slowthai: UGLY album review – frenetic third from the vexed British artist


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“People have told me I wasn’t good enough to do this.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What his recent project shows, is the true contrasting argument to this very statement. A compartmentalisation of agony and ecstasy, Tyron Frampton (coined as slowthai for his slow, slurred speech) captures an artful self-revelation and a complete purity to blind self-righteousness on unravelling UGLY.

An abstract artist beyond measure, slowthai borders the line between the abrasive derelicts of grime rap, and the aggrieved (London) calling era of punk, as a quintessentially troubled British artist in a disparity of youth. Bent on from the second, TYRON – which resulted in his first No.1 album – comes more twists in his third, UGLY.

A subversive misfit stuck between a rock and a hard place, UGLY – a fitting acronym of u gotta love yourself – is a feeding-frenzy of self-revelation into the world of slowthai. A topsy-turvy world of highs and lows. While emblazoned Feel Good leads the trumpets into battle, the sub-electrics of Slaves-enthused Selfish, leads the fray as to why we never learn: “explain, please why you feel this way towards the world / my good sir? / People suck a dick / To climb a pyramid / It makes me sick / But they’re just thinking about themselves / The rich get rich.”

Even start-up of loose-screwYum is a testament to Tyron’s “own wars in his mind,” as the blurry hype-sensitivity lurches with an angsty splurging until he hits his own destruction button, “more coke /more weed / more E’s / More trips / Naughty / More sex / Less stress / Head yes..” Meanwhile, the inner hive-mind of Jamie T is put to the foreground , as the indie court-jester draws resemblance in Sooner. Of course, with alternative music not hitting any boundaries or borders, Never Again is a deeply emotive spoken-rap about love, lust and heartbreak. A bittersweet memento lodged between a rifling on the album, reflecting another creative edge to the cognitive rapper, as we’re thrown into devil-on-my-shoulder interlude Fuck It Puppet and HAPPY, an interjection “thinking with my dick / my head is split / It’s so hard / For both sides to commit,” as he explores the ever-troubling anecdote of mental health.

The rent is due and you’re overspent. The world is ugly.

With the assistance of Irish counterparts Fontaines D.C, self-titled UGLY is a sombre social commentary to the decay of meaning – a feeling often understood and represented throughout the 12-track list. A feeling that he has edged and edged closer to throughout his record trials. Meanwhile, veering the edge, Tourniquet is Tyron at his most explosive, most expressive – what’s left of it all? This time around, no one sees him as a stoney-idled character. This time, it’s all real.

Through-and-through, UGLY is a zesty-zeitgest of resistance to changing times and paints the Northampton rapper at its realest; a zoomed-in focal self-portrait of all the scars to see – just like the UGLY album artwork itself. Amongst it’s rockabilly macabre tippled, it’s safe to say that “T-dog” Tyron (I don’t think anyone actually calls him that) is still inflamed from his first introduction with 2019’s Nothing Great About Britain and… there are no sure signs of burning out.

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