London rapper Tinie Tempah is as hot as it gets in the UK right now, thanks to last year’s debut album, Disc-overy, going straight in at number one, plus two number one singles and a whole hatful of awards. He just happens to be in Sydney right now for his first Aussie tour, so we went to say hello…
Hi Tinie, how’d your gig at the Oxford Art Factory go last night? It was absolutely amazing man. I didn’t really expect the reaction I got, which was so crazy. We got there at like 11.15pm, I had a shot of Jack Daniels and went on stage. I had such a good time. The Australian trip as a whole has been rather incredible. We started off in Perth, then Adelaide, Melbourne, now Sydney. Some people come to Australia and just end up staying in Sydney or Melbourne so the fact that I get to see the majority of it is pretty awesome.
You’ve got a few days in Sydney. Had a chance to see much yet? I’m working on it. I know I really need to check out the Botanical Gardens and I need to go to the zoo, everybody says the zoo is pretty awesome so I need to check it out.
Your life must have gone pretty crazy in the last year or two? Absolutely. Yeah, to be fair man, what can I say. You have a dream, you have a vision and you put your head down and get on with it, and when everything starts to manifest and things start coming your way, it’s like you’re surrounded by all of this. I just appreciate every moment of it. That’s all you can really do, try not to soak it in too much, try to keep your head down and keep it all about the music.
You performed with Snoop at Glastonbury last year. How was that? That was awesome. I’d say it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. I literally met him like 45 minutes before we went on stage which was like fucking rad. To then be on stage with him in front of 100,000 people, I was just, “Oh my God”. He’s out here tomorrow as well. I’m definitely gonna hit him up and see what’s going on. It’s so cool to be able to get the stamp of approval from a hip-hop icon like that.
A night out in Sydney with Snoop it is then? That could be crazy? Watch out, we’re coming!
What’s it like, meeting so many A-listers now? I definitely do get starstruck, but it’s not like oh my god, fucking hell it’s him. It’s more, some of the people I’ve met, like Chris Martin, Jay-Z, Damon Albarn, Kylie Minogue even, it’s like fuck, you’ve done a lot, I really respect who you are as an artist and what you’ve achieved and if I can achieve even half of what you have I would be a very happy man, so when that person comes up to me and says, “T, I really love your album,” that’s incredible. It’s similar to being starstruck, like when I was on stage with Snoop, I had to keep looking at him to make sure it was really him. Every once in a while I go on Youtube and watch it back, it’s an historic moment for me you know.
And how about So Solid Crew and Dizzee Rascal, who you often say inspired you to become an MC? Me and Dizzee talk a lot now. That is pretty cool. Even though Dizzee Rascal is in my phonebook and I call him up every now and then, I have no shame in saying that I really wanted to be that guy, so it’s really amazing to now be in this position. It just shows you that anything is possible.
Why do you think UK hip-hop is doing so well now? I think it’s a number of things, the fact that music has become digital and people are much more in control of the charts now. You don’t have to go to HMV now and buy what’s on the shelves. I think British rap and hip-hop have been underground for a long time so they’ve laid a very serious foundation, so the minute a few artists stick out who are slightly more polished than the rest they carry that whole foundation, that support structure with them and they can get into the charts. Aside from that, I think British music in general is the best it’s been for a little while.
What’s it like when you’re back in Plumstead nowadays? Bro, it’s insane, it’s mad. I’ve been driving down the road at home and looked to my right and there’s been a huge, fucking billboard saying Tinie Tempah. It’s weird because when I go on dates in England I have to put on like Radio 4 with sports or current affairs, because if I leave the radio on too long one of my songs will come on and I’ll be like “oh shit”, it’s so awkward. It’s a very humbling experience when you come to Australia or go to America and people aren’t so familiar, I can walk down the street and there’s nobody batting an eyelid, I kind of like that.
So is it true you want to collaborate with Justin Bieber? I think what I said was I have a lot of respect for Justin Bieber. He’s like 17 and he’s a world star, he’s massive. The kid works harder than anyone else and it never really seems like it’s getting on top of him. That’s why I said I’d collaborate with him, definitely. Also, what you’ve got to remember is that he’s got legs on him. Who knows where Justin Bieber’s going to be in five years, how credible or uncredible he’ll be, but he’s still got so much room for development yet he’s so successful now. The minute he gets a few more hairs on his chin, becomes a bit of a badass, has a few more experiences with girls and media run-ins, you’d be surprised. Remember the voice is the most important thing.
You’re always on Twitter. Are you truly addicted? Well man, my Blackberry’s right here! That’s part of my everyday life. You can tell when an artist doesn’t want to be on Twitter because it’s not them, it’s very scripted. For me I understand the importance of my fans and social networking, if it wasn’t for my fans I probably wouldn’t be where I am today, so I’m obliged to keep them in the loop with what’s going on and who I’ve met. I genuinely believe that my fans are living out their dreams through me as well, you know, like he’s 22, not much older or younger than us, he’s out there in the world, so I just think it’s kind of cool to be able to give that kind of personal insight into your life and what’s going on.
I saw you Tweeted asking for peoples’ favourite cartoon character. Who’s yours? Mine is either Stewie or Quagmire. But we were arguing about Bart Simpson, because he kind of carried a whole generation with him. Twitter went crazy. The other one, if you can help me out, is what film is funnier than The Hangover? Literally, laugh out loud funnier?
Anchorman… It’s not funnier. Will Ferrell is a genius though. Definitely the funniest man in film.
Happy Gilmore… Adam Sandler. Not funnier though…
What’s the Ferrell one where they get a house on campus… Old School. Yeah, that’s awesome. Not funnier though… It’s very funny, but not funnier. A lot of people said Dumb and Dumber.
Yeah, that is a classic. What’s on your rider? Jack is on there, Remy’s on there, champagne is on there, butterkiss popcorn is on there. I have a very essential rider. But obviously Jack Daniels, you know what a hot toddy is yeah? Lemon, honey, ginger, hot water and Jack Daniels.
Have you got a method for writing lyrics? When you’re an MC you learn to write in any environment. You don’t write in like candle-lit rooms, you’ve got guys rolling up joints, girls walking in, engineers, people eating pizza, people on the phone, it’s the most hostile environment, so I’ve learnt to write in any scenario.
Who’d be your dream drinking partner? Charlie Sheen definitely, that would be just awesome.
Did you have a celebrity lookalike when you were younger? Oh, wow. Lot’s of people used to say I looked like Ja Rule for some reason, I don’t think I do.
Celebrity crush? I really liked Britney Spears around “Hit Me Baby One More Time”, but I think everyone did. Who else… I did like Holly Valance for a little bit, Beyonce of course, obviously Megan Fox is a lot more recent.
Have you met them? I’ve met Beyonce. I’ve seen Holly Valance at a party, she’s alright, not bad. Britney Spears I’ve never met, I don’t even know if she’s a real person, she’s almost like a robot isn’t she? She comes out every three or four years, releases a song, goes straight to number one then shaves her hair off or something and disappears. Everybody that I’ve met that I’d been remotely intrigued by has been really cool.
What superpower would you choose? It would be to be invisible. You could do everything. You could get on planes, you could get into the White House… I’d go and chill out with the Obamas for like a week, have a sleep over, just see what it’s like to be the first family, it must be pretty gnarly.
Catch Tinie Tempah joining The Script at Sydney’s Hordern Pavillion tonight and tomorrow (Saturday 9 April) and then Brisbane’s Convention Centre on Sunday 10 April.