Brooklyn pop-rapper Theophilus London made a noticeable splash in recent months with his sugary, stylised hip hop, especially as featured in February’s breakthrough debut EP, Lover’s Holiday. A somewhat overly-laid-back flow aside, the production was lush, spacious, and effortlessly catchy, combining a keen pop sensibility with elements of more conventional hip hop, à la early LL Cool J. The attractive mix was typified by his pulsating, seductive collaboration with Solange Knowles, ‘Flying Overseas’, fleshed out with copious bass, a tense high hat shuffle, and sung hooks courtesy of both artists.
Lover’s Holiday and its associated singles rightly generated a large dose of hype for Timez Are Weird These Days, London’s first full-length effort. The essentials of the formula remain the same, but London missteps somewhat, borrowing not only the candied synths of radio pop but also its vacuous lyricism. The quintessential cocksure tropes of brazen hip hop are all here – girls, money, cars – but sound even emptier when boiled down into simplistic pop hooks. We are subjected to a full twelve lines of “Last name London, the first name Theophilus, Theophilus, Theophilus” in ‘Last Name London’: that’s thirty-six Theophiluses. He continues to repeat the obvious on ‘Love is Real’, itself complete with auto-tune and an absurdly melodramatic bridge: “Try to make the most of this. Don’t throw it all away. She had to change her number twice, and no time to count the days.” Oh dear.
Ultimately, the best material on Timez is lifted from the EP: ‘Flying Overseas’ regrettably doesn’t appear, but Timez does include the well-crafted ‘Why Even Try’ (an excellent example of London’s casual flow at its best), and the glitch-hop single ‘Girls Girls $’, which successfully (and hilariously) reduces hip hop’s chief obsessions to mere shouted slogans. Those not blessed with as much imagined cash as London, then, might do well to avoid the filler of Timez, and opt instead for this year’s far sleeker Lover’s Holiday EP.