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With his third album, Ty earned the right to be called consistently brilliant. Awkward was the best debut in British rap since Roots Manuva's Brand New Second Hand, and his second album Upwards grabbed a Mercury nomination for adding a futurist sheen to Ty's imaginative, penetrating raps. Closer may not change Ty's game at all, but when an artist is functioning at such a high level, there's nothing to criticize when you hear more of the same. Coming out of one of the best studios in England, Drew Horley's Lab, Closer boasts the most compelling sound in rap circa 2007, thanks to the production roles shared by Horley and Ty (together they're known as Lizzies Children). Ty begins the record with "Don't Watch That," a typically bumping bashment track that details the many travails of fame -- but rest assured, he hasn't gone all Mike Skinner on his fans. "This Here Music" could have been a highlight on A Tribe Called Quest's The Love Movement, and guest Speech from Arrested Development channels his inner Q-Tip well. The D.A.I.S.Y. Age sound only continues with "The Idea" featuring De La Soul, but the Ty is more restless than merely regurgitating his influences. "What You Want (Taylormade)" is a perfect broken beat jam, while "Oh!" finds Ty confronting the 1994 Rwandan genocide (which must have hit close to home for someone with African parents). By the time Rich Medina closes the album with a smooth spoken word piece called "Hustle (That's Why We)," it's clear that while Closer may not be as consistent as Upwards, its highlights are just as impressive.

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