Back in 2019, slowthai performed his Mercury Prize performance while holding the severed head of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a move that worked to invigorate his supporters and further surround the young rapper in controversy. A stunt like that perfectly sums up the tone of slowthai’s debut, Nothing Great About Britain – confrontational, dynamic, messy – and what made that album so candidly refreshing.
After building his own hype over the last few years, Tyron Frampton has attempted a slight pivot for his quasi-self-titled TYRON. Under his moniker slowthai, he has found an outlet for his anger, resentment and political angst, but not until now has Frampton felt this comfortable presenting himself. As if to prove his point, his most concerted and revealing effort, “feel away” was released as the first single. Featuring contributions from James Blake & Mount Kimbie, it chronicles the death of Frampton’s brother from muscular dystrophy while he was still a baby. The track is a startling change in subject matter and in slowthai’s approach to his personal life, but also to melodicism in general.
A similar shift comes on “Push”, a melancholy lament with an uncharacteristic feature from Deb Never who contributes a sweet lullaby to a bookend the track. Moments like this are strung through the second half of the record, and mark the more adventurous and more rewarding section of the project, a beautiful and distinct step forward for Frampton.
The erratic and polarizing slowthai is still here though. The first half of the record, complete with some of the catchiest work he’s made so far, also stands in stark contrast to the warmer vulnerability on side two. TYRON works to build up the same braggadocio of Nothing Great, exuding the swagger and breadth of a rapper at his pinnacle before tearing it all down on side two. Both sides work in tandem to present the duality of slowthai and Frampton, two different artists presiding over one of the more versatile hip-hop releases of late.