Kate Tempest – Everybody Down (2014)

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Not everyone who saw this 27-year-old’s spoken-word theatre show Brand New Ancients (for which she became the youngest-ever winner of the Ted Hughes prize) will be excited by the poet’s venture into hip-hop. Likewise, there are hip-hop fans already dismissing the idea of a former Brit-schooler trying her hand at MCing, no matter that Tempest spent her teenage years on the battle-rap circuit. Forget genre, though, and this unique album has much going for it. Everybody Down tells the story of three characters battling loneliness in the big city, with each song representing a new chapter. The obvious reference point is the Streets’ second album, A Grand Don’t Come for Free, although Dan Carey’s unsteadying beats leave no room for Mike Skinner’s trademark way with a chorus. Tempest shines, though, through her use of language, which illuminates the subject matter – from boardroom drug deals to vacuous parties where “everybody – has got a hyphenated second name” – to dazzling effect.

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