Does yoga rhyme with toaster?

The Daily Telegraph - Review - - Film - by Neil McCormick

Youth Tinie Tem­pah PARLOPHONE

On the ti­tle track of his third al­bum, Tinie Tem­pah de­clares: “Ev­ery­thing to me is blasé/ I told the ar­chi­tect to make the whole thing par­quet.” It is an amus­ing rhyming cou­plet made all the more dis­tinc­tive for be­ing such a pe­cu­liar thing for a streetwise rap­per to boast about. The 28-year-old Pa­trick Okogwu marks his re­turn to the pop front line by pro­claim­ing that he has “started do­ing yoga”, which he rhymes with “chauf­feur” and “toaster”, fur­ther af­firm­ing both the quintessen­tially comic English­ness of his vo­cab­u­lary and his un­apolo­get­i­cally mid­dle­class as­pi­ra­tions.

In a genre that tends to pride it­self on its abra­sive edgi­ness, Tem­pah is ar­guably Bri­tain’s most pop­u­lar rap­per. Since crash­ing onto the scene with his de­but smash hit Pass

Out in 2010, he has scored more num­ber one sin­gles than any of his peers (three in his own right and four as fea­tured artist). He may not have the cool cul­tural ca­chet of orig­i­nal Grime star Dizzee Ras­cal and is al­most en­tirely lack­ing the ag­gres­sive at­tack and sonic ad­ven­tur­ous­ness of the new gen­er­a­tion re­ally putting Bri­tish rap on the map (in­clud­ing Skepta, Stor­mzy and Kano). What he does have in abun­dance, though, are essential skills of flow and wit al­lied to an al­most shame­less am­bi­tion to court the main­stream. Tem­pah makes slick, bright state-of-the-dig­i­tal-art pop mu­sic where hooks and grooves are ev­ery bit as im­por­tant (if not more so) than the con­tent.

Youth could serve as a one-stop guide to con­tem­po­rary chart trends. There is sexy r&b ( Text

from Your Ex), sum­mery Latin beats ( Ma­macita), EDM bangers ( Girls Like), a vein of dis­tinctly Drakeish down­tempo sing-song

( If You Know) and a bit of acous­tic strum­ming with Jake Bugg stand­ing in as a poor man’s Ed Sheeran ( Find Me).

Break­ing up the pa­rade of po­ten­tial sin­gles is a more in­trigu­ing strain of moody, stripped-back elec­tro fo­cused on Tem­pah’s de­liv­ery. On bare-knuck­les tracks such as Holy Moly, Some­thing Spe­cial and Shad­ows, he chal­lenges the new gen­er­a­tion to match his suc­cess, al­though I don’t know how in­tim­i­dated his ri­vals will ac­tu­ally be by all this talk of yoga and par­quet floor­ing.

The hook­line for the bullish Not for the Radio prom­ises “the realest s--- I ever wrote” but de­spite Tem­pah’s re­fined lan­guage, his pre­oc­cu­pa­tions re­main dis­ap­point­ingly generic, ex­pos­ing the shal­low­ness of his am­bi­tion. Be­neath his wit­ti­cisms lurk the usual hip-hop ob­ses­sions with clothes, money, girls and sta­tus, pep­pered with ref­er­ences to fast cars and lux­ury la­bels, with mo­ments of in­tro­spec­tion when he ques­tions whether it was all worth it ( be­fore con­clud­ing that it was). Eas­ier to ad­mire than to care deeply about, Youth should con­firm his sta­tus as the go-to rap­per for peo­ple who don’t re­ally like rap mu­sic.

He is the rap­per for peo­ple who don’t re­ally like rap mu­sic

As­pi­ra­tional: Tinie Tem­pah

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