Tinie Tempah is taking grime to bigger places, he tells Jim Carroll,
Tinie Tempah has moved onwards and upwards from the grime roots of old. Ahead of his forthcoming arena tour, he tells Jim Carroll what he sees when he glances back over his shoulder at where he’s come from
The time is nigh for Tinie Tempah to go large. The days of grabbing the microphone in a small club and being able to see the eyes of everyone in the room staring back at him are well and truly over. Two hugely successful albums and several massive hit tunes tend to have that effect on an artist. You move on, you move up, you prepare for the big-time.
For the man born Patrick Okogwu to Nigerian parents in south London, going large means calling in the pros – and not just to give him a dig-out in the studio. The move from clubs to arenas means a step-up in terms of what people want from a show, and Tempah knows exactly what he’s after in this regard.
For his upcoming tour, which arrives in Dublin this month, he’s working with the set designers who’ve put on the glitz for Beyoncé’s live shows in the past. Tempah has become a student of the arena show game and he counts off the artists whose set designs have caught his eye.
“Kanye West definitely, he did a show in London after My Dark Twisted Fantasy came out which was pretty amazing. Simplistic, but beautiful. Drake’s show is pretty decent, Rihanna always does a good show and I saw Beyoncé recently in Poland and that was mind-blowing, of course.
“For me, Jay-Z and Kanye on Watch the Throne was one of the best hip-hop performances ever. It was a world-class next-level thing, hip-hop at its height. You’d never seen hip-hop performed like that before.”
Hip-hop has certainly left the old days behind, he reckons. “The old game, where you’d just a rapper and a DJ onstage, is definitely over now at that level. You won’t get away with it at this scale. That was something I did when I was coming up as a kid, doing shows in clubs, and it works there.
“But when you go into proper venues or arenas, it becomes all about a band and theatrics. When you look back at my evolution as an artist and British rapper, you can see I’ve been doing the big show sets for some time.”
There’s a pause before he adds a wicked line. “But it’s nice to see the Yanks have started to do that more now, too, and have followed us.”
Tempah will talk a fair bit today about moving on and moving up. The lad who came out of the grime scene