Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu (born 7 November 1988), better known by his stage name Tinie Tempah, is an English rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer. He has been signed to Parlophone Records since 2009, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group. He created his own record and fashion label Disturbing London Records in 2007 along with his cousin, Dumi Oburota.
After releasing a couple of mixtapes, he released his long-awaited debut album, Disc-Overy, in October 2010. Preceded by two British number-one singles, "Pass Out" and "Written in the Stars", the album charted at number one and was certified Platinum the next year. In February 2011, he won two Brit Awards for Best British Breakthrough Act and Best British Single.
In November 2013, he released his second album, entitled Demonstration. Preceded by top ten singles "Trampoline" and "Children of the Sun", the album charted at number three and was certified gold by the BPI the next year. In June 2015, he released "Not Letting Go", the first single from his upcoming third album Youth. This gave Tempah his sixth UK number one, the most by any rap artist.
Tempah was born in London, the son of Igbo parents from Nigeria. His middle name, Chukwuemeka, means God has done more; in the Igbo language.
Until he was 12, Tempah lived on the Aylesbury Estate in southeast London with his parents and three younger siblings: Kelly, Kelvin, and Marian. The family later moved to Plumstead, with Tempah attending St. Paul's Catholic School in nearby Abbey Wood. After earning 10 GCSEs, he took A Levels in media studies, psychology, and religious studies at Saint Francis Xavier Sixth Form College. At 12 years old, Tempah conceived his stage name after viewing the music video for So Solid Crew's "21 Seconds". He used a thesaurus in class, juxtaposing "tempah" (temper), which he saw under "angry", with "tinie" (tiny), to ameliorate the aggressive sound of "tempah".
Regarding his London upbringing, Tempah states, "London is one of the only places in the world where you can live in a council block and see a beautiful semi-detached house across the street. Growing up around that was inspirational, it kept me motivated." He has said that he has considered furthering his education, stating, "I definitely want to be in a financial position where I can head off to Cambridge or Oxford or somewhere. I would study something like music management or something extremely random like physics, which no-one would expect, as I like challenges."
2005–2008: Early career
Tempah's music career began in 2005 when he joined the Aftershock Hooligans (Aftershock Records), recording hundreds of songs with the fellow Hooligans. His first mixtape, "Chapter 1: Verse 22", was released via Aftershock Records in 2005, as a free mixtape. In 2006, Tempah gained a great deal of airplay on British music TV channel Channel AKA for his song "Tears", and later on gained more recognition for "Wifey". Later in the year, he collaborated on a track with grime artist Ultra and producers and songwriters Agent X. He released the mixtape Hood Economics Room 147: The 80 Minute Course in 2007 and left the label later that year. When asked why he left, he stated that he felt Aftershock didn't respect him as an artist and that it was time to move on.
Tempah, together with his manager and cousin Dumi Oburota founded the independent label Disturbing London primarily as an outlet for Tempah's music, but with the idea of also signing other young artists. According to Dumi: "We wanted to have a platform to put out our music and there wasn't any Def Jam or Roc-A-Fella label equivalent in England. [Also] I wanted to create a major independent label with quality artists. I felt like the major labels had lost the passion for music." The activities of the label were initially largely funded by student loans and the proceeds from buying and selling cars. Disturbing London also produce a clothing range that Tinie wears and promotes.
When scout and music consultant Jade Richardson saw Tempah performing at the 2009 Wireless Festival she called Parlophone Records president Miles Leonard saying: "You've got to check out this guy Tinie Tempah. He came on at lunchtime and there’s about 1,000 kids screaming for him. He's only put out one independent release and he's got this huge audience." Leonard and A&R Nathan Thompson visited Tempah and his manager Dumi at their studio a few weeks later and were hugely impressed to hear about the work they had already done in developing Tempah's career and by the ambitious plans they had for his future. Leonard told HitQuarters: "I thought it was incredible that an artist and manager were doing so much so soon with so little... That impressed as much as the music." Tempah announced his signing to Parlophone in October 2009 by running a competition on his blog, with the winner invited to high tea at Claridges to celebrate the deal.
