Release Date: May 17, 2011
Record label: EMI Music Distribution
The PlayStation-bleepy crossbreed of hip-hop and house known as grime has become England's new chart-pop. On his debut, 22-year-old MC-producer Tinie Tempah dreams of even wider glory: "Disturbing London, baby, we about to branch out," he rhymes like a psyched-up robot over neon-lit synths on the irresistible "Pass Out. " Tinie is a smart and sly hook maestro, mixing the flashy and the mundane with lyrics like "I've got so many clothes I keep some in my aunt's house.
Bursting onto the scene seemingly from nowhere, 21-year-old MC Tinie Tempah has rapidly overtaken Dizzee Rascal as the U. K. 's biggest urban star, scoring two huge-selling number ones and two further Top Five singles in just six months.
If [a]Professor Green[/a] has been unofficially crowned the UK’s [a]Eminem[/a], then surely [b]Tinie[/b] is our [b]Kanye[/b]. The same traits are there – slick, funny and culturally specific rhymes (“[i]I gone pop and I won’t stop Pringles[/i]” – ‘[b]Simply Unstoppable[/b]’). The ego is definitely there – “[i]I’m an extra-terrestrial/Came up out the fucking dirt like a vegetable[/i]”.
Does rock and pop music have a more disheartening sound to offer than that of the British rapper bemoaning the pressures of fame? On the one hand, it seems unfair to single them out: listening to any kind of pop star bemoan the pressures of fame is no picnic, but there's something about the disparity between the level of success your average British rapper attains and the sheer volume of fuss they make about it that seems impossibly galling. Which brings us to Let Go, the final track on the debut album by Plumstead-born Patrick Chukwuem Okogwu Jr, better known as Tinie Tempah. It's not the most disingenuous British rap song bemoaning the pressures of fame.
While 22-year-old British act Patrick Okogwu has found considerable success in his home country, the budding artist better known as Tinie Tempah is well aware of the difficulties making it big stateside. Looking to make a convincing splash across the pond, Tempah offers up a hearty sample of talent and charisma with the aptly-titled debut album Disc-Overy. Right from the beginning it’s evident that Tempah wants to break away from the normal sounds and styles found on the radio, with “Simply Unforgettable” chiseling an effective blend of dub step, grime and Hip Hop right into our eardrums.
A rapper’s aesthetic is often dictated by his or her ability. For example, it’s usually lyrical weaklings who surround themselves with the kind of gimmicky stylings Tinie Tempah employs on his debut album, Disc-Overy, which is overflowing with rote dance beats and crummy guest appearances. But the British MC is far better than these choices would suggest; he’s playful and dexterous, managing to cut a respectable figure inside this otherwise dreary effort.
Tinie Tempah is a double platinum-certified hip-hop artist. But you may not have heard much about the man. His album Disc-Overy received the staggered release treatment: It dropped in the UK on October 4, 2010, and in the rest of Europe on November 22nd of that same year, but it wasn’t until May 17th of this year that his album became available in the US market.
Tinie Tempah’s current lightersup pop hit ”Written in the Stars” suggests the U.K. import is just another B.o.B-style crossover king. But his Stateside bow is way more schizophrenic, loaded with future-funk R&B (”Illusion”), club-friendly house (”Miami 2 Ibiza”), and skittering street sweepers (”Obsession”). That sometimes makes it hard to keep up, but on Disc-Overy, at least he has the decency to reject inscrutable British slang in favor of references to the cast of The Hills.
Breadth-wise, the London rapper’s debut is super-confident. Natalie Shaw 2010 Disc-Overy certainly isn’t short on variation or big-name guests, but the drive for kudos ends up pushing Tinie Tempah into the sidelines. It’s a super-confident debut breadth-wise, but a misfire in terms of depth – it stretches too far and ends up light on substance and personality.