Gone are the days when his fan base were 13-20 year olds that were lucky enough to catch the 4-6 sets on pirate radio station Deja Vu 92.3 Gone are the days when we would here that languid repetitive 16-bar mix up of ‘Stryder Stryder, who’s that Stryder’. Gone are the days of underground classics like ‘Tingz In Bootz’ and the rarity of catching Dizzee Rascal, Wiley and of course Tinchy ride out a two hour set to the elation of young ‘youts’ that sat by their stereo’s with their tapes on record reciting every bar.
Instead, fast-forward to 2009 and the finished article is Tinchy Stryder’s Catch 22, the debut album from the East London born artist.
Now if you’re expecting track upon track of hard grime hitting grime from Catch 22 then forget it. Put the album down and rummage through old tapes, Youtube and DVD’s to see if you can find anything.
Like I said, gone are the days of ‘Tingz In Boots’ but what Catch 22 documents is an artist that has seen the game, waited patiently, bided his time and has struck will the iron is hot.
Opening with some strong words in ‘Take Off’ Stryder whispers “Welcome, the doors are open” only then to belt out “I weren’t invited here and I ain’t leaving in a hurry, and that’s exactly how I feel so I quoted it from Dizzee”.
Through ‘Take off’ Stryder does everything from highlight his struggles of breaking through to the ‘overground’, the politics of the music industry and of course the haters to calmly conclude, “It’s nothing but the realness, you gotta feel this”.
‘I’m Landing’ sees Tinchy highlight the negatives and downsides of his new found success, “I had it all planned out and the man dem was a part of it, music game is f***ed up”.
Despite the game being “f***ed” up Catch 22’s sound is hugely influenced with that upbeat electro fused auto-tune sound that seems to have become all the rage in 2009.
‘Take Me Back’, ‘Stryderman’, and ‘Never Leave You’ which features Amelle from the Sugababes, which have all been released as singles and features production by one of the U.K’s hottest producer’s Fraser T. Smith.
Apart from ‘Stryderman’ those tracks were obviously going to make the album but for those that would be quick to criticise his choice fo r doing so then they would be put to rest when he raps “I got my mind straight, mills”, and it’s that electro sound that seems to work so well with the bulk of Stryder’s fans, grime lovers or not.
The Catch 22 concept is Tinchy’s take on the mainstream success, dealing with downsides of new found fame. One gets the impression that the ‘breaking through to the Overground’ which were words that Stryder rapped about earlier on his career isn’t a rosy as he thought and that’s the Catch 22 of it.
Despite auto-tuned fuelled electro beats Stryder’s attempt to keep it real tends to lag and bring down the quality of of very good album.
‘Tryna Be Me’ features his crew Ruff Sqwad rapping about their individual personas. Whilst ladies love him in ‘whit e linen’ not many will like him on this track as ‘Tryna Be Me’ has the potential to win the hardcore grime fans over with material that will have the very people that labelled him a ‘sell out’ raising their ‘gun fingers’. For those that don’t know a hand gesture that salutes the fact that a track is good.
However all is not lost as ‘Pit stop’ sees Stryder follow on from ‘Take off’ with an aggression that spurns lyrics like “I hit hard, I’m rattling your rib cage, know they feel my presence here, I’m coming for the first place”. ‘We Got Dem’ features another talent in the form of Chipmunk compliment Stryder with an easy flow and cocky demeanour, sending out the message that they “talk money” and also they “make it”.
Make no mistake about it, Catch 22 appeals to the masses, with ‘Halo’ ‘Warning’ and ‘You’re not Alone’ being the stronger of the albums tracks. Tinchy manages to remain with commercial upbeat electro fused sounds but still manages to cover all angles of his new found fame, trying to get a lady back which features Taio Cruz and that he will “never leave” the scene, as Amelle reminds us that he is “still loving you, like the first time”, the scene that is, the scene that created him and has got him to where he was at today.
Words by Richard Ashie