Review: Slowthai – UGLY

Liam Eunson gives his thoughts on the latest release from grime superstar Slowthai

Northampton’s most controversial music artist, Slowthai, is back with his third studio album UGLY. Making his return to the world of grime, Slowthai, is back and looking to redirect focus towards his music after a 2-year break, which saw him going back to his roots with a chain of small £1 pub gigs. Following a series of public incidents including a fake decapitated Boris Johnson and an ugly on-stage interaction with Katherine Ryan at the 2020 NME Awards, the rapper is hoping this new project will see people talking about the music, rather than the person.

UGLY has all the same energy and signature sound as his other work, but with a clearer sense of character development. UGLY is a perfect title for the album with the music being an insight into the messy parts of human perfections and imperfections, acting as a window into Slowthai’s mind.

(Photo from Rolling Stone)

Alongside clear personal development there has been a clear switch in style between his last album TYRON and this LP. This new project has allowed Slowthai to be much more creative, adding a twist of different genres in with his classic aggressive hip-hop style.

The inevitable move towards other genres has manifested in UGLY, with tracks such as Yum taking inspiration from electronic music, the popular Feel Good leaning towards punk rock with guitars and voice techniques, and the final track 25% Club allowing us to see a slower, laid-back side of the artist. Throughout this transition he still offers throwbacks to his older work, with the song Selfish drawing comparisons to Doorman, one of the tracks that first drew the spotlight towards him.

Slowthai has always included dark themes in his music, with projects in the past reflecting the less glamourous sides of life and society, always pushing the boundaries through his signature sound and, controversially at times, being himself. His first studio album, released in 2019, pushed boundaries and pressed on timely issues within the UK, tackling topics like Brexit, class divisions and depression.

(Photo from NME)

These themes aren’t all the album has to offer however, with Slowthai using his new lane of musical creativity to create the soon-to-be fan favourite Feel Good, an upbeat classic radiating positive energy, almost a polar opposite from songs further down the track list.

Slowthai’s switch from a grime hip-hop rapper to now a well-developed multi-genre artist has pushed this new album to the top of his discography, and despite only being out since the 3rd of March, it could arguably be his most accomplished project. UGLY is an album of the highest quality, and it will be very interesting to see how Slowthai continues to develop as an artist. If he continues in the same vein, the future is very bright.


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