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Though still languishing in the deepest depths of Urban music's underground, Upwards
confirms that Brixton rapper Ty deserves to be just as recognised as label mate Roots Manuva
. Following on from where the easy flowing R&B and London-centric humour of his 2001 debut, Awkward
, left off, he further refines the antidote to UK hip-hop's grim reality. The smouldering funk and quick-witted rhymes of "I Want 2" and "Groovement" continue to deliver his dysfunctional life and infinite wisdom with a sly nod.
But just in case anyone mistook his debut's lighter touch for a lack of serious talent, Upwards expands his repertoire and leaves his peers looking decidedly two-dimensional. The electro thud of "Ha Ha" and "Look for Me"'s sub bass voodoo chant set his astute wordplay to uncharacteristically hi-tech rhythm tracks to be as arresting as his vintage grooves are soulful. And if any doubts remain as to his musical smarts, "Do You Want More?" vanquishes them by shaping a strident hip hop march out of a plinky fairground tune. Likewise, his superior lyrical intellect makes "Music to Fly To" the best spoken word lament about modern life since Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". With lines such as "September 11th/all of a sudden people are paying attention to a problem that didn't begin on the 10th" he provides food for thought rarely found in rap from either side of the pond. --Dan Gennoe