With Nothing Great About Britain, slowthai burst onto the global rap scene, taking a fresh approach to grime, dancing on the line between depression and mania. The “Child From Northampton” paints a binary portrait of his upbringing with “Gorgeous” and “Inglorious” but blurs the lines with “Crack,” a wobbly, screeching tune about trouble in close relationships.
“I love you like a crackhead loves crack,” is the opening line of the song, and slowthai delivers his bars with a cracking, almost desperate voice, creating a brutally honest depiction of his insecurities and dependencies. It’s a heartfelt performance that draws in the listener, realizing that every moment on this album is crucial.
But slowthai switches it up on “Inglorious,” which features a hard-nosed Skepta. The track plays closely to classic elements of grime with a punchline-based delivery and a snapping, bass-heavy beat. It’s one of the hottest instrumentals on the album. Slowthai opens the track with a howling verse, serving the track up to Skepta, who spikes it down with one of the best features of 2019. Skep drops an equally dexterous and aggressive verse, as he jumps on and off beat without losing an ounce of momentum.
“Inglorious,” along with the absolutely head-banging “Doorman,” which I wrote about in our last Fresh Music Friday are both tracks I’d probably choose if I were to rob a bank or start a fight.
“Gorgeous” is an endearing track that spreads self-love in a tough-love environment. Carried along by a chirping piano loop, slowthai raps about childhood in Northampton, England. Once again, his lyrics are almost toxically self-aware, but he makes it seem like it ain’t all bad with an optimistic beat and a smile on his face. His positive attitude is infectious, displayed on his Instagram and Over/Under video.
Slowthai is notably effective in weaving these themes together to create a narrative-driven album, and ties everything together on “Northampton’s Child.” On the concluding track, slowthai tells stories about his upbringing, how he had to move from home to home as his mother was the only constant positive presence in his life through all of his pain.
You’re the strongest person I know
Made us happy even when you felt down
Always other people firstslowthai, “Northampton’s Child”
But I’m thinking for you right now Employing the talent to create a banger like “Doorman” and a song as touching as “Northampton’s Child” represents slowthai as one of the Next Great Talents in the world of hip-hop. Check out Nothing Great About Britain, available everywhere.