Album Review: Kate Tempest – Let Them Eat Chaos

By on Thursday, 27th October 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Kate Tempest Let Them Eat Chaos album coverRapper, poet and playwright Kate Tempest is a force of nature to be reckoned with. In 2013, Tempest won the Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry, the youngest-ever recipient of the award for her performance piece ‘Brand New Ancients’. She was branded by poet Ian McMillan as someone “who would be leading our national cultural conversations for years to come”. Her sensational first album, 2014’s ‘Everybody Down’, was also nominated for a Mercury Prize. Her latest offering ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’ does exactly that by providing a raw and honest social commentary on modern life.

Similar in nature to her first album, ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’ is also a concept album. She takes us on a compelling journey through the lives of seven fictional characters who are each awake at 4:18 in the morning, and we are introduced to the issues defining their lives. Throughout the album, it is very easy to become involved with each of the characters who, while living separate lives and unknown to each other, are intrinsically linked. Each of the tenants tales are drawn together to create a bigger picture of how issues such migration, drugs and alienation affect us all. Despite being separated by walls, floors and buildings they are all connected by a shared fate. Tempest’s fictional narratives are accompanied by electronic music while lyrically, she seamlessly mixes together rap and performance poetry.

Despite it being a few years since her last musical offering, Tempest was certainly busy in between times. The release of her book ‘The Bricks That Built the Houses’ and her poetry collection ‘Hold Your Own’ meant that although Tempest was not actively creating music, her attentions were not taken away from social conscience. There are several recurring themes throughout the album, especially the prominence of drugs. On tracks such as ‘Ketamine for Breakfast’, we hear the story of Gemma contemplating her younger years that were blighted by drug use. Her lyrics here are emphatic and perhaps contain moments of truth. Rapping “My future is bright, but my past is tryna ruin me” is a devastatingly poignant sentiment of modern life and class divide,. and there is a restlessness and urgency to the chosen rhythm.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym3iGD7uNn8[/youtube]

In times of such uncertainty, especially for young people in the UK post-Brexit, Tempest’s brutal honesty can be refreshing. Exposing modern truths of gentrification in London, ‘Perfect Coffee’ tells the tale of tenant Zoe as she packs her life into boxes. The reality, where the poorest of communities are being forced out of their homes and council flats are being exploited into million pound rentals, is harrowing: “The squats we used to party in are the flats we can’t afford”. It is a despairing portrayal of what London has become to represent: corrupt with greed, content in alienating the most vulnerable of people.

‘Europe is Lost’ is particularly poignant, with Tempest moving seamlessly through the song with fury. Each topic she touches on is more relevant than the last, speaking about politicians, oil spills and poverty. Barely stopping to take a breath, there is an anger to her delivery with cutting lyrics: “We have learnt nothing from history, the people are dead in their lifetimes dazed by the shine of the streets. Look the traffic is still moving, the system too slick to stop working, business is good. There’s bands every night in the pubs and there is two for one drinks in the clubs and we scrubbed up well “. It is a stark reminder how we, while all aware, choose to ignore what is going on around us in favour of easy and empty living.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOXXdYtZSbQ[/youtube]

The final song on the album ‘Tunnel Vision’ is a reflective musing by Tempest. The protagonists on each of the songs who were once strangers all become tied together in a shared epiphany of their surroundings. The notion of this album being commercially successful is a hard sell, considering it is an amalgamation of hip-hop and poetry. But the content Tempest is so passionately rapping about is so relevant and relatable. Her writing is extremely provocative and powerful and can stir quite a lot of emotion when listening to it. The album as a whole, then, is truly excellent as both a musical entity and critique of modern society.

8.5/10

‘Let Them Eat Chaos’, Kate Tempest’s second album is out now through Fiction Records. For more of TGTF’s coverage on Tempest, go here.

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