Published May 18, 2011Part-charisma, part-talent and all hustle, UK rapper Tinie Tempah has managed to transmute his take on hip-hop into early worldwide buzz. Released overseas last year, the genre-bending Disc-Overy lands on these shores on the strength of party anthem single "Pass Out" and the mainstream-friendly "Written in the Stars" (featuring Eric Turner). Tempah (real name Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu) seems to be in that "about to blow" category. Time will tell if this comes to pass, but it wouldn't be from Tempah's lack of trying. "I've come to cause a bit of chaos and to break rules," Tinie Tempah raps on "Simply Unstoppable," one of the 13 disparate tracks on Disc-Overy. Indeed, trying to pin a genre on his sound is an exercise in futility. Not so futile is understanding that the 22-year-old from London is determined to leave his mark on the North American music scene. While the lyrics, flow and production don't get too deep, the sheer mix of sounds ― dance-infused "Miami 2 Ibiza," dubstep "Frisky" and introspective "Snap" ― dare to challenge your notions of what a rapper from London should sound like.
How would you categorize your sound?
I would say it's a mix of everyone, but it definitely falls into the popular context of music. I would say there are loads of influences from rock, drum & bass, grime, hip-hop, dubstep, dance; it's like a big, eclectic mix of everything.
In terms of global success, do you find yourself blazing a trail or is there a template you're following?
I'd say Damon Albarn from Blur and Gorillaz was one of those people [that I looked to]. I think it was amazing what he's been able to do ― even the fact that he started in one band and started something completely new. In terms of someone from the UK that's made it, I'd say that he's definitely a good role model.
How do you define success right now?
Success is a very subjective thing. You kind of dictate what your success is ― what's success for you is not what my success might be. For me, the album and singles have connected on a global level ― that's amazing, that's success, to me. (EMI)