Tuesday, October 07, 2014

'Everybody Down' by Kate Tempest

7 October 2014

It's not often that a rapper is featured on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, but Kate Tempest is not your average rapper. Last month, the day after her new album 'Everybody Down' was shortlisted for the Mercury music prize, Kate Tempest was selected by the Poetry Book Society as one its Next Generation poets. The 27-year old from South East London studied music at the Brit School and poetry at Goldsmiths College. Intrigued, I thought I would listen to 'Everybody Down' but I have to admit that when I first played the opening track my immediate reaction was that hip-hop really isn't my kind of music and I very nearly gave up on the album. Something persuaded me to persevere and I decided to reserve judgement until I had listened to the whole thing. I realised I really needed to give my full attention to the words and treat 'Everybody Down' like a radio play, written in verse, with background music – rather than thinking of it as an album of songs. The 12 tracks form a single continuous story with excellently drawn characters and I found myself rooting for Becky as her family and friends pull her into a world of criminality, drug-dealing and violence. There is some wonderful word-play:  

I’m in a mess, I can’t help it
I just go round and round
I’m paranoid, I’m selfish
Push me, I clam up, I’m shellfish
We had a dream, I shelved it
That eats me up, that’s Elvis
Las Vegas era
I’m half bag lady, half Bagheera

And the more I listened the more I fell for the words, the characters and the story. I've since learned that Kate Tempest is working on transferring the characters from Everybody Down into a novel, due to be published next year, which will begin where the album ends and will also include characters from two of her three stage plays (one of which was commissioned by Paines Plough). Clearly Kate Tempest is a name to watch.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home