Sunday, 16 January 2011

Tinie Tempah: Disc-Overy Review

Going by a stage name that is to correct English what Top Gun was to the masculinity of young Navy aviators, Tinie Tempah is the latest in a succession of rappers that follow what I call the ‘chatshow host’ rule of album producing. That is, in order to disguise the fact you are just another generic artist entering a music scene that is already more overcrowded than Dharavi, you have already ‘established’ artists on guest vocals for the majority of the album’s tracks. Sounds lazy? Well this is the modern music industry after all – essentially an acceptable form of the eugenics movement, in actual quality of the music not mattering as long as the singers sound and look perfect. Regardless, the industry being as shallow as the average guido isn’t Tinie Tempah’s fault so I can’t begrudge him that. So I shall judge him on the quality of his music by reviewing the singles from his debut album Disc-Overy, and despite having only being released about three months prior to time of writing there has been a twenty-three date tour announced and already four singles are available (with a fifth on the way). Christ, Tinie Tempah has already produced more singles than Gene Roddenberry.

As the starving Olympic diver might have said upon seeing a jelly-filled swimming pool; “let’s just dive right in”.

Pass Out – A creatively titled track that is, in the words of Tinie himself, about “getting so out of it that you pass out". And who ever said rap was unoriginal? Now whilst not wishing to cast aspersions on the good man, I don’t think he actually has any idea what his own songs are about. For example only the chorus (listed below) actually fits within the context he mentions (also as a just for fun fact; the second verse of the chorus is sung by Labrinth. Who apparently is a misspelling of an elaborate structure designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus. The first of his many many guests):

Yeah (yeah) we bring the stars out,
We bring the women and the cars and the cards out,
Lets have a toast a celebration get a glass out,
And we can do this until we pass out.

(so) Let it rain,
Let it pour away,
We wont come down,
Until we hit the ground and pass out!

Let’s just pause at this juncture, look at the first two lines of the first verse – notice how he mentions we bring the women and the cars and the cards out? In the world of Tinie Tempah women are in the same party aid category as cars and cards, and puts it across so bluntly that you would think we live in some kind of Mad Max style society where women are little more than commodities for social occasions.

The rest of the verses are just about how he lives a lavish lifestyle. Examples;

I live a very very very wild lifestyle.

I got so many clothes I keeps em in ma aunts house.

20 light bulbs around my table and my dresser
ClC Kompressor, just in case that dont impress her.

Quite why he thinks the fact that he has more clothes than fashion week and keeps them at his aunt’s house is something to gloat about especially when it means he has to go to her house every time he wants to change shirt, is beyond me. He should have said he has so many flowers he keeps them at Chelsea Flower show as it has just as much effect. He claims that his possessions are so great he can impress a metaphorical woman with them, and whilst that may be true in the age of the shallow do you really need to be so materialist Mr. Tempah? Couldn’t you have just said that you have a nice personality and good nature? Also is the product placement actually vital? He was probably hoping if he mentions a BMW CLC Kompressor as a lyric then he would be sent one as a sign of good faith, but that doesn’t work – hence why I don’t mention the Porsche 911 every single paragraph (Though if you guys at Porsche deem it necessary to gift me then e-mail me for my address).

He also apparently likes a good pop culture reference as well, though he fails to grasp exactly how they work; not realizing one cannot simply mention a character or celebrity out of context, it has to fit within the intention. Yet several times throughout the song he includes the names of pop culture icons in scenarios that make less sense than a drunken Scotsman;

Say hello to dexter, say hello to uncle fester
Got them gazing at my necklace and my crazy sun protectors.

Im pissed I never got to fly on a concord,
I bin Southampton but ive never bin to Scunthorpe,
Im fucking crazy with the kicks, call me Jean Claude.

I live a very very very wild lifestyle,
Heidi and Audrina eat your heart out.

Of those above examples only The Hills reference makes even the slightest sense, as at passing it sounds as though it could work but put enough thought power into processing it and it is as flimsy as an anorexic Paper Mario. This song would make more sense if it was about a lonely man downing several six-packs of Carlsberg in front of the television and in his inebriated and delusional state confuses the images he sees on said television screen with his own life, leading him to believe he lives this decadent life of a party animal alongside all the mentioned icons.

