Tinie Tempah: Youth (Warner)

 |   |  1 min read

Girls Like (w Zara Larsson)
Tinie Tempah: Youth (Warner)

To hear London-based, award-winning grime master Tinie Tempah tell it, after his stunning debut Disc-Overy and then the lesser follow-up Demonstration he struggled to reconnect with the source of his initial inspiration.

So he says he went right back to hip-hop/synth-pop and dubbed up style . . . and yet for this outing four years on from Demonstration he also hooks in Jake Bugg, Guy Sebastian, Tinashe, Wizkid and many others.

The album title suggests he is going back to a more wide-eyed and, if not more innocent time then at least one where he was open to ideas. And he stakes out the ground with the opening title track – “last year was my practice year . . . keep my doors wide open this year” – and Not For the Radio (with MNEK) where he announces this needs to be “the realest shit I ever wrote” and says this is his love letter to London, the city which raised him.

You sense he knows this is time to show up and be present because since Disc-Overy the music scene has picked up even more pace.

But on a busy album – 17 songs in an hour which slew from spaced out samples and aggressive rap through neo-soul on Chasing Files with Nea to the folksy Find Me with Bugg – you sometimes wonder where Tempah has gone, other than repeating the refrain that here he is, back and saying he felt the pressure, and deploying his archetypal spaced-out grime (Something Special which is an oddball highpoint as he again reminds you who is and was).

With Latin elements (Mamacita with Wizkid), a big ballad (So Close with Sebastian and Bugzy Malone) and new name on the US block Jess Glynne on Not Letting Go, these are too often choruses in search of a better context and Tempah's autobiographical approach gets tedious over the haul.

Yep, you won awards and you are back and . . . 

That said, with 14 producers credited, this is certainly a tour de force of styles, aural intrusions, left-field sounds around the pop structures and sometimes memorable lines (“There's no blood on the towel, so why did you throw it in?” on So Close) which pulls into the race with confidence.

But it's a run which sometimes hobbles more than it sprints with his former audacity despite its braggadocio.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Chris Stapleton: From a Room, Vol 1 (Mercury)

Chris Stapleton: From a Room, Vol 1 (Mercury)

Because we essayed this superb songwriter and gruff-voiced singer on the back of his debut album Traveller last year we won't revisit that ground . . . only to say here is a guy whose music has... > Read more

Thrashing Marlin: Donkey Deep (Braille)

Thrashing Marlin: Donkey Deep (Braille)

Four albums in a 15 year career seems a leisurely pace but David Donaldson and Steve Roche – the core of Wellington's Thrashing Marlin – are busy on other projects, as Donaldson... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WOMAD TARANAKI CONSIDERED (2015): Stuffing yourself at the musical buffet

WOMAD TARANAKI CONSIDERED (2015): Stuffing yourself at the musical buffet

Driving in to New Plymouth at lunchtime on Friday under beautiful Taranaki skies, I scanned the channels and caught someone saying that this year's Womad – due to start about five hours... > Read more

Jean Michel Jarre: Oxygene (1977)

Jean Michel Jarre: Oxygene (1977)

Sometimes in history there comes that rare conjunction of the artist, the time and the art. In the case of Jean Michel Jarre it seemed they were all out of alignment. He could not have... > Read more