The first, self-titled track to slowthai’s mesmerising new album Nothing Great About Britain clearly sets the tone for the next half an hour. He clearly doesn’t give a single fuck. Already commenting on the toxic posh and lad cultures in Britain, he is able to talk vividly about his opinions on the matter, claiming that he “ain’t Dizzee, I’m just a boy in a corner,” referencing Dizzee Rascal’s 2003 classic. There’s a lot to take from this line alone, and can be used to explain a few main themes from this album. Northampton’s child feels and sees clarity in his perspective about this country. Broken, divided and utterly repulsive at times, he gives an outsider’s perspective, a previously poor boy from the Midlands and the struggles he faces in today’s society. The raw, punk-like attitude he brings is not only refreshing, but incredibly important considering the state of the country we are in.
The majority of the production is handled by Kwes Darko, who brings a dark, unsettling energy to the album. Tracks like “Dead Leaves,” “Peace Of Mind and “Missing” are dark and heavy and bring an unsettling, nervous feeling that rattles your body with bass and energy. The JD. Reid produced “Inglorious” featuring Skepta is another highlight to the album with its infectious energy and Skepta’s stellar verse. On “Dead Leaves” he basically calls Teresa May a tyrant, and on “Missing” he paints a vivid picture of his own mental state, comparing it to a damaged governmental system that does nothing but torment the minds of its people. That’s my interpretation of it anyway. The JD. Reid-produced “Grow Up” features a stellar verse from Jaykae, who alongside slowthai tell an autobiographical tale of their upbringing. The magnum opus of the record to me doesn’t actually come until the very last track, “Northampton’s Child.” In my opinion, it’s not only the best record he has ever made, but one of the most honest, painful, emotional and uplifting stories I have heard on a track in recent years. Talking about his single mum and having him when she was 16, he goes on to talk about the difficulties she had around her and how it affected her kids. She fell in love with a drug addict and lost her son, slowthai’s young brother. The trauma and her dealing with it made his mother the strongest person in the world to him, celebrating his success with her. A profound and moving end to a deep and impeccable album.
Other highlights include the soulful “Gorgeous,” and “Crack,” which add a mellow and smooth moments to this album. The sombre and angry energies complement each other perfectly, and slowthai’s unapologetic personality shines through. Nothing Great About Britain exceeds all expectations, and slowthai’s future is looking as bright as ever.
Listen to slowthai’s incredible debut album Nothing Great About Britain below via Spotify, and don’t forget to support! Released via Method Records.