Words: Dylan Murphy
Words: Dylan Murphy
Tion Wayne is evolving into one of UK rap and drill’s biggest crossover stars, we’ve highlighted ten tracks that are essential listening for you to get familiar with the Edmonton rapper.
Tion Wayne’s story is one of triumph through adversity. Growing up in Edmonton, London, the no holds barred rapper has gone from stints in jail to rising up the charts without compromising the gritty storytelling that resonated with listeners from day one.
Making a name as a rapper indebted to his lived experience, Tion left no stone unturned in his Wayne’s World mixtape series that saw him move to the crest of a wave of London spitters hopscotching between UK drill, rap and flurry of other sounds at will.
Though listeners will no doubt be familiar with his recent material that’s lit up the charts, it’s important to get an insight into the early releases that showcased an artist with fire in his belly and a determination to make a lasting impact in music.
In no particular order, we’ve curated cuts from across his mixtape series alongside more recent releases to highlight the growth and dexterity of Tion Wayne and to provide a fuller picture of a UK rap staple.
First, we thought we’d kick off things with Tion’s most recent link up with Russ Millions.
‘Body’ cemented the notion that the pair have etched their name in the upper echelons of drill’s hyper-competitive landscape without compromising their sound. It sees Tion and Russ double down on a winning formula that they procured with their internet-breaking remix of ‘Keisha & Becky’ and it feels as though on ‘Body’ the pair have returned to finesse some unfinished business.
Toasting to their success, but keeping their opposition at arm’s length, Tion sends out a warning saying “got more than a mill in savings, but you can still get shaven” before Russ comes through with his trademark flow over an earth-shattering instrumental.
Coupled with nods to Megan The Stallion and their past collaboration, the track keeps one eye on the past and stays true to their origins whilst simultaneously providing the party anthem to soundtrack our post-pandemic glow ups.
Featuring thumping production from Chris Rich and Steel Banglez and ruthless bars from MIST, ‘Deluded’ is a UK rap clash of the titans.
Packed full of relentless energy, the track puts Wayne’s opps in his crosshairs, while the Splinter Cell style visuals add a level of cinematic sheen to a track loaded with adversarial lyricism.
While ‘Options’ sees Tion Wayne slot in with a guest verse rather than providing his own solo work, it’s an important indicator of the range of his musical repertoire. Aligning himself with the wavier and freewheeling energy of NSG, the top ten single sees Wayne let his guard down a little and embrace the liberating energy of a sun-kissed certified summer anthem.
Following his last stint in prison, ‘Home‘ was Tion’s re-introduction back into the music game and the start of a new chapter.
Bubbling instrumentation, a positive outlook and a commitment to forgetting what is in the rear view, it’s the kind of anthem primed for sun-drenched festival stages.
Passing the mic like a hot potato, the remix of ‘Keisha & Becky’ sees Tion Wayne, Russ, Aitch, J, Sav’O & Swarmz follow one after another on the club-ready hit that signalled the gradual movement of drill to the mainstream.
Packed with one liners, its hook has been running laps in our head since its release.
While Tion may owe much of his popularity to his chart crossover hits, a quick dig into his back catalogue will unearth a plethora of other more considered tracks. One such record is ‘Back Then’ featuring a young Dave.
The emotionally-charged anthem is a mindful reflection on harder days and sees the pair spit over evocative keys in what is a snapshot into two artists on the rise.
There’s shades of Kanye’s soul-inflected debut The College Dropout on Tion’s ‘Life In The Ghetto’.
A raw cut, that’s free from the glitz and glamour that frequents his work now, its aspirational energy contrasts the sharper lyrics highlighting the difficulties of trying to stay on the straight and narrow growing up in Edmonton. This vignette into his mindset now feels like the opening scene of a biopic that’s just begun.
Another from the first edition of his Wayne’s World mixtape series, ‘Rider’ is an exercise in vulnerability as Tion lets off the handbrake and spews home truths about wrestling with love and his inner psyche.
There’s something about the intersection of the vocoder, keys and Derouche’s high notes that just hit different on this one too. One for the late night over thinkers.
Caught between the cyclic nature of trapping and trying to make a career in music, ‘Intro’ is a powerful opening sermon on arguably Wayne’s best project. Toeing the line between an intimate confessional and a reflection on his the different experiences that make up his being, Tion spits over haunting keys and claustrophobic percussion on a track that demands considered listening.
‘Me Or The Lifestyle’ is the UK’s downtempo answer to 50 Cent’s ‘21 Questions’. Eavesdropping on Tion’s doubt-ridden internal thoughts, the track is the London rapper dropping back into second gear and letting the waves of uncertainty wash over him.
Additionally, it’s a welcome change of pace from the colder and more intense street anthems.