Tinchy Stryder – Third Strike | Album Review

Tinchy Stryder has always claimed to be on cloud nine and in 2009, he very much proved that the sky is the limit. The number one selling male artist in the UK was just one of the many accolades which came from the young superstar, whose early Grime days seem like a lifetime ago.

Striking a fine balance between stylish verses and big, dance anthems, the Stryderman now finds himself courting the attention of an audience made up of raucous teen fans, respected industry figures in the UK as well as a certain Head of Roc Nation.

So what does that mean for his third album Third Strike? Will the prying eyes of all these interested parties force the Golden boy to take a more predictable route? Or does a young man who has gained so much musical power, use it to his advantage to squeeze out a differing sound altogether?

Tinchy’s ability to switch from ‘Underground emcee’ to a mainstream rap artist is what has made him successful today and brings this arsenal to Third Strike. His controlled, somewhat simplistic rhyme scheme makes him more accessible as well as having a style which would be easier to perform on daytime radio. ‘Take The World’ featuring Bridget Kelly is a dramatised opener, as its intense production and plans of grandeur theme highlights something of a maturity in his music.

But even when returning to the upbeat, techno pop tracks, Stryder’s raps and added choruses give it enough edge to avoid entering the cheesy territory. An example of this is on ‘In My System’, which sounds like something which Kylie Minogue could possibly jump on, yet Tinchy’s charming performance and Jodie Connor’s enriched choral contribution steer it into a safer direction.

Third Strike follows a very concise song structure (bar a number tracks) – crossover productions, clear verses, and a guest vocalist. Future star Bluey Robinson’s performance on ‘Tomorrow’ is a success, adding further emotion to Tinchy’s soul bearing story, whilst roping in international starlet Melanie Fiona on ‘Let It Rain’ proves to be a Transatlantic collabo which works.

The problem lies however in content; diversity is not a key word for Third Strike as the repetitive strands of love do tire very early. The lead single ‘Second Chance’ featuring Taio Cruz is probably the biggest culprit of this flaw, as it sounds like a B-Side or a demo version of his previous collab with Tinchy on ‘Take Me Back’.

When Tinchy breaks free from the above formula, his verses are abrasive and raw over the distorted beats on show. ‘Gangsta’ has the Star in the Hood playing boss, running game over all the pretend gangsters, Famous’ provides a solid performance and the undisputed track of the album ‘Game Over’ provides one of Grime’s highlights of the year as Giggs, Professor Green, Tinie Tempah and a number of the scene’s elite tear ferociously into a hazy, warped cut which is a relief for those interested in hearing something with a cutting edge.

It’s not easy to be the number one artist in the country and still remain close to your underground roots, yet Tinchy makes a respected effort to cover both grounds. Whilst material wise, a change in topics would add more dimensions to his music, there’s no question that Third Strike will help to maintain his position as a top selling artist within the UK. There are enough chart-worthy hits on offer, the same PG rated lyrical offerings plus guests on hand to attract newer fans.

What’s more impressive is that even after ten plus years of honing his craft in the world of pirate radio and clashes, he hasn’t lost the ability or the heart to produce such pulsating material, even if it’s only for brief periods. So long as he is a commodity within the UK chart scene, a full on grime album is less likely to happen. But until then, a tolerance of disco pop and R&B vocalists will have to be accepted, even if its just to hear a snippet of the grimier cuts which he has now surpassed.

–Henry Yanney

Third Strike is out now.

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