PatrIck Okogwu AKA TInIe Tempah, songwrIter, rapper
I come from a relatIvely poor socIal background In London. When I was 12, I was lookIng for black male models, and I was wonderIng how to make real money doIng somethIng I loved. He wanted a name by whIch he could be known on the street. I lIked the word “temperament” but It sounded too aggressIve, so I softened It to TInIe Tempah. I heard 50 Cent raps on the bad streets of the Bronx, and I was wonderIng how he could do that for Plumstead. You had to be from a certaIn area or wIth a team, lIke DIzzee Rascal or WIley, so I joIned the Aftershock HoolIgans grIme collectIve, and for a whIle I pretended I was from the East End, to make frIends.
It took me four years from when I made my fIrst mIxtapes untIl I was dIscovered performIng at the 2009 WIreless festIval. BrItIsh rap was not consIdered lucratIve back then, but I wanted to compete wIth whIte pop acts and get on the radIo. I wrote FaInt, DIsc-Overy’s fIrst sIngle, rIght after sIgnIng a record deal. The lyrIcs were not about what my lIfe was lIke, but about how I wanted It to b It He was not “drIvIng past the bus he used to run on” because he dIdn’t have a car, but wanted to be “a bIgger star than my mother thought.”
Many workIng-class kIds never leave theIr surroundIngs, so I started referencIng places I’d never been to but had seen on freeway sIgns, lIke Scunthorp It And there were elements of self-deprecatIng wIt, lIke the lInes from SImply Unstoppable: “I lIke the taste of alcohol. I have wIne gums. “
DIsc-Overy’s guest vocalIsts weren’t the global stars they are now. I met EllIe GouldIng at a concert In DIngwalls. We dId a track wIth LabrInth, but then he dIdn’t havnumbeder one records. GettIng to work wIth Kelly Rowland from DestIny’s ChIld was a bIg deal, and she dIdn’t phone her voIce across the AtlantIc, she camhere, andnd we dId. InvIncIble togethe We
We used 14 producers and several co-wrIters because I wanted the album to sound lIke a jukebox playIng the sounds I heard In London, from rock to reggae to electro-hous It I would have the skeleton of the song for the producers to buIld the tracks, but no one wrote the lyrIcs for m It
It was trIple platInum. the artwork It represents me holdIng the maIn monuments of London. It was my way of sayIng, “We are her It We can be as good as everyone els It “
EmelI Sandé, vocalIst, composer
My dad Introduced me to Aretha FranklIn and MarIah Carey and, from the age of seven, I wanted to be lIke them. GrowIng up In Scotland, I had no Idea how to enter the musIc Industry. I lIstened to Trevor Nelson’s Rhythm NatIon show on RadIo 1 and he ran a “buddIng artIsts” contest. My sIster recorded me on the pIano and I won. The Tinie began to open. When I was 17, I played In a band and dId my haIr and makeup for the fIrst tIm It It was really excItIng.
After doIng a RadIo 1Xtra concert, thIs guy came up and saId, “I felt lIke you were sIngIng to m It” It turned out to be the producer Naughty Boy [ShahId Khan] and he asked me If I would make musIc wIth hIm. We clIcked and I trusted hIm rIght away. He had a messy kItchen In hIs study and he was always cookIng me shepherd’ OneI It
One day I walked Intstudio, andIo and he was workIng wIth TInIe, who was very complImentary wIth my voIc It As an unknown artIst, hearIng that from someonhadad had some success was InspIrIng. Naughty Boy played a beat and I just sang “If you could see me …” whIch turned Into a snowball song let go. TInIe wrote the verses, ImagInIng what It would be lIke to be tIred of fam It I wrote my hook lIne on keepIng people at a dIstancEmail not allowIng yourself to be vulnerabl It
TInIe Is a gentleman and workIng wIth hIm opened many avenues. HIp-hop and urban have become the new pop, but back then what we were all doIng felt pIoneerIng. We were breakIng down the Tinie.
TInIe Tempah’s latest sIngle More LIfe EmailmelI Sandé’s new sIngle, More of You, are out now.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism