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Ty - Closer

Ty, Closer

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

TY achieved the biggest critical and commercial success of his career following the release of 2003’s Mercury nominated album Upwards.

Yet if that brought him uprecedented attention and acclaim, then its successor Closer looks set to broaden his appeal still further.

For starters, it’s brimming with guest spots by high-profile artists such as De La Soul that already serve to open it up to a wider listener base. But it also combines enough funky beats and witty wordplay to stand up on its own right as one of the best Black Music albums of the year.

What’s more, it kicks things off in style, with former single Don’t Watch That (Knicker, Y Fronts and Jockstraps) serving early notice of Ty’s ability to mix snappy breaks and lazy guitar stabs with some genuinely imaginative wordplay (it drops lines like “I love fat girls dipped in marzipan”).

It’s a funky start that succeeds in putting you into a good mood from the outset.

Everybody, meanwhile, kicks off with the provocative line, “everybody wants to be the best in the world, I just want to have sex with my girl”, before dropping an urban-style synth stab and another fractured beat that shows a harder, more urban style to the artist.

The guest appearances begin on the upbeat This Here Music, which features some nice input from Speech of Arrested Development, while De La Soul combine brilliantly on album highlight The Idea, which effortlessly fuses Ty’s own form of contemporary hip-hop with some smart old-skool nods.

Another highlight is title track Closer, which fully emphasises the sharp hooks, killer basslines and clever wordplay now expected from Ty. What’s more it features a vocal collaboration with Maceo, includes fun, thought-provoking lines such as “for you to have a mind means no success” and “mirror mirror on the wall, who benefits when we are poor” and name-checks everyone from Keyser Soze to Coldplay.

Just occasionally, the album becomes unstuck by its own ambition and drifts into more awkward UK-based urban territory. Hence, as hard-hitting as the socially aware Oh! remains, it’s grinding bassline and beats owe more in common to the likes of Roots Manuva and Akala than Ty at his best.

But the sparkling melodies and vocal dexterity of Sophisticated and Coarse restores the album’s successful vibe in style, before closing track Hustle (That’s Why We) draws things to a close in supremely stylish fashion in the form of a remarkable exposition of Ty’s philosophy.

What’s more, it does so in a way that’s refreshingly free-thinking in contemporary hip-hop terms, emphasising the point that not all music in a genre has to sound the same. You can make social points, collaborate with big names and have some fun without needing to conform to the repetitive sound of much of the mainstream.

Ty’s latest album should – if there’s any justice – bring him that little step Closer to that mainstream success. It’s a great listen.

Track listing:

  1. Don’t Watch That (Knickers Y Fronts And Jockstraps)
  2. Everybody
  3. This Here Music
  4. Idea
  5. What You Want (Taylormade)
  6. Closer
  7. Oh
  8. Aim For Your Goals
  9. Sweating For Your Salary
  10. Sophisticated And Coarse
  11. LOVE
  12. Hustle (That’s Why We)