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Tinchy Stryder ft. Jodie Connor - 'In My System'

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Fraser McAlpine | 11:33 UK time, Thursday, 5 August 2010

Tinchy Stryder

There's a thing in music called a pedal point, which - put simply - is when a note drones on for a very long time, while the rest of the music changes around it. It's usually a bass note, allowing the chords above it to shift about, sometimes dissonant, sometimes resolved. Or to put it into visual terms, it's a bit like nailing a cloud to the sky on a windy day, it can still flex and wane, but only around that one fixed point.

In this song, breaking with centuries of musical tradition, Tinchy Stryder takes the role of a human pedal point. What he has to say is said simply, and repetitively, usually in sentences that end with a rhyme for the word "that", but it's all delivered over an astonishingly varied musical landscape. Everything changes around him - within certain parameters, it doesn't suddenly go METAL, for example - and yet he remains constant.

Same hoarse tone of voice, similar words, one thing to say, saying it over and over. And over. Again.

(Here's the video. Looks like it was a nice holiday.)

OK, so there's the keyboard refrain too, that's pretty constant. Although it does drop out from time to time. But everything else seems to be thrown in and yanked out, seemingly at random. And brilliantly, it sounds like the music has been put together so as to sound completely oblivious to whatever Tinchy chooses to add to it, especially towards the end when all hell is breaking loose and he's STILL droning on and on. Even Jodie Connor, his singing co-star, ends up delivering the chorus as if he isn't even in the room.

This is clearly amazing. Seeing as his is the name on the record, you would not expect him to be the least interesting thing happening on it. And it's not as if he isn't trying. It's more like the music is constantly trying to barge to the front of the stage and wave to its mum.

The best bit is the beginning of the second verse, when the bass starts throbbing like an enormous electric jelly on a vibrating football pitch. I'd be happy if that lasted for the entire three minutes, but before you can say "WHOAH!" we're off somewhere else, into a breakdown, then a build-up, then back to the chorus. Bewildering, but great.

Whoever programmed the drums clearly has a bit of an ADHD thing going on, because they change more than any other element: sometimes banging four-to-the-floor, sometimes building up to a crescendo, sometimes a lone bongo, sometimes a quantised version of a dropped drum machine in a box of marbles. It's showing off, pure and simple, and raises an interesting question: they're not letting REAL drummers program beats now, are they?

(Look, this is what REAL drummers are like, in their own heads if nothing else.)

So, a three-star Tinchy song, awarded a little extra because he's got a backing tape with diva tendencies. Don't you just LOVE pop music?

Four starsDownload: Out now

BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

Mind Of Grime says: "Tinchy Stryder is without doubt one of grime's biggest commercial successes."

Newsy Chick's World says: "This song has me skanking whenever it comes up on the ipod."

Nothing Matters says: "Best thing he's released since... ever."



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