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Jamie T

The one-man ARCTIC MONKEY and an obvious musical link between Mike Skinner (The STREETS), PETE DOHERTY and JAKE “Lightning Bolt” BUGG, South Londoner JAMIE T is a punk rapper with a penchant for a tongue-in-cheek trail of expletives.
Born Jamie Alexander Treays, 8 January 1986, Wimbledon, teenage T was raised in the echoing multicultural sounds of the city such as The CLASH, The SPECIALS and The LIBERTINES. Initially discarding the guitar for the bass to accompanying his indie-hip hop mantras of life’s big playground, juvenile JAMIE T – looking as if he’d just picked up an award for Billy Elliott – dispatched his debut 7-inch, `Selfish Sons’ (for Pacemaker Records) in November 2005. Airplay for `Salvador’ (and its accompanying “Betty & The Selfish Sons” EP) laid the foundations for a major move to Virgin Records. Opening gambit `Sheila’ was a cheeky laddish introduction to a British audience in July ‘06, although it took a re-issue nearly a year down the line to garner a Top 20 place, by which time `If You Got The Money’ and `Calm Down Dearest’ had already achieved chart status. All intricate corner pieces of the jigsaw that made up the young man’s debut Top 5 set, PANIC PREVENTION (2007) {*8} – a Mercury Prize nomination – cockney rebel JAMIE T was the toast of a disaffected youth; `Brand New Bass Guitar’ was in stark contrast to name-check numbers `Ike & Tina’ and the 6-minute `Alicia Quays’.
In no hurry to expand on his fist-pumping flagship debut, it was late summer 2009 when JAMIE T stirred again. KINGS & QUEENS {*7} almost gate-crashed the No.1 spot, while his decidedly street-smart tongue-twisters served up three singles/EPs, `Sticks ‘n’ Stones’, the Pliers-less `Chaka Demus’ and the non-charting `The Man’s Machine’. Sampling JOAN BAEZ’s `Queen Of Hearts’ track from way back, the un-funky hip hop `Earth, Wind & Fire’ (co-penned with co-producer Ben Coupland), showed JT was ready to express himself in other directions.
If two and a bit years had been long-time-suffering for his legion of young fans, then five might’ve been pushing it a tad far. Despite those wilderness years, it’d be a mature JAMIE T that cracked the Top 5 again with third album CARRY ON THE GRUDGE (2014) {*8}. The download singles charts fiasco had put paid to any big “official” hit, but in sole Top 40 breaker `Zombie’ (complete with monster-mask video), the 28 year-old secured his most commercial, festival-bopping track so far; he and trusty electric guitar was a favourite at Glastonbury, T In The Park, et al. Augmented by producer Cenzo Townshend, troubadour JT’s hook-line razor-sharp wit was conspicuous on `Rabbit Hole’, `Don’t You Find’, `Peter’ and `They Told Me It Rained’.
Over the years, and more recently on 2015’s `Magnolia Melancholia’ EP (a la BRAN VAN 3000’s `Mama Don’t Smoke’ and The REPLACEMENTS’ `Bastards Of Young’), JAMIE T had attempted a handful of B-side cover versions, including SPRINGSTEEN’s `Atlantic City’.
Running up his fourth consecutive Top 5 album a la 2016’s genre-bending TRICK {*8}, the multi-faceted JAMIE T was flying the flag for British punk-fuelled pop music. An observant chap in his quest to paint his nation as it truly is/was, and championed through the eyes and ears of today’s urban youth (Jamie was now 30!), one really can’t pick out a bad track on the album; despite the Independent UK rag lambasting the (2/5!) record for being “retrograde”. Wow.
Of course, there were question marks next to the “Lost In The Supermarket” appeal of The CLASH-cloned `Tescoland’, but Jamie could be forgiven for adoring his idols to this extent. Whether he was raging against the machine on his `Tinfoil Boy’ was another foible, but there was no other harder-edged pop around for the download generation to press-play without getting their head battered by maniacal metal. Versatile and living by his own “La Vida Loca” standards (not!), the tongue-twisting `Drone Strike’ (listen out world!) was the night to the day of the ARCTIC MONKEYS-like `Power Of Men’. Ditto `Joan Of Arc’. As relevent to his top-trump troops than recent Mercury Prize winner SKEPTA was to his hip hop posse, `Police Tapes’ was another prime example of how JAMIE T had shape-shifted young music into his own ‘hood. As a singer-songwriter in these world-weary days of disaffected and doleful youth, JAMIE T’s `Sign Of The Times’ sparked an anthem for everybody still with a modicum of hope. He stands alone where others fear to tread.
© MC Strong/MCS Jul2015-Sep2016

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