HERITAGE: In Memory Of UK Hip-Hop Pioneer Ty, Revisit His Motivational Anthem "Closer" (2006)

HERITAGE: In Memory Of UK Hip-Hop Pioneer Ty, Revisit His Motivational Anthem "Closer" (2006)

May 08, 2020

The mounting tragedies of 2020 just keep piling up. Last night, the terrible news was broken that UK hip-hop pioneer and legend Ty, aka Ben Chijioke, has tragically passed away. Current reports suggest that the 47-year-old died after contracting COVID-19.

Synonymous with what's now known as 'the Channel U era', Ty was a true originator and played an enormous role in sculpting the identity of British rap and hip-hop, balancing that with his proud Nigerian heritage and creating unforgettable anthems with real longevity along the way.

Ty's extensive back catalogue stretched back to the late '90s and included five studio albums, a compilation of edits, and a towering list of singles. All but two of those albums came via Ninja Tune's hip-hop imprint Big Dada, which also played host to releases from Roots Manuva, Wiley, Jammer, Tre Mission and many more.

In honour of his memory, we decided to look back at his downright perfect hit "Closer", a thoughtful slice of conscious-tinged hip-hop with a motivational edge. He was joined in the studio by long-time friend and collaborator Drew Horley with whom he co-produced that irresistibly bouncy beat, as well as De La Soul's DJ Maseo who supplied the hook.

"Closer" came from the 2006 album of the same name and earned pretty much unanimous praise from fans, peers and critics alike. At the time, The Guardian described it as "low on braggadocio and high on ambition," adding that his US counterparts could learn a few things from him.

Rest in power, king.