There isn’t a lot in contemporary music that Labrinth can’t do. The London-based artist is a singer, rapper, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer who has enjoyed success as a solo artist while also working alongside such stars as the Weeknd, Ed Sheeran, and Sia. Although he has released only two solo albums, Electronic Earth (2012) and Imagination & the Misfit Kid (2019), he has regularly appeared near or at the top of the U.K. singles chart since the dawn of the 2010s, whether as a featured artist (Tinie Tempah’s “Frisky”), headliner (including the number one hit “Beneath Your Beautiful”), or group member (LSD’s “Thunderclouds”). This work has been supplemented with original music for television, specifically the HBO series Euphoria.
Born Timothy McKenzie, the London-based Labrinth first emerged as a triple-threat artist in 2008 when he wrote, produced, and sang on rapper Master Shortie’s 2008 track “Dead End.” A year later he was working with fellow U.K. artists Tinchy Stryder and Chipmunk, but it was 2010 when he really broke, beginning with his guest spot on Tinie Tempah’s smash hit “Frisky.” His remix of Gorillaz’s “Stylo” landed that same year, and soon labels were offering Labrinth behind-the-scenes songwriting and production deals.
But Simon Cowell, the music mogul behind American Idol and The X Factor, saw it differently. Early in the summer it was announced that Cowell had signed Labrinth as an artist to his Syco imprint, making him the first act in six years to be signed to the label without taking part in one of Cowell’s talent shows. Labrinth’s debut single for the label, “Let the Sun Shine,” arrived that August and reached number three on the U.K. pop chart. At the beginning of 2011, Labrinth started work on his debut album. Juggling production work for the likes of Ms. Dynamite and working on the BBC Children in Need’s 2011 charity single “Teardrop,” the first new material from Labrinth saw the light of day in October 2011. The single “Earthquake” (a collaboration with Tinie Tempah), debuted on the U.K. singles chart at number two.
Labrinth’s debut album, Electronic Earth, was released sixth months later. It featured the previous hits and three additional smash singles, including the chart-topping “Beneath Your Beautiful,” a collaboration with Emeli Sandé. Labrinth soon began work on a follow-up, but while numerous singles appeared from the album’s sessions, including “Let It Be” (number 11, U.K. pop) and “Jealous” (number seven, U.K. pop), the full-length has yet to appear after missing several rescheduled release dates. However, Labrinth stayed in the public eye with guest appearances on singles by Tinie Tempah (“Lover Not a Fighter”), Sigma (“Higher”), and the Weeknd (“Losers”). Labrinth also remained in demand as a producer for the likes of the Weeknd (the Grammy-nominated Beauty Behind the Madness, as well as Starboy), Ed Sheeran (÷), and Noah Cyrus (“Again”).
Additional Labrinth solo singles were issued from 2017 to mid-2019. More significantly during this period, he formed the pop trio LSD with Sia and Diplo, issuing singles including “Genius,” “Audio,” and the hit “Thunderclouds,” a Top 20 U.K. entry that also went Top Five in France. These singles were gathered on the full-length Labrinth, Sia & Diplo Present LSD. Later in 2019, Labrinth took on a new role when he provided the original score for the HBO series Euphoria, which included the hit single “All for Us.” By the end of the year, he’d released the proper follow-up to Electronic Earth, Imagination & the Misfit Kid. ~ David Jeffries