Thoughtful British hip-hop with a smart heart.
Slowthai’s breakthrough hit “Jiggle” was made for a bit of fun. Almost free-range in its softly-edged flow, the track is built over a mash of jarring, repetitive chords and muses on musical independence, styles of rap, and self-reliance. The rapper comes from the unheralded Midlands town of Northampton and his ability immediately shines through. Suddenly he had buzz, and a fledgling career.
The journey, he says, is very much about finding himself. It nicely blends staple hip-hop content with his own life: there’s thoughts on drugs and women, but his music also probes popular TV series Bake Off, explores comics and mashes a few stereotypes along the way.
Slowthai’s style is not an attempt to spit angrily down a mic, but a more thoughtful brand of soul-baring rap, almost muddled through in mellow, complex takes that take several listens to unwind. They’re captivating; like trying to unravel a cryptic crossword while nodding happily along to the beat.
In single “Polaroid”, he tells those who gave up on him to “take a picture” of his success. In “Ladies” he takes a broader view of his life story, against a backdrop of echoing dancefloor hollers and disregarded expectations.
Slowthai doesn’t like press. He doesn’t feel the need to explain himself, and would rather strip to his underwear in front of an audience and bear his soul in witty, rapid-fire prose. “I want to speak to everyone, but I only want to really speak to the people that feel it in their heart,” he explains. “Like it actually does something for them. And everything I’m doing, I’m learning more about myself.”