Like An Interpreter, Tinie Tempah Drops Gems on UK Hip Hop and Lists His Stateside Favorites


On Tuesday, we shared some of Tinie Tempah’s thoughts on mentally transitioning from the UK to the US as an up-and-coming artist in the hectic world of hip-hop. Because the London native goes back and forth across the pond so frequently, we also asked Tinie to give us a cheat sheet of sorts, helping to get us looped-in to the who’s who of British rap. Check out his list of personal favorites below, because after all, you never know if one of these guys might be next.

“Definitely be on the lookout for Giggs, he’s doing his thing,” preached Tinie. After collaborating with B.o.B and a slew of other big-name British rappers, Giggs continues spitting coke-rap bars for days. Style-wise, Tinie compared him to both Young Jeezy and Gucci; embodying the hustler image, Giggs served a two-year bid for a gun charge back in 2003, but inked with XL Recordings (see: M.I.A., Tyler, The Creator, Dizzee Rascal) to distribute his third solo LP next year off of self-made label, SN1 Entertainment.

A rapper and soul singer, Plan B’s storytelling sophomore effort, The Defamation of Strickland Banks, has sold over a million copies in the UK. “Some people give Drake some stick for singing and then rapping, so imagine how people are going to perceive that [in the US],” Tinie wonders. “And it’s really interesting because in England, that album got critical acclaim and everybody’s really proud of his body of work, he’s won so many awards off the back of it, because it’s very different, it’s very innovative, so um, yeah, I’m kind of curious to see how that’s gonna do out here.”

Representing East London’s Grime scene to the fullest, Skepta has achieved pop-crossover success without the aid of a major label deal. After being recruited by Diddy via Twitter to remix Diddy Dirty Money’s “Hello Good Morning” last year, Skepta was then charged with giving the Bad Boy mogul an in-depth guided tour of the Grime scene in England. “I’m a big fan of Skepta,” Tinie told us. “He’s been out here in NY, especially, doing a few things- with Whoo Kid.”

WRETCH 32 (IF YOU LIKE: Lupe Fiasco)
According to Tinie, Wretch 32 is “someone who’s a lot more conscious” and “has a lot of amazing punchlines and metaphors.” That description, plus ecclectic-sounding hooks, a versatile, laid-back flow and an extensive outerwear collection displayed in his videos, he sort of reminds us of Chicago’s Lupe Fiasco.

“I really like Chipmunk as well. Chipmunk’s a really good rapper,” gushed Tinie. After his first album was released in 2009 via Jive in the UK, the critter-named rapper then made moves to successfully procure some American heavy hitters for round two. Dropping just in April, Transition pandered to mainstream ears and contains features from Trey Songz, Keri Hilson, Mavado and Chris Brown. Having artists run to the US to solicit help doesn’t always sit will with the English, though, but Breezy-featuring single “Champion” also includes Roc Nation signee J. Cole on the remix, and would likely be eaten up out here.

Once we were brought up to speed with Tinie’s UK favorites, we couldn’t resist asking him who’s in his ears stateside, especially since his new single features rolling paper-toting Wiz Khalifa. Enthusiastically, he rattled off a batch of aritsts, all of whom are listed below.

1. Big Sean
2. Wiz Khalifa
3. Waka Flocka Flame
4. Rick Ross
5. Kanye West
6. Drake
7. Lil Wayne
8. Nicki Minaj
Right after mentioning Nicki, Tinie paused. “To be fair: Chris Brown, and what he’s doing at the moment, in terms of singing and maybe doing a few raps here and there, I don’t think it sounds bad. I think some of it is actually pretty amazing, so I would love to do a record with Chris where it’s just like he’s spittin’ some bars as well.”

Paging Breezy! This might be something he’d consider, but I wonder: would Chris’ previous collaboration with Chipmunk help or hinder locking this in for Tinie? And more importantly, would having such a huge pop star on his song help the American audience be more receptive to Tinie’s UK style and accent, or would he be alienating hip hop heads who might view it as selling out? Either way, the Brit-hop artist is certain of one thing: Chris’ creative aptitude. Considering some critics are vocalizing doubt that the R&B singer is penning the slew of new rhymes he’s spitting, we asked Tinie to weigh in on the debate. Having zero doubt in his mind that Chris writes his own raps, Tinie couldn’t emphasize enough that he feels Brown is “one of the most talented people around.”

[Photo: Getty Images]

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