Album review: Tinie Tempah – Disc-overy (Parlophone)

Our very own rap superstar follows up his Number One single with a masterful, genre-dipping debut

If [a]Professor Green[/a] has been unofficially crowned the UK’s [a]Eminem[/a], then surely Tinie is our Kanye. The same traits are there – slick, funny and culturally specific rhymes (“I gone pop and I won’t stop Pringles” – ‘Simply Unstoppable’). The ego is definitely there – “I’m an extra-terrestrial/Came up out the fucking dirt like a vegetable”. And, above all else, so is the talent. While ‘Disc-Overy’ is a young man’s record – focused on clubbing, drinking, beautiful ladies and general carousing – it’s also an overwhelming statement of intent. If you came here expecting 13 versions of ‘Pass Out’ and ‘Frisky’, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Genre-hopping at the pace of a particle in the Hadron Collider, Tinie leaps from chav-trance (‘Miami 2 Ibiza’) to [a]Taio Cruz[/a] (‘Invincible’) to folktronica (‘Wonderman’, featuring [a]Ellie Goulding[/a]). Although there’s an assorted team of collaborators, never once does it feel like anything apart from Tinie’s record. On the accompanying bumf, he insists: “On every single song you’ll get a line that reveals what life was like for me. I recorded a lot of it after ‘Pass Out’ went to Number One, so that gave me a chance to reflect on life before and after achieving success.” He actually means it too. Sitting comfortably between fondness and ambition, ‘Illusion’ opens with the unsettling line, “My neighbours keep getting murdered, so we sleep with the alarm on” – before moving on to the cheeky, “My mum says I need to put on weight like Kelly Clarkson”.

The record only dips twice. Firstly, on ‘Snaps’, a saccharine paean to old family photos (vom), and secondly on ‘Invincible’, which only features Kelly Rowland warbling happily while Tinie takes care of the rest. The astonishing thing is that on any other record, the two above low points would be stand-out tracks. With Tinie, only the best will do.

Ailbhe Malone