Tinie Tempah: Youth
Tinie Tempah has notched up seven UK number one singles, more than anyone else in the 2010s. One is tucked away among the extra tracks on Youth’s deluxe edition, his 2015 hit “Not Letting Go” — presumably demoted from the main body of the album so as not to make the London rapper seem like a time-traveller from the distant era of two years ago, before grime’s resurgence transformed UK hip-hop’s profile.
A slinky and light-hearted collaboration with Zara Larsson, “Girls Like”, shows he can still locate the pop-rap sweet spot; but the rest of his third studio album is patchy. Although the title track finds him promising to rap “with more emotion”, he fails to project an interesting or complex persona, and instead falls back on a predictable celebration of success, chiefly measured through luxury brands and amorous conquests.
Songs oscillate uncertainly between pop hooks and pro forma grime, while flashes of wit are obscured by bad puns, of which the worst is the illogical geopolitical clunker: “I might move to North Korea because my career’s heading north.”