The rapper’s second album 'Demonstration' is full of attitude, but too often slips into crude lyrics and clichéd production
Whether in interviews or on TV, Tinie Tempah seems like a genuinely likeable guy. On his 2010 debut, ‘Disc-Overy’, perhaps aware that he was a little bit too nice to convincingly bust out any thuggish rap moves, he parodied them with lines such as “I got so many clothes I keep some in my aunt’s house”, from ‘Pass Out’. Yes, his lyrics were littered with references to Louis Vuitton and sexual conquests, but all in the spirit of a cheekily suggestive wink. The addictive, dance-influenced beats of ‘Pass Out’ and ‘Miami 2 Ibiza’ made Tinie’s position clear: he was all about being a pop star.
Three years on, ‘Disc-Overy’ has sold over a million copies in the UK and Tinie is most definitely a star, second only to Dizzee Rascal on the UK scene, perhaps even above him following Dizzee’s dismal ‘The Fifth’ album. So perhaps it’s no surprise Tinie’s brimming with confidence on record number two. On the Diplo-produced ‘Trampoline’ featuring 2 Chainz he flows like melting butter over booming bass detonations and tweaking electronics. ‘Children Of The Sun’ contrasts jittery digital fuzz and Tinie’s spiky delivery with an anthemic chorus and a John Martin guest vocal. Meanwhile the sub bass, shuffling beat and soul diva sample on ‘Witch Doctor’ are a clever, off-kilter update of trip-hop. This is an album full of attitude.
That’s also part of the problem though, particularly in the lyrics. “Tryin’ to get fellatio/From girls as fresh as Daisy Lowe”, he raps on ‘Don’t Sell Out, while ‘Mosh Pit’ sees him “Livin’ kind of lavish/Fashion Week in London, Fashion Week in Paris/Every day I’m fucking someone different on my mattress”. All great fun for him, no doubt, but in the past he didn’t trade in this lowest common denominator stuff. It’s not just the lyrics, either. ‘Mosh Pit’ features men shouting “hey” in time to the beat, one of the biggest clichés in the production manual. It sums up the laziness this album slips into too often.
To be clear, the good outweighs the bad here, but Tinie has lost a lot of the charm that, when he turns it on, makes him so appealing. “All I ever wanted to do was be individual”, he raps on ‘Looking Down The Barrel’. Which is ironic, because he used to be refreshingly different. Now, not so much.