Tony Tillman - Camden

Published Thursday 14th April 2016
Tony Tillman - Camden
Tony Tillman - Camden

STYLE: Hip-Hop
RATING 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 158084-23230
LABEL: Reflection Music Group

Reviewed by Andrew Midgley

'Thank God I made it out', Tony Tillman concludes on 'Camden''s penultimate track, winding up an album of ghettoscapes, street scrapes and grace in grime. There are weak points to 'Camden' - Truth Chile's saccharine guest vocal on "Inspiration" and a similar R&B compromise on "Without You" spoil some of the album's grittiness - but Tillman's dextrous flow guides his story from a series of introductory flash-frames about alcoholism and cannabis on "870" through to "Ghost", an extended tale of bloody woe involving the murder, by her Christian husband, of one of Tillman's friends. It all feels personal, grateful and laced with regret; an over-the-shoulder gangland retrospective about discovering the Rock beneath the concrete. Centrepieces "Lord Have Mercy" (ftg Derek Minor and B Cooper) and "Shadows" (ftg Sye Spence) exemplify this, the former's shoutalong refrain contrasting beautifully with the latter's guest vocal: Spence's timbre, somewhere between Adele and Lana del Rey, makes a welcome, mournful departure from gospel guest acts and creates the album's best moment after Tillman raps "what's the use of going to school if you only die before graduation?" Tillman's crafting of 'Camden''s tone is for the most part as wise as it is clever, choosing earnestness in adversity rather than the anger of mainstream hip-hop, yet emphasising for the sake of truth the despair that other Christian rappers airbrush out. There are lapses into moralising - "Role Models" lets down its compelling verse vignettes of drop-out demises with a chorus of "these were my role models" - but these cautionary tale bum notes are the exception rather than the rule. A convincing listen.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

Interested in reviewing music? Find out more here.

Be the first to comment on this article

We welcome your opinions but libellous and abusive comments are not allowed.

We are committed to protecting your privacy. By clicking 'Send comment' you consent to Cross Rhythms storing and processing your personal data. For more information about how we care for your data please see our privacy policy.