Tyson S.T - SYBA Review

Tyson S.T is a well-known name in Centurion and Pretoria. He’s become a staple amongst the up-and-coming up Hip-Hop scene. Tyson has always been widely respected among his contemporaries for his abilities as a lyricist and even other aspects of his music (such as his flow). Although, while being widely respected, Tyson hasn't always been given the credit that he deserves. Despite making music for a few years, he hasn't had a project that he's properly put out there (if you exclude his now previously removed mixtape and his contributions towards the various tapes made by his former collective, "Slumprine"). With his latest EP, "SYBA", we finally get an opportunity to look at Tyson under a microscope. The attention is all on him.

The EP opens up with "This Side". The song carries a sense of eeriness, signified by the use of piano chords. Tyson opens up with his signature raspy voice performing the hook to an ever growing instrumental. Noticeably, unlike his prior consistent assertions to illustrate his rapping ability, Tyson differentiates himself more. For example, we’re used to his dark and aggressive cadence but here, he switches to a high pitched voice, which we haven't seen him use before. This voice and adlibs are very playful and they match the charismatic nature of his lyrics. The manner in which he speaks about himself alongside his lifestyle carries across his confidence. He exerts such conviction that he manages to make his competition seem frail in comparison. His delivery also adds onto his sense of certainty, as he piles up quotable lines. Overall, the song is a solid opener, which tells us a bit about Tyson's character.

"That little girl that you claim that you play cuddle me and we laughing about ya"

"You wanna prove to your boys that you're hard but you all close your eyes in the shower!"

The second track is "And Then Came The Snakes…". This track is split into two parts. The production on both parts is vibrant with a heavy use of the bass and hi-hats which keep it interesting. 

The first half sees Tyson repeating three refrains, but the one that catches my attention most, "Lord pray two horns don't catch me I stay with foes". The reference captures the idea of snakes through the use of "foes". While the use of "two horns" alludes to the devil/evil alongside Tyson's lifetime fear of being dealt with by the police. The second half comes along with a beautiful beat transition, emphasized by glorious synths. It's fucking beautiful. The transition sees Tyson enter with a sense of introspection.

"I let that shit pass me by, I'm only distant with time."

"And these the problems we bear. My hands bloody and nervous, I've been a product of sin."

Amidst of his verse, Tyson manages to maintain the shortened feeling of the track, ending it off with another refrain, "Why so many snakes in the service, nigga why don't you talk same when in person". Another dope track and a good introduction to the project.

The follow-up is "Offside Goal". The production is hard as fuck. Doou$hii and Al were off their shit. This is a banger. The production is less dependent on the bass, as it's more reliant on its melody. That allows Tyson to show his strength. His delivery and cadence already carries across self-confidence. He matches that with quotables on quotables.

"Donuts in a Porsche over ever having a wedding ring. I might be a dick but I'm many things.

"Niggas wanna be killers and clappers, real trappers, but still got Spider-Man sheets all on their mattress. Real killers in my family raptures, when the offside line gets crossed, we fix backwards."

Hoes still tryna get choked like Bart Simpson!"

"God got me on the phone, I'm like LISTEN."

Man, this nigga knows he’s nice. You can tell. The flows are clean and the lyrics are Instagram worthy. There’s humour in his rhymes and that ultimately allows the listener to engage more with his personality and music. The song is truly enjoyable. Tyson hasn't come to play with anybody and he brings bars on top of bars.

Next is "On Bobby" featuring SKYFFA. SKYFFA is a well-known collaborator with Tyson. The two have plenty of chemistry, as they’ve already illustrated through their joint efforts as part of Slumprine (prior to the group's split). Once again, the production is consistent. The production gives them a solid foundation. SKYFFA performs the hook with a lot of clever references to Bobby Shmurda. He exemplifies being cool, calm and collected. He has fun with the hook but it sounds so effortless and clean. Tyson doesn't disappoint on the verse either, as he comes through in a really aggressive manner, in comparison to the previous songs. High rhyme density, flow switches and dope wordplay.

