Bursting onto the scene seemingly from nowhere, 21-year-old MC Tinie Tempah has rapidly overtaken Dizzee Rascal as the U.K.'s biggest urban star, scoring two huge-selling number ones and two further Top Five singles in just six months. Indeed, whereas the likes of Ellie Goulding and Marina & the Diamonds dominated the 2010 "ones to watch" lists, Tempah was pretty much ignored, with the likes of Giggs and Devlin occupying the hip-hop quota instead. His unexpected chart dominance is undoubtedly down to his unique lyrical content, which is littered with pop culture references and amusing one-liners, his quick-fire delivery, and some rather epic production, from the guitar solo-filled stadium rock-inspired "Written in the Stars," to the dub-heavy Labrinth co-writes "Frisky" and "Pass Out." But despite debuting at number one, Tempah's second album isn't necessarily a case of an underground artist giving in to commercial sensibilities. Indeed, much of Disc-Overy could have easily fit on his 2007 grime-influenced mixtape Hood Economics Room 147, particularly the harsh techno beat-driven "Simply Unstoppable," and the frantic drum'n'bass of the Pendulum-style "Intro." Featuring several well-established guest singers, there are concessions to the poppier end of the spectrum, but they work just as convincingly as the grimier moments. Kelly Rowland appears on "Invincible," whose huge piano riffs sound suspiciously similar to her David Guetta duet "When Love Takes Over"; "Wonderman" combines computer game synth sounds with Ellie Goulding's folk-led vocals to surprisingly powerful effect, and "Miami 2 Ibiza" is an anthemic house floor filler produced by dance supergroup Swedish House Mafia. Elsewhere, "Illusion" echoes the plinky piano sounds of early-2000s Dr. Dre's "Just a Little," featuring the soulful tones of Range, and is the closest the album gets to a ballad, while the Naughty Boy-produced "Let Go" is a dark, brooding finale featuring rising R&B star Emeli Sande. A super-confident and adventurous collection of songs, Disc-Overy is the sound of an artist completely on top of their game, which could finally help the distinctly British grime scene go worldwide.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien
feat: Swedish House Mafia