T inie Tempah is a product of the late noughties, when British rap was less concerned with credibility and more with chasing chart success - an era when Skepta released the electro-nightmare that was Rolex Sweep, and Wiley was heading down a road that would eventually see him collaborate with Ed Sheeran. So can Tinie thrive at a time when rap seems to be getting grittier, artier and more inward-looking again? There are moments on Youth - his first album in four years - when the south Londoner mimics the new age of rap convincingly: Something Special is back-to-basics grime; If You Know embraces the groggy R&B-trap of Drake. But it's when he moves more brazenly into pop proper that Tempah really shines.
YOUTH is English MC Tinie Tempah's third major-label full-length, and like his second, 2013's Demonstration, it was several years in the making. The album includes five previously released singles, including career highlight "Not Letting Go" (featuring Jess Glynne), which came out back in June of 2015 and hit number one on the U.K. pop charts. YOUTH is loaded with guest stars and pop hooks, but at the core of it all is the same Tinie Tempah who came up as part of the garage/grime scene and made his name through self-released mixtapes.
I t's easy to forget that the only British male soloist with more number one singles than Tinie is Cliff Richard, and Cliff had 50 years' head start. Youth won't extend Tinie's run, although it's more poppy than 2013's excellent Demonstration. Only the title track really delivers that charming mix of self-lacerating honesty and boastful sass which made him a star.
New Musical Express (NME) - 60 Based on rating 3/5
Tinie Tempah is UK rap's nice guy done good. He's the charmer who grew up on a London estate, cut his teeth on pirate radio and struck gold with 'Pass Out'. His 2010 debut 'Disc-Overy' sold over a million copies. Patrick Okogwu's success has transported him to a new world: one where he can call Prince William a mate, add a personal tailor to his staff and buy a townhouse previously owned by designer Alexander McQueen, complete with a taxidermy zebra in his kitchen.