When one thinks of female rappers, they probably think of Iggy Azalea, and perhaps Nicki Minaj. Maybe Missy Elliott (though when was the last time she was relevant). Wait, has Kesha made a rap album? At any rate, very few of the conversation include the name Kate Tempest, and they should. The love child of Lily Allen and the Streets, Kate Tempest isn’t a wannabe badass with a fake accent. She is British, very British, has a bit of an edge, and is much more old school.
Her album – Everybody Down – is a conglomeration of 90’s British rap and lo-fi techno drum & bass sounds. Its a combination that solidly works. Some are lighter, some are darker; they are all very well mixed together. The first track Marshall Law serves as a great lead-in as it builds up familiarity of the backing track. It doesn’t jar you right off the bat and fuck with your senses. By the time you reach the end of the CD, Happy End, the final song, sounds like an experiment. Someone asked how many different sounds could we together and then layer her voice over top. Yet, her voice is still audible, legible and understood – even with that insanely thick Brockley accent. Even with her exquisite British-ness, her use of language draws you in, and harkens back to an older, more intellectual style of hip-hop
It shouldn’t be surprising that Tempest is a tantalizing musical wordsmith. In 2013, she won the Ted Hughes Prize for her book of poetry Brand New Ancients. So she’s a legitimate artists. Those Brits. Always being the best at everything. Did I mention it also won the 2013 Off West End Award. I imagine that’s something like an Obie. Well what do you expect from a gal who lists Woolf, Auden, Joyce, Beckett, Yeats and Blake as her influences. If that wasn’t enough to impress you already (maybe you’re just too damn hard to please), Everybody Down was shortlisted for the 2014 Mercury Prize. Is there nothing this Prospera can’t do? She is our British female rapping version of Leonard Cohen.