Like Sway's This is My Demo from earlier this year, Ty's Closer confirms the impression that UK hip-hop is at last developing a confident character of its own, informed by, but not beholden to, its American influences. Those influences are anyway more old-school daisy age rap than gangsta, with contributions here from Arrested Development's Speech and De La Soul indicative of the intelligent, concerned attitude taken by Ty himself on tracks such as "Oh!" and "Closer". The latter is an impressive address in which Ty considers the parlous condition of contemporary hip hop: "Rap is trapped, and that's so scary/Just sex, no message, no text," he frets, worrying that intelligence has become uncool, a barrier to success in a bling-obsessed black culture. Ty fights his corner with an engaging blend of articulate wordplay, political suss and gentle humour, ignoring theamoral glamour prevalent in the genre. "I'm really not into that reach-for-the-stars shit," he explains in "This Here Music", "I'd rather speak from the starship/HMS Hardship". It's the harder road to take, but the more righteous.
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