Album Review: Tinchy Stryder – Third Strike (Island)

Our rating:

Grime crossover star delivers a patchy affair

Though he’s bagged Number Ones galore, collaborating with gobby pop-rats [b]N-Dubz[/b] and much-mocked R&B crooner [b]Craig David[/b] has ensured that what vestige of coolness Ghana-born, Brit-based rapper [a]Tinchy Stryder[/a] had has been flushed down his proverbial, bling-encrusted toilet.

But wait – there’s hope yet! Takeover Roc Nation, the UK talent-spotting project Tinchy has embarked on with [a]Jay-Z[/a], at least suggests that ‘[b]Third Strike[/b]’ might find Tinchy dragged from the swamp of dead-eyed chart-dance and catapulted into exclusive yacht parties.

That doesn’t seem to be quite the case on opener ‘[b]Take The World[/b]’. Although it proves Tinchy is Quite A Good Rapper with a breathless, hacking flow, it’s ruined by a sugary-sweet female chorus. The result is like a distant cousin of [a]Tinie Tempah[/a]’s ‘[b]Written In The Stars[/b]’, without being nearly as good. It’s still going to be a chart smash though.

On the plus side, ‘[b]In My System[/b]’ features Tinchy rapping what appears to be the grime equivalent of a Hallmark card: “[i]How did ya grab my soul like that?/No beat, no verse, but I’m hooked like that[/i]” over a backdrop of woozy keyboard and futuristic, gently warping synths. It’s part [b]Human League[/b], part cyber-lullaby. ‘[b]Gangsta?[/b]’ though, finds him boasting, over turgid beats and cyber-synths – about his Twitter feed, “‘[i]fucking with some anthems[/i]”, and “[i]having meetings with the President[/i]”, a line which he bellows at every bloody opportunity.

Tinchy has shown here both what’s good and what’s ruddy awful about this particular strand of British urban music. Occasionally transcendent, mostly obnoxious, and always embarrassing to be caught listening to on the bus, ‘[b]Third Strike[/b]’ is a decidedly hit-and-miss affair.

[b]Katherine Rodgers[/b]