Monday, 3 March 2008

Ten out of Tenny Ten Ten

“That 10shott… he’s so hot right now.” Whether you like Zoolander or not, Tenny is on fire and will be for some time to come, judging by his performance at Birmingham’s prestigious Jam House venue last Wednesday. Armed with an arsenal of certified bangers fuelled by dollops of charisma, the Midlands-based artist is as close to breaking as Pete Doherty is to being incarcerated. Hip Hop Connection have gone so far as to label him "the best up-and-coming UK hip hop artist to date".

I was lucky enough to be one of those invited to the official launch party of 10Shott’s first single release, 'Memory Blank', at Jools Holland’s club last week (admittedly, only because Aidan couldn’t go, but still). Having witnessed some of 'Groundbreaker… a di Real' being recorded last summer my ears were eagerly awaiting some more material and the fact that it was going to be live was the icing on the cake. The fact that it was going to be live accompanied with free drinks and canapés was the cherry on the icing on the cake.

First off, the guy has charm. And charisma. Which is just charm with a few more letters in. He possesses the stage and connects with the audience. It’s hard not to like him as his candour and personality are present during the performance, something which isn’t true for many artists. The partnership between Tenny and Big Wayne crackled as they both bounced off each other, sometimes quite literally.

'Memory Blank' was performed first and even the technical glitches were gladly received as it meant we got to hear it one and a half times over. If you haven’t heard this track, give yourself a slap on the wrist, then go to now and get your listen on. Aidan’s reviewed it here before so I won’t go through it all again. Suffice it to say that live it was even better. 10Shott’s flow is sublime, his rhymes elegant: There goes another piece of paper in the bin / There goes another piece of patience wearing thin. Heady piano runs, ominous strings and a head-jerking beat are perfectly married to witty lyrics – he even manages to mention hoovering. Yours truly began to entertain delusions that even I, a white(ish) female who gets excited about documentaries on the History channel, could rap – he made it look that easy.

Next came 'Talkin’ American', a tune with a fierce hook that represents one of Tenny’s greatest assets: his insistence on keeping it UK. Incidentally, for me one of the great things about this artist is that he isn’t metrocentric and reps for the Midlands rather than London, London, and London. Anyone who can get ‘Wolverhampton’ into his raps and still make it sound hot has got to be talented.

Other tracks performed were an acapella called 'Confused about Religion' (pleasingly involving a humorous line about circumcision) and 'Letter to My Twin Bro' (the chorus of which featured the beautiful voice of their mutual mother). The videos for 'Memory Blank' and 'Tin Soldiers', an anti-war track recorded with the support of Tony Benn, were then screened (not Mr Benn’s first foray into the musical scene, by the way. I have a CD featuring his speeches mixed with garage beats if you’re interested). Which all goes to show the depth and diversity of topics covered by Mr Shott. I am pretty much gagging to hear the album.

I also got a quick chance to catch up with Tenny, whose attitude is remarkably down to earth and humble for someone so ridiculously talented (hear that, K-Lash?) He’s off on holiday soon – a well-deserved break I feel.

The only down point of the afternoon was the videos to 'Memory Blank' and 'Tin Soldiers', which I’m pretty gutted to say I don’t feel did justice to the quality of the audio. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t bad: I guess it’s just that when the aural material is that good it’s hard to mirror that on the visual side of things.

Like Aidan said a while ago, if there’s anyone who can bridge the gulf between underground and commercial, it’s 10Shott. If you wanna help put a few more bricks in the bridge, then go and buy the single 'Memory Blank' which is OUT TODAY at This artist deserves to go far. I’ll certainly do everything I can to pave the way, and you should too.


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