Album review: Tinie Tempah – Disc-Overy (Parlophone)
Just a week after Tinie Tempah’s fourth single – ‘Written in the Stars’ – was released to the masses, devotees of the self-confessed grime artist can breathe a sigh of relief as his debut album, ‘Disc-Overy’, finally hits the shelves of record stores nationwide.
It’s about time too; sure, the intervals between hits have almost been short enough to satisfy the most curious of Tempah’s fan base (‘Frisky’ seemed to appear on radio airwaves faster than even the keenest of admirers could mumble “I’ve been to Southampton but I’ve never been to Scunthorpe”), but all the same, suspense has been rapidly swelling around the 21-year-old’s first commercial release since he initially topped the charts with ‘Pass Out’ six long months ago – and that couldn’t be ignored for much longer.
And it’s as simple as that, right? Well, it should be, but perhaps not.
“If you’ve heard ‘Pass Out’ and ‘Frisky’ and think you know what to expect, you’re wrong,” Tempah warned fans ahead of the album’s release, in what the slickest of music promotion would have you believe points to the sort of musical diversity you’d be senseless to turn your back on.
Yet, if the truth be told, Tinie Tempah’s debut is more of a muddled mix of genres which sadly misses the mark by trying too hard to fit into a catch-all category. Gone are the collaborations with fellow partners in grime such as Bashy, which took pride of place on Tempah’s mixtapes in years gone by. Instead, this time round there are duets with superstars along the lines of Swedish House Mafia and Kelly Rowland, and listening to the respective tracks it’s difficult not to tick off a mental checklist of listeners he’s making a real effort to appease. Commercial house lovers? Check. Cheesy R&B devotees? Check.
But is it so bad that it’s rendered unlistenable? No, and in fact, you’ll probably have most of the tunes stuck in your head for weeks.
Yet it’s difficult to forget that ‘Pass Out’ was the song which put Tinie Tempah on the map, and in that respect, ‘Disc-Overy’ seems like a well glossed attempt to keep him there.
By trying to tick all the boxes, Tempah has possibly stretched himself too far. But most importantly, he’s forgotten about the less polished roots that afforded him this opportunity in the first place.