"S.T.A.T.S" begins. There’s plenty of tension in the piano chards. Prior to the introduction of hi-hats and sinister bass to resolve it, the instrumental starts off with a noise similar to that of a faucet dripping with water. Tyson didn’t even let the beat rest. He enters with clear destruction in mind. A double time flow sees a brilliant hook coined. This one is for Manchester United fans. Actually, this is just for football lovers.

"Martial black glove business, my backdrop different, my stats got digits

There’s something intricate about how Tyson approached this project. While he’s always been lyrically impressive, his rhymes have now created a sense of relatability and they’re more palatable to the listeners ears. As such, they’re a lot more memorable. The verses see Tyson make continuous sporting references, such as Kobe's 81 points against the Raptors. However, Tyson also speaks about many of his aspirations in this song. He speaks about what he wants to achieve in music, life and what he's learnt from his current position in life.

"I've learnt a lot from my struggle at nine to five, I won’t splurge on it if I can’t cop it twice. Every day is a fight for my mother’s time, cause my father stretched hands to push fear in my mind. If I don’t cop a crib before twenty-five. If I don’t earn from this, I’ll be doing crime. If I don’t storm your TV and speak on my loved ones, that leave us then, please leave me rather die."

The direction he takes is quite interesting. He comes off as someone who's hungry for success and knows that they can achieve it, rather than someone who seems to be chasing a dream. Despite the subject matter, his confidence in himself doesn't take a knock. Elite track.

The penultimate track, "Lil Snake (Interlude)" featuring another elite lyricist in Wolph Gnarly. Wolph has striking similarities to Jay Electronica. He dropped god level shit, disappeared and he’s been selling us dreams about a project since. Regardless, the song is just enticing because it’s two incredible lyricists sparring. Amazing production, it just screams Doou$hii and Al. The distinctiveness in production is alluring. The song sees Tyson drop a nice hook before Wolph completely takes over. I hate to admit it but shit, Tyson got washed. Wolph’s display is brilliant. The flow, cadence, delivery and lyrical ability leaves you mesmerized. There's a point in the track where Wolph synchronised with the production and comes off hungry throughout with arguably one of the best verses on the EP. Although Wolph may have gotten the better of Tyson, needless to say – that doesn’t mean Tyson wasn’t good. Tyson contrasts Wolph’s flow with a double time flow which sounds crazy on the beat switches. Tyson’s verse is short but it’s great. This song is a warning shot to the rest of Pretoria.

And finally, the EP closes off with its most emotional and vulnerable song in "Send My Love". It makes sense why it would be the longest track too. The instrumental feels sombre and drenched in melancholy. It’s also has the most immaculate production on the project. The song may carry some subliminal lines aimed at the industry but the main focus of the song sees Tyson reflecting on the losses he's suffered in his life. These range from love to music to people (especially those he's lost as a result of death). Every line tells a story and touches the soul.

"We had to face all of our troubles in silence then had to bury our brother."

Can that feeling come again? I let the Lord cry.”

Rest in Peace to those not with us in the room now… I need you around.

Vulnerability is something many rappers struggle with and his ability to express his emotions so candidly makes the music worthwhile. The song transitions as Tyson (and Doou$hii’s background vocals) harmonize with the soulful second half. It's a beautiful closer to the album.

All in all, "SYBA" is one of the best records to come out of the country (South Africa) in 2019. Tyson S.T manages to maintain a consistency and interest throughout, holding his own lyrical while not sacrificing the appeal of good hooks and replay value. The production on here is excellent throughout, for which, Doou$hii and Al $ deserve a special mention as they worked on the production found here. The only flaw I might be able to pick out is that Tyson could try to further his subject matter, but honestly, as long as it maintains its interest then there's really no need (as seen with the likes of Pusha T/Freddie Gibbs for example).

Grading: Indoor.

Project links:

Apple Music / Spotify / Google / Deezer / Amazon / Tidal / Pandora / Napster

Written by: Ipeleng Thobejane (@insightThobe | Twitter)
Edited by: Dithekgo Mogadime (@Dithekgom | Twitter)

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1 comment

  • Dude ipeleng I’m so proud of you this article is written to perfection.


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