Debut SU:Media writer Jacob Griffiths sinks his teeth into Too Many T's new album, South Side. Take this as a reminder not to judge a book by its cover!
I like to claim I’m not a judgemental guy; but I think, to the degree that all humans are inherently judgemental and derisive, I probably am... and then some. It would certainly explain why upon taking one look at Too Many T’s general aesthetic (before I had even done them the justice of considering their new album South Side) my mind, quite uninvited, muttered something along the lines of ‘Oh Christ, Example had twins’.
Now I’m sure there are many Example fans still out there, hiding under technicolour rocks and the like. I mean, sure, he was good at what he did; he fit seamlessly into the era of bizarre lens-less glasses with his tweeny electronic music with catchy - and fundamentally terrible – ‘bars’ smeared lazily over the top, adjusting nicely to the era which served as those final twitching muscle spasms of the 90s. But upon a cursory glance at Too Many T’s, I admit that my knee-jerk reaction was one of despair.
Full disclosure, fifteen-year-old me was briefly obsessed with his album Don’t Go Quietly.
Brief pause while I hang my head.
However, it was only a cursory glance, and as you can probably tell, I’m both quite fanciful and probably quite unfair with my initial reactions. Sue me, I’m only human (I can still say that right? It’s not been copyrighted, yeah? Good). So, as self-aware of this as I am, I figured it was only fair to dive on in with a grimace and listen to some of the musician’s actual music, before hammering the final nails of my ham-fisted opinion into the coffin of my listening experience.
Before I got my greedy mitts on South Side (their "debut album of consummate skill and emotional depth” as described by toomanyts.com), I turned to YouTube to glean a perfunctory analysis of their music. The video I chose, quite at random, was their Sofar London video from 2014, Plum Jam.
I have to admit, I found their personalities, or at least, given that I have never actually met either of them, their online personalities, instantly infectious. Despite my rampant love of being mildly miserable, I found myself smiling almost immediately before the music had even started. Loth to admit the error of my own ways, I clamped down on my smile and continued watching with a stern eye for all of three seconds, before remembering that having fun is perfectly acceptable despite my best efforts, and deciding to try and ‘get into the swing of it’.
Which proved incredibly easy.
So, as you can see, my brief introduction to Too Many T’s was, not quite a rollercoaster, but an indecisive elevator, shall we say. With higher hopes than I had harboured not five minutes before, I turned to their album, determined to at the very least, give them a chance.
How glad am I that I did? Very. Not even ten seconds into the first track, South City Court, and I was stood at the window, happily tossing my predispositions into the wind.
Too Many T’s album blends personality with music seamlessly, and, more importantly, effortlessly, in that their music exudes their personalities and vice versa. Such names as JME and Die Antwoord spring to mind as potential comparisons, artists who rely heavily on their crafted personas with their work, so much so that their characters are as arguably important to their success as is their music. Not in sound, for the most part, but in nature. Too Many T’s certainly bear little resemblance to JME’s thumping basslines and firey spray. Nor does their sound have much in common with Die Antwoord’s purposefully vulgar and contrarian lyrics or hyper-energetic electronic beats.
However, this is the crux of such musicians; their music is them, rather than their product, and this is something that Too Many T’s seem to have absolutely nailed. Furthermore, comparing personalities is a rather futile venture, and so comparing or contrasting Too Many T’s to the likes of JME and Die Antwoord in too much depth will only lead to basic and arbitrary conclusions and an ignorance of Too Many T’s wonderfully unique sound. Hang Tight, Diamonds Gold (Ice White and Black) and Panther, tracks three, five and eight respectively, are the ones that particularly stood out for me. Each song manages to be completely its own, whilst also being irrefutably Too Many T’s, and in my experience, it is rare to find such variance in an album that doesn’t sacrifice quality for said variety.
South Side, at the risk of missing the point, is above all energetic and fun, which is something I personally hold in the highest regard when it comes to my own music taste. Some enjoy pensive music - music for looking through rainy windows and reflecting. South Side certainly isn’t that. Others are partial to love ballads, odes to the infinite search. South Side, unless I’m very much mistaken, is this neither.
This album, to further exhaust an already overused cliché, is that friend who is the life of the party, even when there is no party; that friend who you're always laughing with, never laughing at. It is certainly an album that I’ll be keeping around - its energy is infectious, addictive, and effortless. Too Many T’s, I feel, are only just getting started, and I for one cannot wait to hear what else they concoct.
I could wax lyrical about this album endlessly, the ease yet impact of their flow, the irrefutable urge to dance it places upon you. About how, in an era where rap music is increasingly becoming overrun with ‘tough guy’ actors banging on about how gangster they are, South Side is a refreshingly honest burst of energy, that relies on no façade to draw you in. But why spoil the fun with a load of analysis? If you like rap music, go buy it. If you don’t, go buy it anyway, and you soon will.
As do most artists, Too Many T’s are on tour to coincide with their album release, from the 11th October to 8th November 2017, in a sprawl of venues up and down the country. They’re even coming to Plymouth (lucky them), and I eagerly await the opportunity to this duo perform live. If my instincts are correct, they will be artists who only improve in a live setting, their style would certainly seem to suit the freedom of a live show over the restrictions of individual tracks.
As an English student, I should really have known better than to judge a book by its cover. What a brilliant way to, once more, learn this lesson.