A major break came when Sony launched its PlayStation Portable and used a track featuring Yasmin and DJ Ironik, and "Atlantic/Warner" for the futuristic Wipeout Pure. This resulted in a promotional European tour alongside the likes of Sway and Dizzee Rascal.
2009–2011: Success and Disc-Overy
Tempah released his debut single "Pass Out" through Parlophone on 28 February 2010. It entered the UK Singles Chart at number 1, having sold just over 92,000 copies in its first week, and sold sufficiently well to stay at the top spot for a second week. Tempah toured with Chipmunk in February 2010, going on to support Rihanna for four dates in May on her 10-date UK tour with Tinchy Stryder and Pixie Lott. Tempah performed at Radio 1 Big Weekend in Bangor on 22 May 2010 on the in New Music We Trust stage. He also toured with Mr Hudson in May 2010, as well as performing at many summer balls at various universities around the United Kingdom.
Tempah's second single "Frisky" was released on 6 June 2010, entering the UK Singles Chart at number 2. "Frisky" would later be used for a 2013 Bacardi commercial advertising their new pineapple flavor. Tinie Tempah played a host of festival dates throughout the summer, including the Summertime Ball at Wembley Stadium on 6 June 2010, at Wakestock in Abersoch on 3 July 2010, both T4 on the Beach and the Wireless Festival in London's Hyde Park on 4 July, and V Festival on 21 and 22 August 2010. He also had the honour of performing his first single "Pass Out" on 25 June 2010 at Glastonbury on the Pyramid stage with Snoop Dogg.
Tempah released his third single "Written in the Stars" on 19 September 2010. This again charted at number 1 in the UK Singles Chart, selling over 115,000 copies in its first week (his biggest-selling single to date), and charting in a number of other countries. "Written in the Stars" would go on to be used for a WrestleMania XXVII countdown promo during the WWE PPV Royal Rumble on 30 January 2011, and was later confirmed by WWE that it would be the official theme for Wrestlemania XXVII. It is also the theme song for the 2011 MLB Post Season, and was used as the entrance song for the New York Giants before Super Bowl XLVI.
Tempah teamed up with Swedish House Mafia for his fourth single "Miami 2 Ibiza", which was released on 1 October 2010. This reached a peak of number 4 in the UK Singles Chart and gave him his first number 1 in the Netherlands Mega Single Top 100 chart. Tempah's long-awaited debut album Disc-Overy was then released on 4 October 2010, featuring all his previous charted singles. On 11 October 2010, he kicked off his first UK tour which was supported by Chiddy Bang. In the same month, he was awarded his first 2 MOBO Awards. Tempah also featured on the Tinchy Stryder single "Game Over", which was released on 15 November 2010 and reached number 22 on the UK Singles Chart.
On 25 December, Tempah released his fifth single "Invincible" featuring Kelly Rowland, which peaked at number 11 on the UK Singles Chart. "Wonderman", featuring Ellie Goulding, was released and was the sixth official single. Tempah joined Usher on the European leg of his OMG Tour in January 2011.
Tempah was nominated for 4 Brit Awards making him the most nominated artist at the awards, and on 15 February 2011 he won his first ever Brit Award, for Best British Breakthrough Act, as well as a Brit for Best British Single.
On 7 March 2011, Tempah expressed his desire for his next album to go triple platinum. "I reckon in 2011, towards the end of it, I'm going to do an arena tour – and sell it out – then I reckon I'm going to release another album, and fingers crossed it can go platinum again, and double platinum, and triple. Let's just sell a million." In early 2011, Tinie Tempah announced a UK Arena tour, featuring support acts Nero, Labrinth and Chase & Status (After Party DJ Set).
