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Tinie Tempah: Disturbing the world

EXPANDING: Tinie Tempah

HE HAS ‘disturbed’ nearly every country across the globe, toured with US superstars, Rihanna and Usher, and performed for the royals, but UK rapper Tinie Tempah is still hungry for more.

Even with a collection of No.1 singles (and an album), the launch of his Disturbing London fashion line and a slew of awards to match, the star, real name Patrick Chukwuem Okogwu, vows to “keep working until I reach all of my goals.”

He says: “Success is a very subjective thing. Success for me is getting to a place and position where you are comfortable and you have created a comfortable environment for yourself. It’s also about fulfilling your maxim potential in whatever field you decide to follow. As far as I am concerned, I am going to carry on going until I feel that I have created a legacy for myself!”

The 24-year-old, who was born and raised in south London’s Aylesbury Estate, has been famously quoted saying, “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.” And no one can deny his motivation.
In 2007, he released mixtape, Hood Economics – Room 147: The 80 Minute Course, which spurned underground hits Tears and ladies’ favourite, Wifey, firmly positioning Tinie on the road to stardom.

A 2009 performance at the annual Wireless Festival in London’s Hyde Park caught the attention of a Parlophone Records scout, who noticed the Londoner’s skills and growing fan base.

The label set up a meeting with Tinie’s manager and cousin, Dumi Oburota, with whom he had previously set up independent label, Disturbing London. He signed to Parlophone in the same year.

Despite his impressive underground success, it was Tinie’s 2011’s mainstream hit single, Pass Out from debut album, Disc-O-very, that brought him to the attention of masses. It entered the UK chart at No.1 and stayed there for two weeks.

His follow-up single, Frisky, produced by friend and fellow musician, Labrinth, reached an impressive No.2 and caused waves across the pond, with R&B star Usher claiming it as one of his “favourite” tracks. But is was the rapper’s third single, Written In The Stars, that went on to become his biggest single to date, selling over 115,000 copies in its first week.

“It’s not been easy to get where I am. If it was, then everyone would be doing it, so I count my blessings daily. I’ve had so many spectacular moments from No.1 singles and albums, awards, international trips, which include those to my homeland Lagos and to New Zealand. It’s been everything that I could’ve asked for and I am constantly learning and being inspired.”

Although he cites US President, Barack Obama and former South African leader, Nelson Mandela, as his life and career inspirations, it is his manager Dumi who he credits for his winning fashion sense, which saw him crowned the Best Dressed man of 2012 in men’s magazine GQ.

“I have always liked fashion, but I have to give my props to my manager and a whole load of other influential people around me,” he says.

“I’m like a sponge who soaks up fashion ideas and I develop my own style from there. I started performing at 16 and I thought if I’m going to stand in front of all these people who are the same age as me, I need to have an extra edge. I just can’t look like everyone else, hence the [signature black-rimmed Ray-Ban] glasses.”

And on the Best Dressed nod, he says: “It’s amazing and flattering. People who are usually awarded things like that are, in my opinion, usually older, so it feels good to represent Britain and fashion in a different light.”

His love for fashion spurned clothing line, Disturbing London, which he says is for “guys like me who are not frightened to wear something different.”

He says: “It was the next obvious step as there is so much more to me than just music. My manager Dumi and I thought that it was the perfect addition to our Disturbing London brand. Our aim is to build a lifestyle company.”

It’s apt to slot in here, that our Tinie’s love for fashion once burned a $37,000 hole in his pocket – for just one pair of trainers. He laughs when I mention his lavish purchase.

“I brought them to support the Michael J Fox Parkinson’s Trust,” he says sheepishly.

Thankfully, his choice of clothing for his perfect lady doesn’t come with such a high price tag.“If it’s a summer date, I’m a sucker for a lovely maxi dress. I’m really big on accessories for girls. Whenever I see a girl in a nice watch, I always appreciate that.”

He adds: “I also love a girl wearing a pair of Jordan’s [trainers] or nice flat shoes. Heels are cool for when you’re going somewhere swanky, but if I’m wearing a tracksuit, I like to see my girl wearing pumps or something relaxed.”

Does he have a special lady in his life? “To be honest, I just want to concentrate on the music. That’s what got me here and that’s what makes me happy. Music is still my first love!”

Tinie Tempah’s new album, Demonstration, is set for release later this year www.disturbinglondon.com

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