Frampton would certainly love to watch the world burn.
“There’s nothing great about Britain,” reads one of Tyron Frampton’s many tattoos. As a rising voice of the disillusioned Gen Z, Frampton’s rapper alter-ego Slowthai digs through grime–not the subgenre of U.K. hip-hop, but the literal stuff. Drug dealers, crooked cops and broken homes liter Frampton’s narratives, but he doesn’t gaze at them like an apathetic killer. He’s not stone cold; he’s boiling with rage. On his EP RUNT, like an even ruder version of fellow British rapper Plan B, Frampton discards the lies of austerity and populism with ease.
“Teacher said ‘what you gonna be when you’re older?’ Drug dealer – what else can I do?” he raps as slasher film stings swing in the background. These are the simple facts of life in the projects. He’s got a sharp eye for detail, tossing out precise descriptions of how tough life is. “Used to share a room with my sister/ Single beds with the telly/ Bend the hanger for a picture,” he spits before remembering days when beans and cheese was his only meal. “Boiler broke on Christmas day/ Ask Santa, ‘Why’s my life this way?’” he bellows. Frampton could see the glamor on television and post-Thatcher Britain telling him it was his fault he was poor. Well, if they’re going to make him the villain, he’s going to enjoy it.
An avowed fan of Alan Moore’s take on The Joker, Frampton would certainly love to watch the world burn. And he’s about as subtle as the clown prince of crime, with the thrashing “GTFOMF” standing for “Get the fuck out my face.” And of course, this will likely be the only record in 2018 with “fuck Santa!” as a chorus.
But after three songs of sheer hard knocks, Slowthai takes down the tempo and drops the anger for sadness. “Call My Own” flips between Frampton desperately trying to keep his love life alive while slowly losing touch with old friends. Over a broken piano sample, Frampton sighs, realizing that has his fame grows the few things he could call his own before rapping are disappearing. On an even darker note, “Disneyland” is a toxic recollection of childhood hijinks. Frampton’s only 23 but already feels decades older. “I miss being open, honest with my siblings/ Too busy squabbling ’bout shit with no meaning/ Man have missed feeling, and man have missed dreaming/ Man have missed sleeping without weed,” he cries. His voice croaks more and more as old, easy happiness slips through his hands.
Slowthai’s previous work revealed a burgeoning rebel. He was a joker, but also discussed toxic masculinity and proclaimed his unfancied hometown of Northampton would never be overtaken by London. But RUNT seems to be the breaking point. “There’s no god above me that can take my pain.” Slowthai is usually smiling in his music videos, but here it’s just a mask. He can barely contain, let alone focus his anger. But it’s ridiculously early in his career. If he does control that rage and properly focus his greatest weapon, Britain will be shaking in its boots.