In 2011, Labrinth revealed that Tempah would be releasing "Pass Out" in the United States, featuring a well recognised artist in the American rap game. He also served as a front act with Big Sean among others on Lupe Fiasco's Generation Lasers Tour. On 28 November 2011, Tinie Tempah hosted an episode of the TV show Never Mind the Buzzcocks. In the same month, Tinie Tempah would release two tracks, "Like It or Love It" which featured both Wretch 32 and J. Cole, and "Lucky Cunt" which featured Big Sean. On 16 December, Tempah released a 9-track mixtape/EP titled Happy Birthday, which went on to win best EP of 2011 at the Official Mixtape Awards 2012. In early 2012 Tempah featured with Eric Turner and Lupe Fiasco on a track called "Angels and Stars".
By December 2010, Tempah was writing a second album, saying there would be a more electronic and live feel to it. It was originally intended for a late 2011 release. During an interview, Tempah said of his second album: "I always like to work with different people on each project I do, just so you get a different sound and angle. I will be working with some of the same people I did for the first album, you know what they say ‘if it ain't broke then don’t try and fix it’." Tempah had hoped to collaborate with other artists such as Toronto's Drake, and Adele. At the Brit Awards in 2012, he announced that his second album would be called Demonstration. On 24 June 2012, Tempah performed at Radio 1's Hackney Weekend on the main stage, playing two of his newest songs: "Mosh Pit", and "Drinking from the Bottle", on which he features alongside Calvin Harris as lead artist and which also appears on Harris' new album 18 Months. On 12 August, Tempah performed at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, performing "Written in the Stars" alongside Jessie J and Taio Cruz.
The lead single from Demonstration, "Trampoline", was premiered on MistaJam's BBC Radio 1Xtra show on 2 July 2013, and the lyric video was premiered shortly afterwards. It features 2 Chainz and was produced by Diplo, and was released on 4 August 2013 in the United Kingdom, peaking at number 3 in the UK Singles Chart. In the interview with MistaJam, Tempah cites Dizzee Rascal and So Solid Crew as influences for the album, who've influenced him since his childhood. In interviews, Tinie and other artists have announced that they were working together on his album such as Labrinth, Dizzee Rascal, Ellie Goulding, Big Sean and Emeli Sandé.
The next single from the album, "Children of the Sun", featuring John Martin, was produced by iSHi and was premiered on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show on 12 September. It was released on 28 October in the United Kingdom and charted at number 6 in the UK. On 16 September, to promote his forthcoming UK arena tour, the album track "Don't Sell Out" live at the O2 Arena was uploaded to O2's YouTube channel. Tempah performed at Keele University on 8 October in a surprise event. On 19 October 2013, Tinie Tempah was awarded "Best UK Hip Hop/Grime Act" at the MOBO Awards' 18th Anniversary.
The album, Demonstration, was released on 4 November 2013, entering the UK Albums Chart at number three. Demonstration also debuted at number twenty-two on the Australian album charts and number forty on the New Zealand album charts. Tinie announced a third single, featuring Labrinth, entitled "Lover Not A Fighter", to be released in February 2014. In April, Tinie released the music video to Demonstration's fourth single, "5 Minutes". The song was produced by BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe, and was engineered by Rob Swire.
Tinie features on a vocal remix of the 2013 DVBBS and Borgeous instrumental EDM hit "Tsunami", retitled "Tsunami (Jump)", which was released through Ministry of Sound in 2014 and topped the UK Singles Chart. Tinie also features on Cheryl Cole's comeback track "Crazy Stupid Love", which went straight to Number 1, selling 118,000 copies in its first week, giving him his fifth Number 1 single. Tinie followed Cole to the judges' houses on The X Factor airing in October the same year. During his stint in Dunedin for the University of Otago Orientation Week, Tempah performed both on the stage and in the bedroom at a Castle Street flat.
