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The multiple award-winning, chart-topping, heart-stopping, leading breakout start of 2010 joined SQ for a lengthy discussion on all the things that made the last year oh so successful!
After years of slogging away on the underground circuit, Tinie Tempah tore up the rulebook in 2010 and stepped up to long-awaited mainstream attention and mass critical acclaim with a thumping debut album that has seen him shake off inferior newcomers to be the biggest breakthrough star of the year.
After signing with Parlophone records at the back end of 2009, the stage was set for Tinie to deliver in a big way. No one was ready for anything this big though. With only modest hype and a debut video that was shot on a paltry budget, he became the newest crossover star with one of the fastest-selling singles of the year.
Surely being swung to superstardom so sharply would mean a gross lifestyle change?
“The biggest change quite possibly was that I’ve moved out from my mum! I do miss her cooking, I’m not gonna lie! But it’s nice to be able to come home and chill alone. Otherwise, after the first single I’ve just been on the road a lot, hitting new countries every week, meeting new people and performing to new audiences. It’s been absolutely incredible.”
We’ve got Ellie Goulding, Kelly Rowland, Emelie Sande & Swedish House Mafia. We’ve actually done some work with Luke Steele from Empire of the Sun as well. It’s madly diverse.
Being consistently on tour is one thing that he’s had to adapt to. Post-Pass Out, Tinie has opened for and played with Rihanna, Tinchy Stryder and Pixie Lott. Not forgetting that he’s only just finished his first ever headline tour (with another to follow next year), there’s not been much time for home comforts.
The non-stop touring and linking has meant Tinie’s been able to build solid bridges with acts from all over the globe and it has paid dividends on his debut album. The featured artists on the album are solid musical heavyweights, but it’s not taken away from the unique style and energy that runs all the way through Disc-Overy, as Tinie is quick to establish.
“We’ve got Ellie Goulding, Kelly Rowland, Emelie Sande & Swedish House Mafia. We’ve actually done some work with Luke Steele from Empire of the Sun as well. It’s madly diverse. There isn’t much of a general direction with the record, it’s just me going for it! I want to let people know a little bit about me, where I come from and where I’m going. This album just celebrates our generation a little bit. There are so many cool things going on in the time and space we’re in right now.”
Cool is something that the boy from Peckham very much embodies. With his big specs, slim fitted trousers and vivid graphic tees, Tinie’s sporting a look that’s seen him develop into a fixed feature in style guides up and down the country.
To be quite honest I’m young, single and loving it. I’m enjoying life man. I’m living my dream and I’m not ready to be tied down just yet!
It’s becoming a Hip-Hop cliché to witness successful rappers opening their own fashion lines in a bid to spread their brand across more than just record shelves. It’s for good reason too. Jay-Z and Tinchy Stryder make huge money from each of their own respective lines and don’t be surprised to see Tinie being one of many to follow suit.
“Yeah it is definitely something we’d look in to. Not completely in the same way as previous acts have done it, but we’ve actually started setting up our own brand; “Disturbing London”, keep an eye out for that in the near future.”
To put it simply, Tinie Tempah is an artist that looks good. He rocks a fresh, contemporary look that’s perfect for tabloid gossip columns. Being romantically linked with many B-List fame hungry celebs is a standard thing for someone of Tinie’s stature. For now though, it seems gossip is simply nothing more than just that.
“To be quite honest I’m young, single and loving it. I’m enjoying life man. I’m living my dream and I’m not ready to be tied down just yet!”
The opposite sex isn’t the only thing that Tinie has been attracting. With three top 2 singles in 2010, it’s no secret that Tempah has extensively added to his fan base. The music he’s making now is a far cry from the grime underground sound with which he was once associated but both he, and perhaps more importantly, his original fans feel he’s still the same artist they began to appreciate with his early mixtapes.
“When I’m in the studio I never make a track and think about the target audience as such. I never calculate to that expense. I just try and make the best music I can and have fun with it. If you listen to my music you can’t really pinpoint an exact audience, because that doesn’t correlate with the people that come to my shows. My audience runs across the spectrum…good music just appeals to people.”
Being an independent artist for a long time I wasn’t worried about it, most of my songs were for free anyway…so the more people that heard it the better.
The flashpoint of dispute in the music industry remains Illegal Downloads. With an estimated 20% of young people still unsure of why or if this is such a problem, how does a bright artist spearheading the next wave of fresh British talent feel about the topic?
“Being an independent artist for a long time I wasn’t worried about it, most of my songs were for free anyway…so the more people that heard it the better. When you make the transition to a signed artist you realise that people need to buy your product or really you can’t live.”
It’s controversial. There is the argument that musicians make enough money without record sales even being part of the equation but Tinie is keen to find a fair balance on what will remain a point of intensely divergent views.
“Ultimately I make my music to be sold & if you love music and love me as an artist you have to invest in it. But I will always put out free tracks as an incentive; people just need to feel like they’re getting value for money.”
His appreciation for fans is undeniable. A sold-out UK wide tour at the back end of 2010 has shown just how far he’s come in such a short space of time. He’s still incredibly humble, and the love of fans is not something he’ll overlook in a hurry.
“I couldn’t ask for any more! I want to try and message everyone back on twitter just to say thanks for the mad support…maybe one day I can get round to it!”
We’ll all be waiting in earnest to find out what’s written in the stars for Tinie Tempah, the undisputed leading light of the year.
Illustration: Tom Mac