In terms of music quality it is incredibly boring, mostly due to the fact that Shortie Tempah is the Ernest Hemingway of the rap world. And when I say it is boring I of course refer to the grandfather recounting stories of his youth at a family gathering post-Christmas lunch variety of boring. This is truly emphasized in the music video which simply features the two artists against a black back drop with simple visual effects flashing on it. Tinie then simply speaks the lyrics slightly faster than usual talking rate whilst a generic four-on-the-floor dubstep tune that would make even the soundtrack to the videogame 1942 sound as technical as a Steve Vai solo, plays in the background. This is not just a problem relating solely to this song; it is Smaul Tempah’s actual style which is copy and pasted onto all of his songs. A metaphor to help you visual this would be to be picture Tinie with his own cooking show and telling the viewer a recipe as music plays in the foreground to create ambience, only the recipe is how to be a pretentious douche.

Frisky- While ‘Pass Out’ showed us how Tinie Tempah likes to party (with product placement and cultural references) his second single Frisky gives an insight to what type of women he enjoys and how he goes about getting them. Again this is his official meaning behind the song but again I can provide evidence proving it has an alternative and sinister meaning. The song opens with the following intro/chorus;

I just can't stop the feeling, don't seem to go away.
So if I hurt your feelings, don't blame it all on me.
I just can't stop the feeling (nothing else to say),
And now they have to stay.
So if I hurt your feelings (don't take it the wrong way),
It's just because I'm..

Oh la la la la, la la la la la
Oh la la la la, la la la frisky
Oh la la la la, la la la la la
Oh la la la la, la la la frisky

Clearly Tinie Tempah is a man who is literally controlled by his genitalia, a throwback to that laughably unscientific stereotype that all men have actual brains in their Private Johnson. It is through TT that the adage transcends into truth, and one must stop and ask how does this man survive his daily routine if his trouser Leptotyphlops carlae is responsible for all of the thoughts he processes? The only conceivable way that he hasn’t yet been hospitalized for being embroiled in sweaty coitus with a garbage disposal is if his penis were the Ray Mears of penes. But seriously, the entire human race is preprogrammed to want to reproduce yet he acts of though he was built in a Japanese Artificial Intelligence manufacturing company owned by Playboy by being in a constant state of frisson. This of course lends credence to my theory that the song is about a Patrick Bateman style serial killer controlled by his insatiable urges forcing him to stalk the night looking for women to strike down with his blade. Several lines clearly display this;

I think I found a winner, with no ring around her finger.

I wanna pick her up, and put her down.
She gon be waking up my neighbors if I bring her round.

Girl you better keep your distance I just wanna have eh eh
I'm on a mission I don't even wanna kiss her
Honey I won't even miss ya when I'm done with ya eh eh

I would put her in positions like the mission from my staircase to
My kitchen leave her twitchin, twitchin, twitchin, twitchin....

Yeah, I'm suspicious, she looks delicious.

Study those above passages intently, and tell me if you were a five point FBI profiler would you include all of the above on a list of signs to watch out for in a potential mass murderer. From the first line which implies that he chooses unmarried victims as they as less likely to be missed to the last which sounds like the sort of thing Hannibal Lector would inscribe on a Valentine’s card, all of these chosen lyrics give the song a disturbing edge – even more so than the fact that Tinie Tempah wrote those to have sexual connotations and thought it didn’t sound about as disgustingly sleazy as every word that exits the typical night club owner’s vocal tract.

Because after all that is what this song is - an encyclopedia for the perverted. Tinee Tempah wants all the girls to know that when he is around they shall become apetalous. The truly sad thing is that having this sort of mindset is likely to gain you your own claque. Anyone who firmly believes that “If I told her I’m a boxer, would she let me down her knickers…” is an appropriate sentiment towards dating has evidently quantum leaped into Peter Stringfellow.

Written in the Stars/ Invincible – The third and arguably best single from his debut album is Written in the Stars, if only because it is the only one that can’t be recreated by rewriting the Karma Sutra on an Anheuser–Busch InBev company report. It chronicles Stumpy Tempah’s pre-frame life and unsurprisingly is highly vainglorious. It is essentially an exercise in self-indulgence comparable to releasing a new autobiography every time you change your partner – yes your ears are burning Katie Price. The lyrics concern the impecuniosity of his early life, how he was dragooned by local bullies and how he yearned for success – writing lyrics in his battered book. I hate to break it to Lilliputian Tempah but there is innately nothing special about his plight that makes his success more deserving – he comes across as possessing an attitude that because he was once Tiny Tim that he deserves to live a life that will inevitably end with him faced down dead in a crack cocaine filled swimming pool. However he fails to note that millions of people live their lives on the breadline, the same people who want an escape before they have a stress induced stroke transforming them into the Frank Nelson type character from the Simpsons. In fact you could say that I am the white middle class version of Pygmy Tempah writing this very blog in order to escape the harsh reality of the fact once Ireland’s economy completely collapses it will likely create a chain of events that will culminate with me dying on a beach á la The Road long after society falls.

