Tinie Tempah

“I think about things globally in everything I do”
This is an artist like no other right now. With roots in the London grime scene, Tinie finds himself staring at the stars, heading their way on his stratospheric rise to the top. Ever since his debut single ‘Pass Out’ went straight to Number One earlier this year the future has been golden for Tinie. It’s only now, on the eve of his debut album release, that the Peckham-born rapper can show his full potential. Few could argue against his genrestraddling appeal and handsome good looks, though, surprisingly, things haven’t always been so peachy for him.

First emerging in 2006, Tinie made his name on the underground with tracks such as the MIA-sampling ‘Hot Like This’ and grime anthem ‘Wifey’. However, it wasn’t just his friends and peers that Tinie wanted to impress; his scope spans wider than that, with one listen to his album ‘Disc-Overy’ showing that desire to breakout and take things world wide. Speaking to Clash, Tinie is refreshingly open about his wait: “I always wanted my shot and my opportunity but I’m glad that I waited and matured as a person along the way,” he says.

“I moved to a really nice area when I was twelve and I had a good upbringing. So my take on things has always been quite lateral, even when I was recording in my bedroom. I think about things globally in everything I do, from the way I write music to the way I dress. I present modern British culture to the rest of the world,” he claims.

This year has seen Tinie grace the top five with two more singles as well as supporting Rihanna on tour and taking the summer festival season by storm. All this from a man who, just two years ago, was making music in his bedroom and putting homemade videos on YouTube. “I saw a lot of my friends progressing a lot quicker than me and it made me snap out of the bubble I was living in and develop,” explains the ambitious star.

Teaming his down-to-earth, observational lyrics with a glamorous American swagger he picked up from studying Kanye West, Tinie creates a world that is relatable but fresh and never dull. He’s worked with Damon Albarn on a Gorillaz remix and performed with Snoop Dogg at this year’s Glastonbury, so has his fair share of A-list approval too. “Snoop told me to relax more than anything. He gave me a lot of great advice,” claims Tinie.

Street smart as well as book smart, Tinie pokes fun at himself regularly, including in his first hit ‘Pass Out’ with the claim that he has so many clothes he keeps some at his Aunt’s house. However that’s not quite the case any more. “I finally managed to buy myself a flat so now I’ve got lots of room for my clothes!” he jokes. Something tells us he might need to upgrade again once the platinum discs start coming his way.

Words by David Renshaw
Photography by Ben Cook
Styling by Rose Forde
Art Direction by Paul Sethi
Styling Assistants by Camilla Felici and Tom Baxendale
Thanks to TIGI Studios

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