Previously an underground outlet for showcasing a style of British hip-hop ignored by the mainstream, the London pirate radio scene has recently spawned a never-ending array of chart stars that would make The X Factor envious. Following in the footsteps of Dizzee, Kano, and Tinchy, 20-year-old MC Ironik is the latest to find fame outside the streets of Hackney, scoring two Top Ten hits and a string of nominations at both the MOBO and MTV Europe Music Awards. Ironik's rather lengthy 18-track debut album, No Point in Wasting Tears, explains why he's managed to find a space in the increasingly crowded genre. While there are occasional flashes of the quick-fire MC skills, harsh beats, and grime production that dominate his counterparts' output ("Would You Like That," "So Nice"), the majority of the album positions him as the kind of sensitive R&B balladeer that you wouldn't be afraid to take home to your parents. Lead single "Stay with Me" is a mournful tribute to a departed friend featuring chipmunk-style speeded-up vocals and the most of unlikeliest samples, Westlife album track "Written in the Stars"; "Save a Little Love" is a funky slow jam based on a "Sexual Healing"-influenced bassline and the soulful tones of emerging urban vocalist Digga; and the self-explanatory "Mum" is a heartfelt acoustic number that borrows the chorus from Boyz II Men's underrated 1995 hit "Water Runs Dry." He handles the more uptempo numbers just as convincingly, tackling Kanye West-style '80s-inspired hip-hop and Wiley-esque pounding electro on two different versions of "I Wanna Be Your Man" and 2-step garage on the lilting piano hooks of "I'm Leaving." But even though his romantic lyrical themes and laid-back delivery are a refreshing antidote to the macho bravado posturing favored by the likes of N-Dubz, it can occasionally veer into over-schmaltzy territory, particularly on "Tracy," a slushy ode to a long-lost childhood sweetheart that sounds like it's been penned by a love-struck 12-year-old; the sugary boy band balladry of "Sometimes It Snows in April," which appears to have wandered in from the first *NSYNC album; and his collaboration with Chipmunk, a ham-fisted attempt at adding an unnecessary urban edge to Elton John's classic "Tiny Dancer." No Point in Wasting Tears' unashamedly soppy nature won't exactly bolster his street credentials, but even though it lacks the credibility and invention of his peers, it's still a promising first offering that provides a welcome alternative to those who prefer their hip-hop with an air of romance.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien