Release Date: May 17, 2019
Record label: N/A
Genre(s): Rap, Alternative Rap, British Rap, Grime
slowthai says he knew the title of his debut before he wrote a note of it. As such, 'Nothing Great About Britain' permeates everything about this fantastic first record from the soon-to-be-star that is Tyron Frampton. "Bottle of bucky in Buckingham Palace", he spits to open the album, and across its length, shots are fired at the monarchy, police and almost every national institution you can think of, all delivered with bags of personality and eloquence, packed with more iconic lines than you could mention.
The release of slowthai's debut album, originally planned to coincide with Britain's exit from the European Union, did not go exactly to plan. A familiar story: lazy management, a PR disaster, and industry pushback prompted a rethink of the release schedule. And since Brexit was delayed, slowthai let the album breathe, too. The 24-year-old rapper born Tyron Frampton used the extra couple months wisely, proving politically savvy in interviews and putting his money where his mouth is: On his recent tour of small-town Britain, tickets sold for 99p, or about $1.30.
In his short career to date, slowthai has been surprisingly misunderstood for a rapper whose lyrics are refreshingly direct. Most notably, when "Drug Dealer" an arresting song about the limited options available to working class young people, was perceived by some as a deliberate attempt to glamourise criminality. Having broken through in 2018 on the back of raucous single "T N Biscuits", the Northampton rapper - real name Tyron Frampton - has developed a reputation as one of the brightest young stars in UK rap.
The Northampton rapper's unique debut album is authentic and honest in all its garish glory, an indication of the sprawling possible paths for his career to grow into 24-year-old Northampton rapper Slowthai is about as hotly tipped as they come: he's featured across your favourite publications, a host of 2019 'Ones To Watch lists and has been shortlisted in the BBC's Sound Of… poll. With mammoth buzz comes mammoth responsibility. Fortunately for Tyron Frampton, armed with his theatrical cadence, menacingly textured grime production and disruptive, political rhymes, Slowthai bounds comfortably into his appointment as prince of the under-protected.
It's hard to ignore slowthai and the Northampton born rapper certainly does not make it easy for you. His recent escapades involved throwing up earth-shattering billboards in London displaying sobering statistics on modern Britain, and charging 99p for his tour. The recent Brexit Bandit tour saw scenes of wildly bouncing around boxing rings, crowd surfing in underwear and leading "Fuck Theresa" chants.
The Britain described by Northampton rapper Slowthai brutally and systematically crushes and demonises the poor, enriches the chumocratic ruling class, and airbrushes its wicked colonial past. Pretty much a fly-on-the-wall documentary, then. "Hand on my heart, I swear I'm proud to be British," the 24-year-old declares on the title track of his defiantly-titled debut, Nothing Great About Britain, a measured yet viciously ribald meditation on the contradictions at the heart of Britishness in 2019.
American rap's grand nihilism never sounds as seductive in an English accent, partly because we don't have the existential threat of their gun culture. British police might sus you, but mostly they won't shoot you. Yet even the New York Times is writing about Slowthai, real name Tyron Kaymone Frampton, despite the Englishman's parochial raps (the last song on this debut is mum encomium Northampton's Child; others namecheck Phil Mitchell, 99 Flakes, glue huffing and the Trainspotting baby).