“I just want people to know that I’m a young guy trying to live out his dream and do everything possible to make that dream happen. I’m an average, regular guy from South London, but at the same time I want it all – and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that happens.”
The undisputed breakout star of 2010, Tinie Tempah has had an incredible year. Few debut artists boast two hit singles, a Glastonbury performance on the Pyramid stage and an appearance on Jonathan Ross. Yet this 21 year-old South Londoner has captivated music fans, celebrities and critics alike in just a matter of months.
Tinie began the year as a newly signed artist in the melee of other musicians hoping to make an impact on the UK music scene. By February, his major label debut single Pass Out had received over 4 million views on YouTube. Three weeks later it hit No.1, and has since had in excess of 11 million views. Its follow-up, Frisky shot straight to No.2 and has been viewed over 8 million times. Combined, both singles have sold upwards of 750,000 copies. Tinie looks set for yet another smash with the forthcoming third single, Written In The Stars.
With Pass Out being the standout track of the summer, Tinie has been booked on every significant stage from Wireless and the Big Chill, to Glastonbury, Ibiza Rocks and Radio 1’s Big Weekend. In May, Damon Albarn invited Tinie to join him on Jonathan Ross to perform with Gorillaz, while in June Snoop Dogg, who did a remix of Pass Out, asked Tinie to join him on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. He’s won celebrity fans in the form of Prince Harry and P. Diddy – who enlisted Tinie for the remix of his latest single Hello, Good Morning – while Paris Hilton booked the rapper for a private party in Ibiza. Amongst all the stars, celebrities, sales and accolades however, Tinie’s picks his 2010 highlight as something a little more lowkey. “I went back to my old school recently for the first time since getting my results. All the kids and teachers came out of the classes – it was pandemonium. Then they took me to a new part of the school and guess what was there? A brand new studio opened in my name. I was so humbled to see that.”
Having toured with Jay-Z, Chase & Status, Rihanna and Mr. Hudson, Tinie recently announced his own headline tour, with guest Chiddy Bang and Bluey Robinson, which opens in October. The preceding week, Tinie will release his highly-anticipated debut album, Disc-Overy.
Recorded over the last 11 months in North London, South London and Sweden, the album is an incredibly accomplished piece of work. As well as highlighting the finer things in life that success can offer, Tinie details the lows of fame and fortune, as well as offering a candid insight into his childhood growing up in south London. “On every single song you’ll get a line that reveals what life was, and is, like for me. I recorded a lot of it after Pass Out went to No.1, so that gave me a chance to reflect on life before and after achieving success. When I’m in the studio, it’s just me in my tracksuit, a bottle of water and my thoughts. Going to No.1 gave me a chance to consider how far I’ve come, but also how far I intend to go.”
An incredibly confident debut, Disc-Overy certifies Tinie’s absolute ability to achieve worldwide success. With references to Pringles, Narnia and Henry Hoovers, the album is distinctly and proudly British, while mentions of Kelly Clarkson and The Hills open Tinie to an international audience. With Tinie already on the US radar thanks to remixes with Diddy and Snoop, Disc-Overy reasserts his global appeal by offering inventive production and a range of rhymes that are in turn frank and funny. The diverse and imaginative album features collaborations with Ellie Goulding and Kelly Rowland and production from Labrinth (Pass Out, Frisky), newcomer Ishi, Al Shux (Jay-Z’s Empire State Of Mind) and Naughty Boy (Chipmunk, Wiley), as well as renowned dance producers Swedish House Mafia.
Already renowned for his daring musical choices, Pass Out is the single that not only put Tinie on the map, but also altered the path of UK urban music in 2010. Tinie, and Pass Out’s producer Labrinth, proved you could make pop that was both commercial yet credible, appealing to fans of all ages without watering down their sound. “People are interested in who we are and where we come from, so lets be proud of that and make music that represents us properly,” Tinie explains of the song that bought tempo-twisting, D&B-fusion to the masses.
The other 11 tracks on Disc-Overy continue this adventurous attitude. “If you’ve heard Pass Out and Frisky and think you know what to expect, you’re wrong,” Tinie points out of the assorted array of production.
Simply Unstoppable underscores Tinie’s grime roots, Swedish House Mafia have created an undeniable dancefloor anthem in the form of Miami 2 Ibiza, while Naughty Boy delivers a deliciously brooding pop number Let Go, featuring Emile Sande. One of Tinie’s personal favourites, the laidback Snap talks about chronicling life photographically, including “My mum and dad’s wedding picture, which is my favourite photo in the world”, while Wonderman features Ellie Goulding and is produced by Labrinth. “I wanted this album to be really raw, not only in terms of the production but the guests. I was only interested in working with people I really respect and who I’m a fan of. I met Ellie very early on, we swapped numbers and after that we started living very parallel worlds; the same festivals, interviews and so on. It made total sense to have her on the album.”
Tinie’s latest single, Written In The Stars, produced by Swedish powerhouse Ishi, details the 21 year-old’s past, present and future ambitions. “I’m trying to live the dream and other people can do the same if they put their mind to it. That’s what the song is about. You can do everything I’ve done, if you’re determined and driven enough.” Featuring the incredible vocals of Boston newcomer Eric Turner, the epic, synth-led single features crisp drums, razor-sharp guitars and a considered message delivered in Tinie’s uniquely credible style. “I used to be the kid that no-one cared about, that’s why you have to keep screaming till they hear you out,” raps Tinie.
He may be distinctive in his delivery and creative in his approach to the business of music, yet the charismatic rapper’s own background is much like the average kid in the UK. “I’ve never tried to be anything than what I am. I was well bought up, I liked school, I liked learning, I’m well educated, I’m well spoken,” Tinie reflects. His mum, and dad were keen to keep their kids away from trouble, moving the family from Peckham to Plumstead when Tinie was 11. It’s thanks to his capital city upbringing that Tinie has been able to achieve all he has. “London is one of the only places in the world where you can live in a council block and see a beautiful semi-detached house across the street. Growing up around that was inspirational, it kept me motivated.” Yet, despite success on the underground, few would have predicted just how hugely successful Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu (Jr.) would become.
Since signing, he has accomplished more than anyone might have imagined – yet for this driven young man, it’s clearly just the beginning of an already incredible career. With a long-term goal in mind, Tinie is far from a one-hit wonder. This pragmatic, prudent MC is mindful of the decisions he makes, and has big plans for both himself, and his brand, Disturbing London.
“I really want people to get this album, I want them to listen to it as a whole and see that not all the tracks are chart-driven. I really wanted to give people some ‘Tinie Time’ for an hour,” he insists. “I want people to see this is not a joke to me; now I’m here and I’ve been given the opportunity, I’m not messing around. I’m looking to take my tour, the videos, the music, everything, completely beyond what you can fathom. It’s never just another day in the life of Tinie; I’ve got a lot to do and you can bet on the fact that I’ll do it.”
Disc-Overy is out 4 October, 2011..