Over the years, UK rappers—particularly those falling under the increasingly meaningless “grime” designation—have had trouble translating their overseas hype into success on these shores. (Just ask The Streets, Dizzee Rascal, and Lady Sovereign.) Britain’s latest Next Big Thing hopeful, Tinie Tempah, comes saddled with two No. 1 singles and an album, a couple of Brit awards, and comparisons to Kanye West—weighty expectations just waiting to be dashed by the capricious American public. Tempah’s full-length debut, Disc-Overy (which has been rejiggered with three new songs for its American release) mitigates that risk by covering as many bases as possible in terms of genre, lyrics, and guest appearances. Want hip-hop swagger married to catchy electro-pop? Check out the aforementioned No. 1 singles, “Pass Out” and “Frisky.” Prefer anthemic, radio-ready positive rap? Maybe the piano-driven “Written In The Stars” is more your speed. Lovers of club-ready house music, Tempah and Swedish House Mafia have you covered with the sublimely stupid “Miami 2 Ibiza.” And of course, there are a couple of introspective, R&B-tinged cuts featuring female-sung hooks, “Love Suicide” and “Let Go.” Throughout, Tempah’s lyrics remain eloquent, humorous, and appealingly offbeat—sometimes literally, when he utilizes a syncopated flow and unusual rhyme schemes to stand out against the songs’ huge, glossy production. Disc-Overy displays plenty of potential and willingness to experiment, but suffers a bit from its ambition, ignoring cohesion or a clear statement of purpose in favor of popular appeal.
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