This record was a gift I received at Christmas and that first, instantaneous impression was not flattering. Disjointed of-kilt beats droned underneath a monotone Londoner's voice talking the story of when Harry met Becky. Things u-turned quickly and within a couple of tracks the magic shone brightly through this brilliant sound like an epiphany. Unique, authentic and original within the context of what I've heard, Kate Tempest is an English poet, rapper from Brockley, London who has so brilliantly deconstructed the foundations of Hip Hop and rebuilt it poised between spoken word and poetry. Retaining the core elements of beats, rhymes and social commentary its spirit is in the same place yet it cannot help itself but come across as truly different.
Kate delivers her rhymes through a strongly spoken, casual tone accompanied by slightly sung lines for hooks or choruses and impersonating voices for the characters that crop up in her stories. A lot of the lines are rhymed but the casual spoken style lets them drift by as if they are unnecessary as we are locked into to the narrative Kate has us following with series of social stories. They link up through the course of the record, characters drift in and out of the songs before they all converge on the final track. These tales are told with a grit for reality and avoidance of glorification. Observational and blunt, Kate find room to inflect the emotional perspective between the events her characters go through as we follow them on their ark.
Behind her the soundtrack of suburban dystopia drones through moody, dinghy synths that glow like luminous lights through muffled aesthetics. The drums keep pace with unconventional beats that shuffle back and forth, paranoid, between sounds that resemble kicks, snares and cymbals. Off-kilt baselines wobble and groove under the two. It comes together without a big moment, phat groove or memorable melody, playing into a perfect subtlety that lets Kates stories stay in focus as these claustrophobic sounds and tempered beats build a grimy, paranoid atmosphere. The record has been a real experience, unique and original to my ears, defying expectation through a remarkable chemistry between beats and rhymes and a sharp, keen talent for engaging the listener.
Favorite Songs: Theme From Becky, Circles, Happy End