Usually when I receive an album for reviewing, I listen to it bout three times then review it – so I’ve normally posted up my review within 48 hours of receiving the album. This time, for one reason or another, it didn’t happen like that. As such, I’ve had Ty‘s new album Closer for near on 6 weeks and listened to it a whole load of times. Not entirely sure if this will have an effect on how this review pans out, just know that I am far from tired of this brand new UK hip-hop masterpiece.
Closer is actually due out, on Big Dada, 16th October and the first single What You Want / Don’t Watch That (double a-side) was released last week. Ty’s 2003 album Upwards caused a few waves with it’s fresh approach to the UK hip-hop sound, but I’m quite confident Closer will cause a tsunami, read on to understand why…
A nice twelve track offering kicks off with Don’t Watch That (Knickers, Y-Fronts and Jockstraps), a track that is one half of the first single release. I did actually review the single a while back and said something along the lines of “…is a funky old skool kinda tune, but with a typical fresh Ty sound. The lyrics are humorous to the max – the story being that you shouldn’t believe internet rumours about artists.” I stand by those comments. The arrangement of this track is interesting, simple yet sublime, good drum roll and catchy guitar stabs – plus Ty’s spitting is catchy as hell – strong opening track. Everybody is the second track, “everybody wants to be the best in the world, I just really wanna have sex with my girl” – something quite apparent about Ty’s tracks are A) his obvious and excellent flow, and B) this seemingly simple construction that is put together as such that it is both simple and also seriously intricate. This isn’t intricate in the way you’d expect from The Cinematic Orchestra or Sigur Ros, but more so in the execution of solid beats coupled with catchy sounds and clever flowing rhymes.
This Here Music feat. Speech of Arrested Development is the third track and takes the album into a more relaxed atmosphere. Some real nice bass notes and spacey organ samples going on, plus the claps are a nice touch. The chorus is simple yet the combination of the group style singing, backed with the soulful female backing, works very well. This one will get your foot tapping, then *boom* the rhymes switch over to Speech, and he does a fresh job. Ty is fantastic himself, but it was good to hear someone else join him, and Speech more than steps up to the plate on this one. The Idea feat. De La Soul is up next, and it has real bashment undertones. This is another one that wont let you sit still for a moment, most of the album is like that really – The Idea maintains chants throughout and combines Ty with De La Soul, what a combination.
The fifth track is What You Want (Taylormade) feat. Taylor McFerrin, Joy Jones and Jason Yarde, this is the other track from the already released (and reviewed) single, I previously said “This track is in a similar vein to those two classic Ty tracks; Groovement and Wait A Minute – real shimmying rhythm accompanied by brass and intelligent lyrics. The beats were originally beatboxed by Taylor McFerrin (who is in fact the son of Bobby “Don’t Worry Be Happy” McFerrin), Ty and his associate producer Drew then created the tune around the original beatbox.” – fans of Upwards will love this! Closer feat. Maceo is my favourite track on this album at the moment. It’s different to a lot of the tracks on the album as it is not as focused on the fierce beats. The beats are still there, but the emphasis is on melody and partnered with Ty and Maceo it is just class…
Ty – Closer feat. Maceo
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Oh! feat. Bahamadia and Zion I greets us at the second half of the album. I really appreciate the sentiment of this track, the main narrative about genocide and the woes of the world, but musically I feel it is perhaps one of the less appealing tracks on the album. It’s catchy enough with it’s deep and dirty electronic stab samples and neat rhymes, but for me personally, it doesn’t hold too much replay value. Aim For Your Goals feat. Eska is positioned wisely on the album as it feels like an extended interlude of sorts. I love the unique stance on arrangement and sounds, plus Ty’s words are clever, but not quite up there with Closer or Don’t Watch that.
Sweating For Your Salary feat. Wumni and Dele Sosimi has an infectious bassline and rhythm. It follows a different sound set than most the tracks on the album, but keeps some of those killer base beats. Feels like a real tribal ditty, focusing on African style chants. Sophisticated and Coarse feat. Eska is brilliant. Eska works so well to compliment Ty – “these are just everyday folks” – I couldn’t stay still during this one. The high xylophone style keys create a fantastic melody to match the steady but firm beats. The words carry a strong moral and social message, take heed.
Penultimate track is L.O.V.E. (No Matter What) feat. Vula – this is just excellent. Like Closer, this takes a different angle to the majority of tracks, and that is definitely not to say those others aren’t as good, but I’m really feeling this track. The shimmying beats are present, but the backing vocals – “L O V E” – help to maintain the chilled atmosphere amongst the intense beat pattern and rhyme structure, also the female vocal backing is key to the mood. Last up is Hustle (That’s Why We) feat. Rich Medina, currently my second favourite track after Closer. It starts with a steady beat and a narrative by Rich Medina, talking bout things like being prepared and motivated, then 1:40 or so in and Ty drops his first rhyme. This is actually really beautiful. “Hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, that’s why we… hustle” – you really have to hear this for yourself.
This is a very good album. Fans of Upwards will love it for sure, but all fans of hip-hop should give this a go. Ty has clearly matured his sound from Upwards and despite his seemingly unique style, this new album does deliver a diverse array of sounds. The guest appearances are great and Ty’s flow is as good as it’s ever been. I genuinely hope Closer does well for Ty, cos he deserves it. It is clear that a lot of effort has gone into Closer and anyone remotely into hip-hop, that has an open mind, should check this out as a priority.