The 20-year-old crown prince of British grime-pop has come a long way since putting out his album between A-level revision. This week he’s back with second album Transition. Not familiar with the little guy? Allow us to introduce you.
He grew up with London MC Wretch 32.
‘I’ve known Wretch since my childhood. We grew up in the same area. He gives me a lot of good advice, but he’s my peer. Ability-wise he’s amazing. There’s no one in the UK as good as him at putting words together.’
He’s making a documentary.
‘It gives you an insight into my life. And not as in, “Hey look, this is my struggle…” It’s about the music. It captures the journey of creating the album, and some life experiences you only see if you roll with me on
a day-to-day basis. A couple of TV channels are approaching for it, but I’m not sure how we’re gonna put it out yet. It’s very raw, it’s not sugar-coated. It’s just real life, you know?’
At one point it looked like his single, ‘Champion’, would struggle due to Chris Brown being on it…
‘People were worried for me about working with him. We had emails from radio stations saying they weren’t going to support the track.’
…but he wanted to work with Brown regardless.
‘Chris Brown’s musical gifts and talents are beyond your average human. And the song has the kind of message that people needed to hear. “Champion” connected with the fans more than anything. There are kids with “Champion” tattooed on them now. It’s opened people’s ears and their hearts towards Chris in the UK and that’s a beautiful thing. I’m not trying to take credit for it, I just think that it shows that as a country we stand for forgiveness, and that’s bigger than any chart position.’
He hopes his album can introduce kids to Martin Luther King.
‘Martin Luther King is a very inspirational person. I mention him in a line on my album because a lot of young people growing up might not know about him, unless they studied history. I’m trying to remind them what MLK did for us.’
He doesn’t care that MTV voted him 10th-best MC in the country.
‘As an MC, I can’t take a panel’s opinion as a fact, when they don’t write themselves. It’s that simple. How am I going to have any kind of emotion, whether it be positive or negative, towards a panel judging MCs that don’t MC?’
He wants to give Time Out readers something to think about.
‘I’ll just leave you with one quote: “Chipmunk is the type of artist that wants words to be the first thing that his fans engage with, and what type of production it is to come second.” I’ll leave you to think about that.’
Transition is available in stores now.