Photo by Crowns & Owls

British rapper Slowthai is the U.K. variant you want

An interview ahead of this week’s release of his second album TYRON.

Slowthai is making the best of a bad situation.

He sits in a room surrounded by shelves filled with Nike shoeboxes. “I’m in a war bunker!” he jokes. In reality, he’s holed up in his residence in the town of Northampton, England, knocking out press for his forthcoming second studio album TYRON (his first name).

Putting together an album was a strange situation for the rapper, to say the least. “It’s definitely weird, man,” he explains. “But considering making music tends to be isolating anyways, it’s like, I’m kind of used to being stuck inside.”

Slowthai was fortunate enough to put together much of the project before pandemic restrictions came into place, securing collaborations with the likes of James Blake, Skepta and A$AP Rocky.

This will be the first album he releases via AWGE, Rocky’s label. “Rocky had come to a show in L.A. I was like, ‘How the fuck is he here?’ He was in the green room and came over and was like, ‘Yo bro, your album’s hard.’ I was high as shit! I was so high, I couldn’t believe it.”

TYRON is carefully crafted into two halves, its track list split between all caps and all lower case titles. “The first half is all in your face, that’s the Slowthai that everybody knows. Or the one they want, who they think I am continuously. The second half, it’s more me, stripped back, not that obnoxious, aggressive, loud motherfucker. I’m more chilled.”

It took a long time for the rapper to get to this chill state of mind. Slowthai began the pandemic on a vacation in Thailand and returned to find himself in a very dark place. 

“I was going through what I was going through. I was tripping off of the shrooms, and that enhances all that, your insecurities and negative things. I was thinking, ‘Fuck everybody.’ At the beginning, I was in a lower place.”

Thankfully, his creative process and some self-reflection helped him lift himself from a near-suicidal state. “I think through doing this project, it helped me get things out that I would have kept to myself. It’s definitely pulled me out of that dark fucking spot and opened my eyes, reinstalled the lust for life because at one point, I was thinking, ‘Fuck all this shit.’ I just wanted it to be done.”

The rapper reveals that Skepta was among one of the most helpful people in getting him the help he needed. “Man just grabbed me by the collar of my shirt and pulled me up…He was like, ‘Yo bro, this is your defining moment.’ And then we made ‘CANCELLED’, then and there. It was fun making that song. It was bouncing back and forth, not too much writing or sitting down. Just visualizing it and then just recording it — easy.” ■

This feature originally appeared in the Feb. 2021 issue of Cult MTL. For more about Slowthai, please visit his website.

For more music coverage, please visit the Music section.