Rapper Slowthai attracted alarm from a certain sector of the UK recently, holding up a (fake) severed head of Boris Johnson. When it’s satirical tv show Spitting Image it’s satire and Shakespeare is art, but, alas poor Slowthai, a kid from Northampton is outrage.
We’ve had this album for a while and not reviewed it; he’s not speaking to us. However, he’s thoughtful and intelligent, and as with any good Tebbit-style Tory, he’s riding his metaphorical bike trying to better himself.
Slowthai’s real name is Tyron Frampton, Slowthai the name he was given as a kid because he sounded slow; he had/has a speech impediment. More latterly he’s called himself the Brexit Bandit, lampooning the political shambles, and has no respect for authority. Coming from where he comes from, we don’t blame him.
The title track opens and Slowthai suggests he wasn’t part of the crowd: “Had to skip the flats / I ain’t chasin’ the dragon”, while downplaying his talent, “I ain’t Dizzee / I’m just a boy in a corner”. He’s very rude about the queen — he’ll respect her if she respects him — but equally mocking of his peers, with lines such as “Bodge job the builder, ain’t none better” and “Three lions, Real McCoy, you’re EDL, real English boys”. In Northampton’s Child he recalls his early life, “Mixed race baby born … Mum’s 16, family’s poor”, and the album is littered with autobiographic detail.
The general tenor is one of hope, despite the gritty life; he wants to be optimistic about his country. In Dead Leaves he raps about working hard for a living, in contrast to other bands who sing about putting up with drudgery five days a week but escaping for two, as he reflects that he might have sold out shows but his approach is “Carpe diem, don’t just live on the weekend”.
In Inglorious he talks about going on looks (back to his issue of respect with the queen), “You judge me on my appearance … / Don’t know about the tax bracket”, while Skepta, who raps with him, says: “I drive the Wraith like it’s Nascar / I love the look on their faces.”
We won’t lie: a lot of the lyrics make no sense, or sense to us, although maybe 16-year-old city kids get every reference. His delivery is chilled and down in the mix, and the music is relaxed despite the bite in the lyrics.
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