Tenchoo – Scary Movie (Album Review)

For those of you who don’t know about Tenchoo by now, I suggest you set aside a couple of hours or so (but ideally an afternoon) to get acquainted with his battles on Don’t Flop. A big personality with a remarkably poised delivery as well as an awesome ability to mix impromptu rebuttals and freestyles in with his equally hard-hitting, relevant and intricately crafted written verses, Tenchoo might just be THE battler to beat in the UK right now (though I can’t help but wonder if the true test of his supremacy would be for him battle the equally beloved battle extraordinaire known as Oshea out of Liverpool — but who knows). Furthermore, the positive exposure provided by these battles (which have garnered over 100,000 views in total) has proved an invaluable means of promoting an album for which many Tenchoo fans, both old and new, have been kept waiting a fair amount of time for. Well, after months of anticipation here it is: it’s called Scary Movie, it’s 16 tracks long, it’s available for just a fiver and rest assured, you’ll find it’s every bit as dope as you hoped for.

Originally out of South Norwood, London, Tenchoo arrived on the South Coast as a teenager only to find himself in a place devoid of a serious music scene, and one dominated by and large by generic house and garage styles. Indeed, one of the album’s most resonant and pertinent themes is the cultural and geographical isolation he, and no doubt many other hip-hop artists and enthusiasts like him in the UK experience: i.e. those who are often dispersed throughout the country and lack a real centre to gravitate towards. In ‘Barrel Crabs’ for example, he describes being confined to what he describes as “cliquey hip-hop venues” to get his name out there, as well as having to tackle what he calls the “small-town syndrome” of Pompey inhabitants who, are generally unwilling to expand their musical horizons to the likes of Tenchoo’s brand of lyrical, hardcore hip-hop.

An obvious trap of the so-called lyrical emcees — and one I was worried Tenchoo might fall into prior to listening to Scary Movie — is to stick to the same trite lyrical patterns with an abject lack of creativity and diversity of subject matter; however, thematically the album is extremely well varied — runnning the gamut from extremely down-to-earth ruminations on life, right the way through to compelling fictional first-person narratives of pre-apocalyptic doom and chaos. He also proves himself an able storyteller, a talented wordsmith and most importantly, a beastly rhymer — his convoluted, densely packed verses and polysyllabic rhyme schemes displaying obvious shades of Canibus, along with a smattering of various other heavy-hitting, afrocentric Golden age artists. Thankfully, Tenchoo doesn’t display the same greater-than-thou mentality of his chief role model, and perhaps the most charming thing about him as a rapper is his modesty and his realistic outlook on life, despite some amazing lyrical outbursts: I’m the only author, who survived vampire bites intoxicating my veins with holy water. Played off against the ultra-lyrical stanzas, are his stories of street life which stay rooted in the gritty and the realistic: ‘Staying Positive’ for example, is an edgy, poetic tale loaded with evocative similies and metaphors, about the potential pitfalls of street life and of falling foul of this delusional “ghetto mentality”. In addition, there is a warranted inclusion of some excellent skits including a tongue-in-cheek dialogue featuring Nick Bright (Tenchoo’s brother and an upcoming radio presenter on BBC’s 1Xtra) with a Portsmouth local with whom he discusses his misgivings and overall apprehension towards Tenchoo’s style and how ill-fitting it is in the local scene (as per the theme Tenchoo discusses in previous tracks). There’s also a friendly nod to fellow 2-on-2 battle partner Lego out of York in “North South Connect” in which the two spit some sick a cappella verses outside one of the battling events.

Technically, Tenchoo’s flow and cadence are slick and powerful, though at times teetering on the predictable, until he switches it up on ‘Extreme Power’ — his impressive ebbing-and-flowing staccato delivery contriving to make this one of the album’s stand-out tracks. Teaming up with Pompey beatmaker Haji of Haji’s Yard, the album has an honest old-school vibe bolstered by sturdy production values despite working to a limited independent budget and despite the absence of high-end studio techniques. In fact, it rarely fails to live up to expectations, with the production and overall soundscape not merely complimenting Tenchoo’s lyrics but also having been tailored to befit the character and to heighten the meaning of each track. The combination of dark, ominous samples mixed with traditional boom-baps mesh perfectly with Tenchoo’s battle raps and his impressive vocabulary.

Overall, it’s a seriously hard-hitting album with an irresistably simple yet effective combination of banging beats and hard-hitting rhymes sure to satisfy the musical cravings of any hip-hop head. To all intents and purposes, Scary Movie is testament to the worthy ascent of one of the UK’s most exciting underground rap prospects.

Buy Scary Movie now for just £5 @http://firstson.bandcamp.com

Old track from Tenchoo. Produced by 2late.

  1. Good review Tom.

    I’ve been looking forward to this album for time.

    I remember you from your YouTube profile (that’s now closed), I was ‘antisocialbastard’, commented on a few of your videos.

    Seeing as you’re a Nottingham man, are you going to the event on the 11th?

    • Thanks man. Rest assured I’ll be there at the Don’t Flop event on the 11th. See you there hopefully!

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