The song opens as per usual for a Diminutive Tempah song- with his guest belting out the chorus line with so much passion you would be forgiven for thinking the song is a musical about Fred West and the vocalist is playing a victim pleading for his life. The guest vocalist this time around is Eric Turner, a man you won’t have heard of from a band you won’t have heard of, who looks like a more downtrodden Eric Cantona. Eric opens the song with the intro and chorus before we return to the formula, i.e. an uninspired and repetitive beat playing in the background while Tinie does his thing as hip hop’s William Shatner. Typically of his writing style there are many lines that don’t make sense at all, as though he had the line penned for awhile and thought he might as well force it in randomly like trying to fit two wrong pieces of a jigsaw together and producing a result that is seriously incorrect.

Man I’m like a young gun fully black Barrack
I cried tear drops over the massive attack
I only make hits like I work with a racket and bat

Look at my jacket and hat
So damn berserk
So down to earth
I’m bringing gravity back

“I only make hits like I work with a racket and bat” is a cringe worthy pun that would even a Christmas cracker roll its metaphorical eyes. The entirety of the second set is clearly just phoning it in. “Look at my Jacket and hat” does not work in or out of context; he is not wearing a hat in the video so all I can conclude is that he realizes how boring he actually is and therefore decides to stimulate brain activity in his listeners to stop them becoming officially comatose. “I’m bringing gravity back” cue a discriminatory joke about how rappers will steal anything but Tinie Tempah isn’t a very good rapper so he has to return what he stole to disburden his conscience.

Even when Tinie isn’t trying to be a Family Guy joke writer and focuses on the emotional core of the song, i.e. how squalor his life was, it still doesn’t have the impact it was probably meant to – since it reads as though written using Baby’s First Slum Dog Millionaire Writing Kit.

Look Im just a writer from the ghetto like Malory blackman
But have you ever been so hungry that it keeps you awake
Trying to turn a tenner to a hundred grand

He overplays the poor hand fate dealt him- yes poverty is still an issue in Britain but due to our wonderful Marxist welfare system at least half the population can afford to feed themselves and buy iPhones whilst the working saps can barely afford rent; in fact so twisted is British society that the song would have been more harrowing if it followed the perspective of a nine to five retail worker. It amounts to nothing more than a man trying to appear deserving of his fame so that he has a legitimate reason for abusing those that don’t enjoy his music or haters as he would call it. Yet if he were so thankful of escaping this destitute fate then why is he filling his aunt’s house with clothes instead of food, money and salvation from the hell he crawled from? If what he claims is true then essentially he appreciates his break about as much as Broadway’s thespians would appreciate a mentally handicapped man who could only utter the word “Macbeth” repeatedly.

Proving Tinie isn’t averse to beating a dead horse until the corpse resembles a character from The Hills Have Eyes; his album Disc-Overy released its forth single Invincible which once again chronicles his humble origins, except for this time he claims it was the power of love that helped him to succeed – and amazing this is the hallmark brand of love and not the Tinie Tempah kind which he displayed in his song Frisky. Basically it is a ballad featuring Kelly Rowland and sounds like every single RnB ballad in the third millennium, i.e. shrill female vocals, brass horns and pianos. The lyrics are packed with schmaltz and sentiment, the type you wouldn’t expect from Tinie Tempah, the type that leads you to suspect he has been replaced by romantic body snatchers:

“As bad as the odds were looking, Push yeah we kept on pushing,
And every time I nearly hit the ground, you were my cushion,
There's evidence that proves, That you were heaven sent
'Cos when I needed resucin', You were there at my defence”

The video features Tinie walking down the street with scenes from his life projected onto the sides of buildings forcing us to put up with more of his immoderate indulgence of his personal desires. In hindsight he should have simply decided to release an audio biography instead of an album.

All in all, Disc-Overy is not a good album. The songs are uninspired and clichéd, the music repetitive and boring, and it relies too heavily on guest vocalists. No doubt it sold enough copies for him to create a second album and bore us to death with yet more songs from his ‘humble origins’. I’ve only reviewed the singles of the album but in my defense they make up a large percentage of the track listing and demonstrate the album’s range or lack thereof as heard one song and you’ve pretty much heard them all. To put it in one of my pithy metaphors, Disc-Overy is a Sisyphean punishment like being the cleaner in a hotel which specializes in Sialorrhea sufferers