slowthai - 'UGLY'

9/10

When Northampton-based rapper slowthai released his breakthrough debut album 'Nothing Great About Britain' in 2019, he was greeted as a scrappy young troubadour who had a clear sense of vision when it came to his sound. Largely influenced by the London sound of UK rap, he had this distinctive voice that spoke more to the outer peripheries of under appreciated British youth. Following that up with his sophomore outing 'Tyron' saw more of that raw and intense persona he was looking to project, but now he returns with his third studio album 'UGLY', a record that sees him reach the zenith of his aesthetic to date.

While his sound has usually dabbled in a punk-esque arena since he first emerged, 'UGLY' sees him lean harder into that genre, giving this new collection a blistering pace from start to finish. But what really hits hard on his newest release is just how passionate he comes across on each track. With every cut, he seems to get more and more riled up but never loses focus on what the overall sound of this new full-length should be. Recruiting the likes of Fontaines DC, Shygirl and many more to breathe life into his latest material, he seems far more confident and at ease with his place in the scene right now.

There has always been this undercurrent of musical genius running beneath slowthai's appeal, and 'UGLY' feels like the closest thing to true visionary he has ever produced. Brimming with fresh and innovative ideas that perfectly reflect his own electrifying presence, he has easily knocked out his best work to date here.

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