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Ty Special Kind of Fool Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

A mixture of uncompromising rap and populist soulfulness, often playing side-by-side.

Martin Longley 2010

Even with an astute wordsmith such as Ty, there's no escaping the rap conformity dictating that this fourth album must feature endless guest appearances. Every track on this disc's dense rush of rhymes boasts one or more collaborators, as if the build-up of Ty's couplets alone would be too much for any kind of mainstream radio play. His words are definitely not trailing US hip hop culture. As ever, Ty fills his lines with specifically British homeland references, keeping things conversational and often dryly humorous.

Ty has now been on the scene for a decade, and has moved further away from his jazz-rap beginnings. Even so, he can still boast Soweto Kinch, Finn Peters and Corey Mwamba amongst the cast-list. Regular producer Drew Horley drops brutal karate-chop beats at the base of each tune, building upwards with a thickly-layered pile of bass, string and synth loops, crafting a melody-drenched RnB panorama. The repeated trick is to sweeten Ty's rhymes with sung chorus hooks, the vocals often clipped and snipped as if they were instrumental matter. There are jazz, soul and electro trimmings, but the end product couldn't be perceived as being any of these genres in the full sense.

Heart Is Breaking (featuring Sway) might be a touch too saccharine, but Ty's tough gushing of speedy lines acts as roughage. Just because he's frequently imparting a serious message doesn't mean to say that Ty has to stint on the chuckling digs, jokey references or absurdist rhymes. The soul chorus provided by veteran lovers rock singer Carroll Thompson on Something Big fares better, alongside its parping horns and flute-solo conclusion. Phantom of the Opera is suitably melodramatic, with its banging beat and crashing chord spirals, whilst I Get Up (featuring D-Cross) is the most undiluted track, losing none of its catchiness.

By the time we reach the sixth track, Emotions, the backing vocal repeats are becoming relentless, and the entire production often sounds too busy, with no sense of dynamic pace or pausing. It's like a hip hop version of systems music, with heavy stacks of information pulsating without respite. There's the illusion that several laptop browser tabs are open, and simultaneous unrelated tunes are streaming in chattering confusion. The diverse elements don't necessarily lock together. Falling (featuring Sean Escofferey) is the prime example of this multi-sonic morass. This whole album is a curious mixture of uncompromising rap and populist soulfulness, often playing side-by-side.

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