Tinchy Stryder Catch 22 Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Stands testament to the versatility and mainstream appeal of the scene.

Anna Nathanson 2009

It’s been a momentous year for Tinchy Stryder, with two number one singles, a tour, numerous personal appearances and now this album making him the best-selling UK male artist of 2009.

Catch 22, his debut album on a major label, is actually Tinchy’s fifth release, with three mix tapes and a debut album proper already under his belt.

The 22-year-old east London MC with roots in the grime scene has taken a lot of flack for allegedly watering down his original sound in order to cross over into the mainstream. “They’re telling us we’re selling out,” he raps on his smash-hit single Never Leave You, and whilst this is an ongoing issue of debate, what is undeniable is that this album definitely has wide appeal.

Tracks such as the presciently titled Number 1, the Olive-sampling You’re Not Alone and the Taio Cruz collaboration Take Me Back are made for the charts and it is no wonder that they have elevated Stryder’s status from underground MC to fully fledged pop star. There are, however, some grimier tracks present, such as Tryna Be Me and We Got Dem, which give the album a bit of variety.

The likes of Frankmusik, Chase & Status, Chipmunk, Sugababe Amelle and Tinchy’s crew Ruff Sqwad contribute to the record, each adding a different facet to the product.

Tracks such as Stryderman and Spotlight are guaranteed to keep dancefloors packed and have you bopping your head on the bus. But it is this catchiness that is a curse as well as a blessing, as some listeners, particularly fans of more traditional styles of UK hip hop and grime, may find the material here somewhat irritating. As a lyricist, Tinchy is considerably weaker than many of his less commercially successful peers, but when it comes to infectious, punchy beats and sing-along choruses, this album wins on all counts.

As for arguing whether Tinchy has sold out, only a few short years ago it was being questioned whether grime could really break through. The popularity of artists from the genre has now answered this question, and Catch 22 stands testament to the versatility and mainstream appeal of the scene.  

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