Published Sep 08, 2019Last May, British rapper Tyron Frampton, aka Slowthai, released his debut album, Nothing Great About Britain. It was a Molotov cocktail hurled straight through a window of Buckingham Palace, a smart-assed polemic against British nationalism, Brexit, classicism and deepening poverty in Britain.
Slowthai's Vancouver debut at Fortune Sound Club on Saturday was explosive, but for its political content, he let the music do the talking.
Ironically, despite his anti-authoritarianism, he was less concerned about talking politics than he was about directing traffic and making sure the audience had a good time. "Open it up," he instructed, calling for mosh pits, not that anyone needed his prompts to get riled up: the crowd-surfing began as soon as he stepped onstage, before he even started his first song, the album's title track. In fact, the first pit broke out naturally and as if by ironic design, during bittersweet, nostalgic ballad "Toaster."
And so it went all night: fans peeled off their shirts, mixing sweat with aerial booze. As did Slowthai, his ridiculously jacked producer Kwes Darko, and Slowthai's mascot/hype man Woioii the Crack Rabbit. When joints flared, Slowthai accepted a bit of legal Canadian hospitality from the audience and puffed away, too.
Fans reciprocated Slowthai's relentless energy. Together, they roared eloquent phrases like "Fuck off!," "You cunt!," and, on "GTFOMF," "Get the fuck out my face!" The last of these phrases devolved into Slowthai wildly yelling "Face!" at the top of his lungs three times. He lost control of his fans during "Doorman," though. He ordered them to open up a circle and follow Woioii as Woioii ran counter-clockwise in the middle. But his fans were too amped up, and the circle instantly collapsed into a normal pit.
The audience became so rabid during "Drug Dealer," Slowthai performed it a second time near the end of his set. He made sure to cool them down afterwards, pouring water into thirsty mouths in the front row.
Slowthai also performed a couple of his collaborations. He and his crew handled Tyler, the Creator's "What's Good," but for "Inglorious," Slowthai pulled a fan onstage to sub in for Skepta. Despite the fan's insistence that he knew Skepta's verse, though, he was clearly nervous and struggled to keep up with Slowthai. Ultimately, the fan made it through the song and, per Slowthai's encouragement, psyched himself up enough to stage-dive back into the crowd.
Slowthai also treated fans to an unreleased track called "Psycho," a collaboration with Denzel Curry, due September 10. As one would expect of a track between the two rappers, "Psycho" was a dramatic track with a twisted, booming beat.
Slowthai delivered relentless and intense grime beats with total punk attitude. This grind risks being too one-note for some audiences, but for everyone else, everything about it was great.