Slowthai addresses cancel culture through album release
February 19, 2021
buzz factor: 3/5
On Feb. 12, Tyron Frampton, known professionally as Slowthai, released his latest album, “TYRON.” In the album, Frampton is both aggressive and introspective as he addresses the toxicity of cancel culture and his battles with insecurity.
“TYRON” is Frampton’s second studio album release since his first album, “Nothing Great About Britain,” was released in 2019. Throughout the album, Frampton takes on a reflective tone as he addresses the toxicity of cancel culture and his battle with depression.
The 26-year-old British rapper released “TYRON” via Method, AWGE and Interscope Records, and his music can be described as a hybrid of grime, hip-hop and gritty punk music.
“TYRON” includes several featured artists such as A$AP Rocky, Dominic Fike, Denzel Curry and Mount Kimbie. The album also features Skepta, a British rapper featured on “Nothing Great About Britain.”
The 14-track album is split equally into two distinct sections: all of the titles in the album’s first half are uppercase, and the titles in the second half are lowercase. This stylistic choice reflects Frampton’s shift from intense, aggressive tracks in the album’s beginning to more mellow, humble tunes in the album’s second half.
Frampton begins “TYRON” with the lively “45 SMOKE,” and he describes growing up around alcoholics, police officers and drug dealers. The track relies heavily on an electronic drum machine and an eerie minor-based melodic riff that fluctuates between upper and lower octaves. In “45 SMOKE,” Frampton portrays himself in a negative light, referencing being stuck in a monotonous routine of mistakes and saying people think he’s “Satan’s son.”
In “CANCELLED,” Frampton partners with Skepta to address the toxicity of cancel culture. After the New Musical Express Awards in 2020, Frampton himself was canceled after making sexual comments to comedian Katherine Ryan, who co-hosted the awards. Frampton was also escorted out of the awards following an altercation with an audience member. He has since apologized for his comments. He released “TYRON” precisely one year after the event. “CANCELLED” is Frampton’s criticism of how cancel culture promotes widespread, mob-like harassment of celebrities.
“VEX” has just the right amount of repetition in its chorus for the track to be catchy without becoming monotonous. Frampton’s lyrics exude irritation as he raps about people’s attempts to anger him and his eventual indifference to those attempts. His lyrics also highlight his lack of desire to pursue serious romantic relationships. The track features a heavy, full-toned bass pattern, a high-pitched synth melody that amps the instrumentals’ resonance, and an electronic percussive beat that anchors itself in a high-pitch triplet rhythm.
Halfway through the album, Frampton undergoes a total attitude change in his lyrics and instrumental composition. The second half of “TYRON” is Frampton’s saving grace because it highlights his ability to shed his defensive exterior and be more vulnerable with his listeners.
In “i tried,” Frampton’s compositional structure is entirely different as the tune’s full-toned instrumental melodies take center stage and the percussive rhythms mellow out, causing the entire attitude of the album to shift into a more pleasing listening experience for the listener. The bass guitar’s leading melody has both the full-bodied resonance of a proper, deep bass tone while still maintaining a certain lightness as the bass melody flows through the song and guides the backup vocals.
Frampton’s lyrics in “nhs” lack the angry, defensive energy that characterized his music throughout the album’s first half. Frampton references the UK’s National Health Service in “nhs” as he explores anxiety, depression and accepting one’s flaws. The tune relies on a piano melody that shifts between chord structures and moving melodies throughout the song, creating an almost calming effect that complements Frampton’s attempts to find the good situations in bad times.
Frampton’s last song, “adhd,” is his most vulnerable track on the album. The tune features a piano melody that is both clumsy and smooth as it stumbles through the rhythm set by the tune’s percussive rhythm – oddly, it fits in with Frampton’s description of his struggles with having ADHD. Once the chorus hits, the piano chords completely lock into place with the tempo set by the percussive beats. Instead of masking his anxieties with aggression, Frampton’s open vulnerability in “adhd” creates an opening for listeners to interact with and relate to his lyrics.
By literally splitting “TYRON” into two segments, Frampton showcases his musicality’s duality and ability to shift from standoff-ish, defensive lyrics into softer, more introspective tunes. However, “TYRON” is not a cohesive album, and it sounds disconnected when you take a listen through the entire album.
While the concept of splitting “TYRON” into two distinct sections is unique, the album itself is still fragmented as Frampton jumps between aggression and softness instead of bridging the two together.