Tuesday, 2 March 2010
Ty: Special King of Fool (BBE Records)
Interestingly Ty describes the record as his story. And an interesting tale it is – that of artist who after ten years, three critically acclaimed albums (Awkward 2001, Upwards 2003, Closer 2006), collaborations with the likes of Tony Allen, De La Soul, Damon Albarn and Estelle, a Mercury nomination amongst other accolades, and a worldwide army of fans, has always followed his heart it seems.
But it feels like there’s too much heart and not enough of what makes Ty great here. His burly, thunderous rapping drawl has always contained plenty of humour in the past with the frontman always bouncing live and with an irrepressible amount of charisma. But somehow his passion has been channelled in the wrong direction here, passing on the vocal duties to a posse of impressionless, sometimes irritating guests. Many of them try so hard to sound soulful that they just appear vacuous and you are left craving more of the main man’s sturdy vocal. The beats are also a little pedestrian, rarely stepping up a gear and providing the genuine hooks usually so evident from the London-based Tony Allen associate.
There are a few positive signs though. The appearance of Sway and Roses Gabor does genuinely complement the ebb and flow of Heart is Breaking and there is a span of several songs, including the relaxed rhythm of Me and the clubby feel of I Get Up, where Ty is at his swashbuckling best saying: “where I’m from I’d probably make twice the money/if my skin was a different colour ain’t that funny?” before nonsensical lyrics and nursery rhyme rip-offs. But it’s too little, too late and it feels like a waste opportunity for one of Britain’s biggest hip-hop talents to burst back out of an overlong hiatus.