SQ Magazine

The UK's Leading Independent Youth Culture Publication

REVIEW: Tay Devenny – Shrine

Posted on Tuesday, 11 February by

Tay Devenny - Arabian Seas

4 Stars

Hip-hop is going into new directions. Artists like Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lemar and J. Cole have taken America by storm and in the UK Tay Devenny – the likely result of putting Jay Electronica and Ghostpoet into a blender – is forging a new school of his own with this debut album.

UK rap has been like US hip-hop’s distant admirer; a re-hash of tired sounds that are devoid of originality and always failing to shift our expectations. Things looked to be changing in 2010 when the likes of Tinie Tempah, Giggs and Kano redefined our understanding of British lyricism but as time goes on that looks more and more like a false dawn. After hearing Tay Devenny’s ‘Arabian Seas’ – a blend of composed, intelligent lyrics and dreamy beats – there’s reason for optimism.

While Tay chose ‘Arabian Seas’ as the lead single from Shrine, the rest of the album didn’t disappoint and most of the tracks follow the same suit. Tay’s outstanding choice of beats (provided by the exceptionally gifted Cosmic) combined with harmonising lyrics are beautiful to listen to, almost tranquillising.

‘Black Lodge’ is the album’s outstanding track. Our ears visit a space that feels like it belongs to Kendrick Lamar: a mash of echoic beats and candid lyrics that sees Tay shunning the tag of a “hip-hop cliche”. It’s here where we get our firmest understanding of who Tay is as an artist and where he sees his future.

Track 8 – ‘Stale Padre’ – is another favourite and sees Tay cement his place in the new class of hip-hop. It’s at this point where Tay best shows his skills as a rapper, rhyming at great speeds in a brilliantly dizzying contrast to lackadaisical beats. Meanwhile, for those of us who grew up in the 90s and early 00s, Tay’s subtle namedropping of WWF stars like Rob Van Dam and Bam Bam Bigelow in ‘Aldemeri’ is something like a nostalgia trip.

Unfortunately, sometimes we just don’t get enough of the good stuff. Songs like ‘Black Lodge’ and ‘Aldemeri’ are the ones you want to hear more of but only last for two and half minutes while others last less than two. Tay has certainly left us wanting more.

On reflection, ‘Shrine’ isn’t an album that will change the face of UK rap overnight, nor are we likely to see ‘Moonbeams’ or ‘Aldemeri’ leapfrog anything by Macklemore in the Top 40. But more importantly, Tay gives us reason to believe that flair and creative thinking isn’t dead in UK hip-hop.

This is a sign of what’s to come. The industry needs to listen up.

Listen to ‘Shrine’ on the player above.

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Aakash Nath

Aakash Nath

Contributor at SQ Magazine
Media student at the University of Brighton. Aspirant journalist with an interest in music, entertainment and tech.
Aakash Nath

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