slowthai – RUNT

Since the release of his 2017 EP I WISH I KNEW, Northampton rapper Slowthai has delivered a slew of excellent singles, each accompanied by captivating visuals, some of which ooze horrorcore vibes, enabling him to stand out among his contemporaries. Among these loosie’s was “Drug Dealer” which serves as the unofficial lead single for his follow up project RUNT.

Filmmaking duo, THE REST have played a huge part in allowing Slowthai to realise his artistic vision, directing the majority of his music videos but even without the visuals enhancing it, the music is utterly enthralling. Opening track “Disneyland” sees the 23-year-old keep things incredibly candid over a moody instrumental that sways and staggers, accentuated by the trickling keys of a piano. Slowthai laments pointless quarrels with his siblings and not being able to sleep at night without smoking weed, his voice cracking occasionally to lend the track a raw sincerity.  The rapper talks openly about his pain and how he fears no god can alleviate it, the juxtaposition of the song’s title and its morose tone make for an interesting introduction to an EP by a man that seems anything but serious in most of his interviews.

The aforementioned “Drug Dealer” injects the project with a shot of adrenaline, Slowthai sounding giddy over the skank inducing grime instrumental. The delivery throughout the second verse harkens back to the harsh vocal performance on “R.I.P.” (“Think to myself something’s gotta change, think to myself something’s gotta budge”) and the string section coupled with the cracking snares is sure to  result in some moshing when he plays London’s Alexandra Palace with punk band Slaves in November. In the first verse he describes an exchange in which a teacher asked what he would do when he grew up and he responded “Drug dealer- what else can I do?”. This can be read as hilariously tongue-in-cheek or a recollection of a very bleak self-fulfilling prophecy.

Things quieten down on the next track but the same aggression seep its way onto “GTFOMF”. While J Cole wanted you off of his dick, Slowthai wants you out of his face. He discusses visiting his grandmother as casually as he does his experiences of selling drugs, tea being the unifying factor (“It’s normal to me as sugar and tea, how many sugars you want?”). The chant of “Get the fuck out of my face” is menacing but becomes amusing with the refrain “I’ll punch your uncle up”.

Producer Kwes Darko’s versatility as a beatsmith allows slowthai the luxury of being able to experiment with different styles and moods on RUNT. “Call My Own” is a mellow number with a groove that demands the listener bop their head. It’s the only song with a sung hook and is an ode to those important to the rapper, the first verse being dedicated to his girl while the second honours his bros. Softer moments like this prove that Slowthai has more than one trick up his sleeve.

“Slow Down” brings the EP to a close and much like the opening track, Slowthai is honest and open here. He’s proven himself to be adept at crafting catchy hooks and he reflects on some very real hardships on this final track, chanting “Boiler broke on Christmas day, ask Santa ‘Why’s my life this way?’. Similar to someone like Vince Staples, Slowthai’s is arguably at his best when reflecting and focusing on storytelling. The way in which he details his past paints a vivid image and all this is bolstered by the instrumental that sounds like the score of some dark fantasy. Throughout RUNT Slowthai’s lyrics are regularly diaristic, to the point where it feels almost intrusive to listen but it’s packaged in dynamic production, clever lyricism and vigorous delivery that make it too enjoyable to ignore.

RUNT is an incredibly brief listen, clocking in at a mere 13 minutes. The variation in style showcased across the 5 tracks makes the prospect of a full length Slowthai album more tantalising  than it already was. When the time comes for the MC to switch to the album format, it’s sure to be an exciting listen and anyone that wasn’t already paying attention ought to keep their eyes peeled.

Written by /
Published /
September 9
Category /
Album Review