2015–present: Continued chart success
On 21 June 2015, Tempah released the first single from his upcoming third studio album, "Not Letting Go", which features fellow British artist Jess Glynne. To promote the single, he performed it with Sasha Keable on The Graham Norton Show on 19 June as Jess Glynne was unavailable due to her having vocal surgery shortly before. The single charted at number 1 in the UK on 28 June 2015, gifting Tempah his sixth number one single. However, on the week of 23 October 2015, Tempah earned his seventh UK number one single with "Turn the Music Louder (Rumble)", a song by KDA, which also features English singer-songwriter Katy B. In December 2015, Tempah released the mixtape Junk Food, with collaborations from a large number of British artists.
In 2007, Tempah founded an independent record label known as Disturbing London.
- All About She
- DJ Charlesy
- J Warner
- Sasha Keable
- Siobhan Bell
- Sonny Reeves
- Tinie Tempah
- G FrSH
- Jessie J
- "Sonny Reeves". Disturbing London. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- "WizKid". Disturbing London. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- "G FrSH". Disturbing London. 8 December 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- "Jessie J". Disturbing London. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
Tempah is a Roman Catholic, and he has stated that it is "imperative" to have faith.
- Studio albums
- Disc-Overy (2010)
- Demonstration (2013)
- Youth (2017)
- Main act
- The Disc-Overy Tour (2011)
- Demonstration Tour (2014)
- Youth World Tour (2017)
- Supporting act
- Rihanna – Last Girl on Earth Tour – United Kingdom Leg (2010)
- Usher – OMG Tour – European Leg (2011)
- The Script – No Sound Without Silence Tour – European Leg (2015)
Awards and nominations
|2010||MOBO Awards||Best Newcomer||Won|
|Best Video||"Frisky" (featuring Labrinth)||Won|
|Best UK Act||Nominated|
|Best Song||"Pass Out"||Nominated|
|4Music Video Honours||Hottest Boy||Nominated|
|Hottest Hook-up||"Frisky" (featuring Labrinth)||Nominated|
|MP3 Music Awards||The UGG Award (Urban/Garage/Grime)||Won|
|Urban Music Awards||Best Newcomer||Won|
|Best Video||"Wonderman" (featuring Ellie Goulding)||Nominated|
|Best Hip-Hop Act||Won|
|Best Collaboration||"Pass Out"||Won|
|BT Digital Music Awards||Breakthrough Artist of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Male Artist||Nominated|
|Best Video||"Pass Out"||Nominated|
|Best Song||"Pass Out"||Nominated|
|UK Festival Awards||Breakthrough Artist||Won|
|MTV Europe Music Awards||Best UK and Ireland New Act||Nominated|
|2011||South Bank Awards||Pop Music||Disc-Overy||Nominated|
|Brit Awards||Best British Male||Nominated|
|Best Breakthrough Act||Won|
|Best Single||"Pass Out"||Won|
|Album of the Year||Disc-Overy||Nominated|
|Ivor Novello Awards||Best Contemporary Song||"Pass Out"||Won|
|BET Awards||Best International Act: UK||Won|
|MOBO Awards||Best UK Hip Hop/Grime Act||Won|
|Best Song||"Hitz" (Chase & Status featuring Tinie Tempah)||Nominated|
|Best Song||"Wonderman" (featuring Ellie Goulding)||Nominated|
|Best UK Act||Nominated|
|Mercury Prize||Album of the Year||Disc-Overy||Nominated|
|2012||Nigeria Entertainment Awards||Best International Artist||Won|
|2013||Brit Awards||British Single of the Year||"R.I.P." (Rita Ora featuring Tinie Tempah)||Nominated|
|MOBO Awards||Best UK Hip Hop/Grime Act||Won|
|2014||BET Awards||Best International Act: UK||Nominated|
|2017||Brit Awards||British Single of the Year||"Girls Like" (featuring Zara Larsson)||Pending|