Ty Upwards

While all the recent fuss around UK hip-hop has recently been focused on Dizzee Rascal, there’s plenty more where he came from and he’s not the only UK MC around collecting accolades. While it’s not quite the Mercury Prize, Ty picked up a lot of credibility by topping renowned BBC Radio DJ Gilles Peterson’s 2003 year-end poll for best album. In many ways Ty is Dizzee Rascal’s polar opposite. While the boy in da corner is a brash energetic upstart fashioning minimalist electronic beats, Ty is a laid-back veteran with an eclectic musical approach. Upwards represents a significant upgrade from the jazz-rap direction of his Awkward debut. While on that record Ty sometimes seemed to be trying too hard to please others, it’s evident here that he’s found a comfort zone and isn’t the least concerned with following the latest rap trends. This opens the doors for Ty to expand his musical horizons. If anything the influence of West London broken beat weighs heavily on this record with Ty’s connecting with scenester Bembe Segue on the body-rocking "Groovement.” On this track as elsewhere, Ty moulds his delivery to the stellar production, never trying to overpower it. As well as style, Ty isn’t lacking in the substance department either. His relentlessly positive and deceptively lucid lyrics, whether facing relationship stress ("Wait A Minute”) or mining observations on urban life ("Music To Fly To”), link coherently with the progressive production vibe. When he does reach back into the past he comes up with "The Willing” an intoxicating Afrobeat jam featuring former Fela Kuti bandleader Tony Allen, that essentially captures the spirit of this rousing, uplifting affair. (Big Dada)