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Chip: 'I’m showing I’m versatile with every song'

TEN OUT OF TEN: Chip performing at BBC Radio 1Xtra Live at the O2 Arena in London yesterday

HAVING ALREADY experienced more than most in his 27 years of life, north London native and three-time MOBO Award-winner Chip is back to close summer with his fourth studio album, Ten10.

The aptly named record has 10 tracks representing his career over the last decade.

“This is my first precise album,” explains Chip. “I’ve never wanted to do the same thing twice and without bigging myself up, it takes a certain type of artist to do this; I’m showing I’m versatile with every song sounding different, yet it works as an album. I’ve forced people to expect this from me.”

Returning at a time when the post-subcultural tide means less concentration on any one scene and a more open soundscape ripe for exploration, Chip finds himself in his most unreserved space yet; always one to use his voice as the ultimate instrument, he’s never shied away from experimentation, repping every genre he’s turned his hand to with great effect.

First entering the game as a teenager, back in 2004, the last of a generation of mic controllers spurred by pirate radio, Chip was championed from the offset by Wiley and Skepta.

After releasing his debut mixtape, Wot Eva the Weather Vol 1, in 2005, his breakthrough soon came via the release of timely street heater Who Are You?.

Winning MOBO Awards for Best Newcomer and Best Hip Hop, the pace was really just being set.

Going on to ink a major deal with Sony just before his 18th birthday in 2009, his debut long player, I Am Chipmunk, bore four top 10 singles, including his first No. 1 – no mean feat, as he remains the youngest rapper to ever top the UK charts, while the album was certified platinum.

WINNING: Chip with his award for best grime act at the 2016 Mobo Awards

Seizing life to the fullest, 2011 LP Transition bought further commercial success and in 2012 came a coveted move to TI’s Grand Hustle imprint.

Under TI’s mentorship, Chip resided in Atlanta and spent time growing as an artist (also dropping the “munk” from his name).

During this time Stateside, collaborations with Jeezy, Iggy Azalea, Meek Mill, Travis Scott, TI and more saw Chip hold his own, with a slowed down pace making way for the London Boy mixtape.

Having made the decision to come back to the UK, a musical hiatus and repositioning of life took precedent.

When Chip resurfaced in 2015 – with what The Fader described as “a breathlessly prolific run of independent EPs, singles, and diss tracks that showcased his re-galvanised energy and sharpened lyricism…” – fans didn’t know what had hit them.

Teaming up with the likes of Stormzy, D Double E and JME, Chip quickly reminded people about his fire flows and super-sharp lyricism.

While much of Chip’s notoriety as a lyricist stems from his penchant for clashing and diss tracks – one of the few mic men who’ve made national news for an art form with roots in Chip’s ancestral home of Jamaica – it’s just one chapter in an expansive repertoire of personal bests.

In 2016 he appeared on Skepta’s Mercury Award-winning Konnichiwa album before dropping his own critically acclaimed mixtape (his tenth, in fact) Power Up, and nabbing a MOBO for best grime act while he was at it.

His third album, League Of My Own II, landed in 2017 – the first in six years – and went number 12 in the charts independently.

Recent features haven’t gone amiss, either; becoming like the go-to guy for the fire addition, Chip can be heard on Ambush Buzzworl’s Jumpy Remix, Lotto Boyzz No Don (Remix), Genes by SL, Skrapz’s High Spec and the B Young track Jumanji (Remix).

“What’s changed in the last year is me noticing that I could make another album. Sometimes you don’t experience something in a year that makes you want to make music, but I felt the fire.

“After the whole clashing saga and League Of My Own II, it wasn’t enough to show myself I’ve still got the fire in my belly, so I had to do another album.

NEW MUSIC: Chip's latest album, Ten10

“This is the first time I’ve had the title and number of tracks I’m going to do before doing the album. It just hit me.”

While production on TEN10 comes from a steady pick of trusty co-d’s – Diztortion, Parker, Sampha, Silva, Victizzle and Sevaqk, there are also guest slots from JME, Frisco, Not3s, B Young, Red Rat, Maleek Berry and Kranium; the overriding theme that ties the 10 new tracks together is love. “I can’t pretend to be angry when I’m not. It’s all love – like CRB Check is hilarious when you take it in properly – whereas Human is heartfelt, it makes you want to dance.

Good Morning Britain, there’s a level of excellence in the rhymes… I think I’m in a more positive space than I was.

“Even though there were happy songs on my last album, it came off the back of a darker mind-frame.

“I’m showing I’m versatile with every song sounding different but it works as an album.”

Having already whet appetites with Marijuana, Darth Vader and now My Girl, the season for Chip to knock down new doors and barriers is open.

Ten10 – as in 10 out of 10 – with 10 tracks, each track being a 10-10 representation of versatility, growth, lyricism, unique production and pushing boundaries creatively (as well as me recently touching the cusp of 10 years) – I present to you Ten10… my first clinically precise album,” he added.

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