This woman has so much talent as both a poet and a musician/rapper. In her 2014 Mercury prize nominated album, “Everybody Down”, she tells these beautiful stories of simple everyday things that can easily be forgotten by contemporary artists. Her characters are more often than not stuck in a severely average-to-poor situation. Their environment is grey and dull, their lives are more about getting by than anything else. And yet they have these moments of electricity, which amount to a touch or a glance across a room but which Tempest describes in a completely captivating way. This album mixes social commentary, comedy, romance, and moving depictions of the life of a 20-something person.
It’s rough around the edges in an endearing way, with offbeat, often disconcerting rhythms and little background noise touches that mirror what is being said. “Lonely Daze” has an lazy, infectious rhythm and a relatable storyline, whilst “Beigeness” speeds things up a bit and uses its name to weave a picture of the mundane. My lyrical highlight comes in the track “Circles” in which Tempest exclaims, “push me, I’ll clam up, I’m shellfish”. It’s one of those lines that sticks with you somehow because of the way it’s said and it’s rhythmical perfection.
Tempest’s album doesn’t appeal to everyone but is undoubtedly a crowning moment for unashamed realism in poetry and hip hop. This album is an amazing feat of storytelling, a novel within itself. I beg you to indulge.