Release Date: Nov 4, 2013
Record label: Parlophone
The sophomore album from U.K. rapper Tinie Tempah took the long road to market, having originally been planned as a 2011 release but not rearing its head until 2013. The rapper's reputation had nothing to with it, as there were plenty of hungry fans awaiting his return, but, for once, the final product suggests that the delay had everything to do with "getting it right," and it's a feeling the listener gets on a first encounter.
When a label announces that one of its major autumn pop releases contains "no obviously constructed singles", it usually signals that the artist has lost their mojo. As applied to Tinie Tempah's second album, it's more a ruse to gently lower expectations. Indisputably, there are some natural singles here, such as the irresistible steel-drums-and-rap confection Trampoline, and the rock-hop duel A Heart Can Save the World, which has Tinie rapping fluent rings around Emeli Sandé's histrionic chorus.
When Tinie Tempah first came to mainstream attention in 2010, he rapped that he had "so many clothes, I keep 'em all in my aunt's house". As his profile has increased – the Londoner has three UK number ones and two Brit awards to his name – so have his boasts. Now, we are told on his high-reaching second album, he owns a mansion and drops into Claridge's for tea.
Whether in interviews or on TV, Tinie Tempah seems like a genuinely likeable guy. On his 2010 debut, ‘Disc-Overy’, perhaps aware that he was a little bit too nice to convincingly bust out any thuggish rap moves, he parodied them with lines such as “I got so many clothes I keep some in my aunt’s house”, from ‘Pass Out’. Yes, his lyrics were littered with references to Louis Vuitton and sexual conquests, but all in the spirit of a cheekily suggestive wink.
When Tinie Tempah (born Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu) first carted out his neo-wideboy schtick, it was gloriously tongue-in-cheek and refreshing. Here was a hip-hop/grime peddler who clearly didn’t take himself seriously and, rather than opting for VIP lounges and diamonds, he was content to whip out puns and infect the UK dance scene with some of the biggest honest-to-god bangers in recent memory. Pass Out was, and still is, more choon than many can handle.