Slowthai - ‘nhs’ Review

It’s almost 2021, and the Slowthai hype train continues on. With the release of his new album, ‘Tyron’, right around the corner, the usual sprinkling of singles are on their way. The newest of these is ‘nhs’, which after two weeks, has reached an impressive 900,000+ plays on Spotify at the time of writing.

It was certainly tough to predict where Slowthai would go at the beginning of his career. His evolved grime style was fresh, and for sure caught ears, but it wasn’t until the release of North Nights’ that it became evident he was on something different. From there, he developed his style and persona in equal measure, resulting in a brand that is now seemingly unmatched in his field, combining characteristics from punk and street culture. There have been controversies along the way sure, but he has done a remarkable job of maintaining an honest, and genuine image.

The vast majority of his music up until this point has been reflecting an angsty, angry, hyped up sensibility. ‘nhs’ however, is a change of pace. His performance is animated in the usual Slowthai way, but the lyrics and subject matter bring out an aura we haven’t seen. It’s intimate, introspective, and honest, with a chilled out, emotional instrumental to pair. He paints a picture of duality, drawing out objects and subjects, comparing them to their opposite/partnering. Here he questions, what is the point of something without its direct opposite?

“What’s a flight without turbulence?

A life without circumstance?

Boxing without another stance?

Country with no coat of arms?”

Interesting stuff. And once you watch it’s music video (a must for every Slowthai tune), its themes of the lockdown become apparent. Here we see him; waiting in a supermarket queue, alone in his room, missing much needed toilet paper, and still smiling. Although, like many of his songs, the message and meaning feels slightly elusive and up to interpretation (not necessarily a bad thing), there is a real sense of, be happy with what you have, and don’t take things for granted. He explains the link to the NHS as we were only clapping for them, and appreciating them due to the crysis we were put under. Maybe, we should be more grateful.

“When people were clapping for the NHS, my thing was, why did it take us this long to applaud something that’s been helping people, saving lives for generations, generations, generations? Helping people longer than we’ve been alive? It took a disaster to make people appreciate the NHS. Clapping, how is that helping anyone? If we really want to help, why don’t we do stuff to raise their wage or make it more comfortable for the people that are going to work them 12-hour, 14-hour shifts?”

Aside from its rather lowkey, not super interesting instrumental, it’s a very strong single that leaves you with little complaints. Its excellent sense of theme certainly has me excited for ‘Tyron’, and further solidifies my respect for him as an artist. Here’s to the NHS.

“‘Look at what you’ve got and be grateful for it.’”

8/10

Music Producer, DJ, and music lover, just sharing my musical journey as it happens :) I stream on twitch here www.twitch.tv/ydnas11