Slowthai is undoubtedly the best rapper ever to hail from Northampton. Since bursting onto the scene with his EP Jiggle in 2016, the midlands MC has quickly affirmed himself a large and devoted following. His tracks are raw, relatable and arguably harder hitting than anything coming out of the London Grime scene. His sound combines influences of UK Hip Hop, UK Drill, US Trap and the aforementioned, fading phenomenon, of Grime music. Slowthai aka Tyron Frampton is a live wire rapper with a taste for anarchy, something which can be observed in his critically acclaimed live shows. His discography contains a bass heavy, often minimalist or brutalist, sonic pallet with Ty’s distinctive tones waxing lyrical about his unadulterated opinions, experiences and emotions. RUNT, Slowthai’s new release continues this pattern of behaviour, providing immersive backing tracks and lyricism, which portray a distressed and frustrated working class guy in modern Britain.
‘Slow Down (Santa),’ the first track of the new EP, jumps straight in with the gorgeous sound of ice cold synthesized strings, complemented by some distant percussive sounds. Slowthai’s signature slurred lyricism bounces on top of the stripped back beat. The track then builds to more simplistic lyrical mantras, with the support of trap inspired hi hats and distorted 808 bass. A boiler breaking on Christmas day is a relatable and playful topic for a track, and something which feels like vintage Slowthai. A kick in the teeth like that is something so many people can relate to.
‘Drug Dealer’ is a banger. This track feels much darker; repetitive lyricism, hard bass and a stronger grime influence create an eerie and underground energy. Lyrically this track is full of anger and emotion, “Nothing great about fucking Britain” is a particularly resonant. Later in the track an introspective crescendo is reached where the young rapper announces “something’s got to change.”
Anger and aggression continues in the third track ‘GTFOMF.’ A track full of explicit and toxic content built on a bouncy Hip Hop beat. This track shows Ty’s cocky and defensive persona. The next track ‘Disneyland’ sits on a broken-down drum pattern which feels loose and human, a vibe which is hard to recreate with a computer. Lyrically Ty leads you to a dark place describing his problems with depression and struggles growing up in the ever-changing world around him. This provides the perfect counterbalance to ‘GTFOMF.’ As soon as this track starts it’s over, clocking in at only 2.28.
‘Call My Own’ stands out as a much softer song, with a totally different rhythmic structure to the rest on RUNT. Themes of love and ambition suit the Cumbia style beat perfectly, reassuring you that Ty is actually a good guy, and that he probably doesn’t want you to get the fuck out his face all the time.
RUNT teases you with hints of vulnerability, which arrive through expressions of disgust, objections to the state of the country and a need for anything to ‘call my own.’ When decontextualized the tracks work well, though ‘GTFOMF’ and ‘Drug Dealer’ may seem hyper aggressive to some. Overall this is another solid release from the young MC.By Joe Williams