Rising Star: Tinie Tempah
First Published: April 27, 2011 2:16 PM EDT Credit: Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND, UK -- He may be on a journey to become the king of England — and this Friday, a husband — but Prince William certainly knows how to get down. And one of Wills’ favorite artists is AccessHollywood.com’s newest Rising Star, up-and-coming British rapper Tinie Tempah.
This 22-year-old London hip hop gent became a superstar in his native UK last year with the release of his debut album, “DiscOvery,” a fun and energetic collection of dance-infused rap tunes, which caught the attention of the Prince.
“It was the most surreal experience,” Tinie told Access of meeting Wills in the middle of his performance at BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend in the UK last year. “There was a part of the set… [where] I would sort of come off and… just change my T-shirt. I ran backstage… and I was sweatin’ and I was getting my T-shirt ready and my manger was like, ‘Prince William is here, Prince William is here,’” Tinie recounted. “I was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’
“The moment I finished [my track] ‘Pass Out,’ I… came of stage, sweaty as hell — had to take off my top — and then he came over and he like put his hand on my shoulder, which was really awkward for a while because I was like half naked and it’s like, that’s the future king of England,” Tinie continued with a laugh. “We just had a chat and he’s like, ‘Amazing set…’ Kate [Middleton] was there and that was amazing and it just goes to show the power of music and how music can unite people from different walks of life.”
In fact, Tinie’s track “Pass Out,” one of the Top 10 biggest selling singles in the UK last year, related to a lot of people — as did his album, which tells the story of his personal journey – from Plumstead, London, to breaking through to the big leagues.
“At the time I was making it, I was sort of coming out of just teenage life and being responsible, but [I was] kind of carefree to a certain degree… It was almost that focal point in my life where I was like, ‘Oh no, I’m about to become a man, I’m going to have to start doing man things,’” he laughed. “You sort of hear all about that introverted journey throughout the whole album… about being an independent artist and sort of working off of your own back and eventually signing a record deal and your whole life changes… It’s sort of like ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory,’ only real life.”
While he’s conquered his native UK — and the Prince — Tinie is aware he has a tough road ahead of him to take over the states.
“I would say there [are] challenges to being a British rapper,” he said of heading to the U.S. “Obviously hip hop is predominantly an American thing — it’s so imbedded in the culture with the likes of the Jay-Zs of the world, the Kanye Wests, the Pharrells, for years and years for decades now… I’m not even from the block – [I’m from] the block thousands of miles away.”
Still, his unique album and early comparisons to Jay-Z won’t hurt the young star, who is fond of wearing black-rimmed glasses.
“It’s amazing, flattering,” Tinie said of the Jay-Z likening. “He’s been around for a lot longer than I have and has achieved so much more… he definitely is an inspiration to me and a huge influence.”
And should the opportunity come up to collaborate with Jay-Z, who is, like William, also a fan, Tinie said he, “wouldn’t say no.”
In the meantime, “DiscOvery,” due out on Capitol Records in the U.S. on May 3, has a host of collaborations with other musical stars including dance producers Swedish House Mafia (aka: DJ’s Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, who have worked with Britney Spears), Kelly Rowland and another rising UK star, singer Ellie Goulding, who will appear as the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” alongside host Tina Fey on May 7.
Although he has a host of guests helping out on “DiscOvery,” it’s Tinie who is carrying his own message — all the while in his own London accent.
“A lot of Americans out here say, ‘You sound so proper,’” Tinie said, recounting some of the questions he gets asked from new stateside fans, including whether there is a hood in England and if all Brits drink tea and eat crumpets. “I think all of these questions surface when I come on the scene and I say I’m a rapper, which is for me a load of pros because it means a load of people are interested in some way shape or form.”
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