A quick one while we’re away…
Mallory O’Donnell: I like that Tinie seems to have deliberately chosen rhymes that emphasize his accent. It’s taken a long time, but UK rap finally seems to be finding some real swagger without losing its native oddness and charm. What would really push this over the top would be to make it even less US-friendly: accentuate the drum & bass elements and drop that tired autotune. As it is, it’s transitional, but I’m sure there’s a really hot track just around the corner…
Chuck Eddy: “I live a very very very wild lifestyle” — yeah, sure you do. (Show, don’t tell.) “[Somebody I never heard of] and [somebody else I never heard of] eat your heart out.” — I’m sure they will! Plus a shoutout to Uncle Fester. Thing is, I’m liking the cluelessness of British rap like this. Feels innocent despite itself — hence endearing, just like the part where his Wiki bio says “he was born to Nigerian parents Rose and Pat on a Monday morning.” And though compromise with snoozy American R&B conventions make it drag some, drum’n’bass (or whatever they’re called now) skitters keep the song kinetic regardless.
Martin Skidmore: I always liked the rough, lo-fi sounds of grime, and kind of miss it amongst the recent trend towards bouncy house sounds for its MCs. Tinie is a bit sing-song in his delivery for my tastes, and I could do without the all-autotuned hook. I like the production much more than the vocal, basically.
Michaelangelo Matos: The rattling snares that nose in every so often are a cute nod to the jungle that the track erupts into in the last 45 seconds or so, and the time-keeping keyboard bass line is nice and fuzzy. I like his robo-flow pretty well, too. I suspect it’s too pleasant to truly love, but it slots into a few sweet spots well enough.
Alex Macpherson: Après Dizzee, le déluge: the mainstream record deals for former grime MCs just keep on coming. But Tinie Tempah, appropriately for a man who made his name on beats as diverse as the “Wifey Riddim” (the first notable riddim by Flukes, now half of Crazy Cousinz) and the blazing, M.I.A.-sampling “I’m Hot”, offers us a very different crossover style, both in terms of beats and persona. Neither as eager to please as Tinchy Stryder and Chipmunk, nor as rowdily laddish as Dizzee, Tinie carries himself with a laconic, effortless swagger. It’s fairly irresistible, especially when he has sparky, quotable lines to back it up: rhyming “armshouse” with “aunt’s house”, Scunthorpe with Jean-Claude, referencing Heidi and Audrina, the punchline of “if your son doesn’t – I bet your daughter knows”. Also irresistible is the beat, which casually mixes dancehall skank, electro synth riff and drum’n’bass break – not to mention cavernous Hoover noises and a killer bassline – to superb effect. “Pass Out” gets better with each listen.
Matt Cibula: Proud to add my name to the phalanx of Singles Jukeboxers who will note that his flow is about 90% bitten from “Roxanne Roxanne.” Also it is an actual song with awesome noises and I like it.