waxing poetic about casting off things that fail to help him better himself, the rapper focuses on establishing his hopefully long-lasting legacy, asserting, “They can take away my flesh, but they’ll never take my mind/ I am dead, I am God, I am here for the end of time.”

The second half of the album, switching from all-caps stylized song titles to all lowercase, also tones down the frustration and beats. “i tried” borders on whimsical, but only in instrumentals, a poignant grapple with Slowthai’s ongoing transformation into his true self. “focus” is similarly reflective, straddling the line between light and heavy while following the theme of self-improvement.

Just as the first half of Tyron grew progressively heavier, each song on the second half feels like a weight lifted off of the rapper. “terms” is more than just the classic cameo track with Dominic Fike and Denzel Curry lending verses. It may have a more commercial sound, but the message highlighting the dehumanization of musicians as they rise to fame is as important as ever to Slowthai’s hero’s journey. “I woke up and came to terms with it,” sings Fike, far from complacency.

The high-energy beats of Tyron, coupled with the revelatory moments built upon throughout the album, make for a pointed yet somewhat tender release. On this album, Slowthai is increasingly cognizant of his foundational moments and mistakes, but he also recognizes that being accepting of himself is necessary, going forward.

The big take-away from Tyron is that Slowthai is on an upward trajectory. The album isn’t quite the best the young rapper could put out, but it’s the best he can do at this moment in time. Tyron has its share of both memorable songs and those that tend to fade into the background. But the emotions Slowthai lays out on the table stay with the listener, allowing them a window into the rapper’s inner workings and tribulations.

For an artist so often focused on his anger and frustrations with the world surrounding him (hence his previous album fittingly titled Nothing Great About Britain), Tyron instead urges forgiveness and improvement. It’s an admirable turn for Slowthai, and if he stays true to his aim to keep growing into a better version of himself, his future releases are ones to look forward to.

Contact Pooja Bale at [email protected]. Tweet her at @callmepbj.