UK emcee Kate Tempest has earned praise from hip-hop mainstays like Chuck D and Roots Manuva, but her biggest accolades reside in the literary realm. Her poetry has been featured by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the BBC; her “Brand New Ancients” spoken word tour won last year’s prestigious Ted Hughes award; and she recently published her play Wasted through Bloomsbury.
Still, Tempest considers herself a rapper first and foremost, as it’s where she began her wordsmithing ways. At age 16, she would rap for strangers on the bus and hop on the mic during late-night raves. In 2011, she released Balance, her first album with the hip-hop/funk crossover outfit Sound of Rum. The album led to collaborations with the likes of Sinéad O’Connor and Bastille, as well as an extensive tour opening for Billy Bragg. Now, she’s making her solo emcee debut with Everybody Down, due out May 20th via Big Dada.
Her latest track, “A Hammer”, showcases Tempest’s stinging, poetic prowess and knack for damning lyricism. Producer Dan Carey (Bats for Lashes, M.I.A.) matches Tempest’s sinister flow with an equally venomous beat, rumbling ominously as Tempest spits acerbic lines like “He had a laugh like a car crash/eyes like potholes in tarmac”. It’s an industrial-rap scorcher that places Tempest somewhere between Nine Inch Nails and MF Doom.
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