[S]ince bursting onto the scene as the happy go lucky Tottenham teen back in 2009, Chip (he dropped the ‘munk’ earlier this year) has grown up in the spotlight, transitioning to adulthood under the watchful eye of the music industry and a dedicated fan base. A consequent spat with Sony following company reshuffling resulted in him being dropped from the label late last year but, not one to wallow, the resilient rapper shipped himself off to America and, after self releasing a series of hugely popular freestyles, landed a record deal with hip hop giant T.I.’s label Grand Hustle. His first mixtape on the label, ‘London Boy’ debuting a maturer, and more Americana sound, hits airwaves on Christmas day but here the 22-year-old tells us why he won’t be forgetting his UK roots any time soon, and may ever spawn a London slang explosion on the US scene. Nice one, bruv.
THIS IS YOUR FIRST RECORD SINCE 2010’S ‘TRANSITION’ AND YOUR FIRST ON THE GRAND HUSTLE LABEL, WHAT’S DIFFERENT NOW?
Honestly, I’d have to say that I’ve got my hunger back now, that’s probably what’s different. It’s all evident on ‘London Boy’, I think that can be heard in what’s been released from it already. It’s a great body of work.
HAS BEING SIGNED TO GRAND HUSTLE MEANT THAT YOU’VE SPENT LESS TIME IN THE UK – HOW DO YOUR FAN BASE FEEL ABOUT THAT?
Being a part of Grand Hustle has given me opportunities that wouldn’t have surfaced if i didn’t put myself in a direct situation with a UK label. And it has meant that I’ve spent a lot of time out of the UK but I have tried to, you know, keep the balance, just because I care about both sides as much in terms of creating my music and making sure that my fans are still happy, but they’re getting good music. I wouldn’t say people have accused me of ‘abandoning the UK’ but those who dare say something like that don’t understand the bigger picture.
HOW DO YOU FEEL THAT UK HIP HOP COMPARES TO US?
I think the US hip hop scene has more acts and I think they are just a bit further ahead, just because they have been doing it for longer, you know, their pioneers are the likes of Run DMC, and I couldn’t really name anyone who was doing UK hip hop at the time Run DMC were on fire. I feel more at home musically wherever my producers are. Mine are usually English but we record all over the world so wherever they are is where I feel at home to be honest.
YOUR NEW MIXTAPE COMES OUT ON CHRISTMAS DAY AND FEATURES A HOST OF BIG NAMES – IGGY AZALEA, T.I., WRETCH 32 – HOW DID YOU CHOOSE WHO TO WORK WITH?
T.I., being the founder of Grand Hustle, definitely had influence and say on who was on in the American side of things. But in the UK I just picked who I felt could match up lyrically with the elite from the US.
MANY OF THE ARTISTS ON ‘LONDON BOY’ ARE EITHER US OR UK ARTISTS – WAS THIS A CONSCIOUS DECISION TO APPEAL TO BOTH MARKETS?
More than anything in was just off the back of T.I. and I working together, the focus is making good music and organically coming from that.
DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM WORKING WITH THOSE ARTISTS?
Did I learn something new? I couldn’t say I learnt something new, but you know, just working with people that you respect for their craft, it always pushes your own ability
YOU’VE GROWN UP IN THE INDUSTRY – HAVE PEOPLE EVER TREATED YOU LIKE YOU’RE STILL A CHILD AS THAT’S THE IMAGE THAT HAS STUCK WITH THEM?
I don’t think people have the image of me as a child, I just think people have the memories of me as a child and I think in terms of maturing with your music that kind of filters out as you go along.
WHAT’S THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOB?
The hardest part of the music industry and my job is probably just trying to be better than yesterday. I’m spending a lot more time now making sure that my adult run is bigger than my childhood run in the industry but other than that I think it has way more pros than cons.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ‘PINCH ME’ MOMENT?
Hmm, my ‘pinch me this isn’t real’ moment was probably watching Chris Brown dance at the ‘Champion’ video shoot, he can dance!
DO YOU STILL GET STARSTRUCK?
I don’t get starstruck really to be honest, even when me and Chris first met we were just cool. But it was just when he was dancing it was something else, you’ve got to respect that, it was hard!
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR SOUND AND IMAGE PROGRESSING AT GRAND HUSTLE?
I think I’m always going try and look cool! But I think my sound will just mature as I do and T.I’s whole thing is ‘you’ve got the talent Chip, and I’ve got the phonebook’ so let’s work together and make it happen!
HOW HAVE THE US TAKEN TO THE LONDON SLANG – CAN WE EXPECT ‘FAM’ AND ‘BRUV’ ON T.I.’S NEXT RECORD?
You know what’s funny, I actually think he will do it just for a laugh. When we next do a track together he’ll say ‘fam’ or ‘bruv’ because he actually does say that in the studio. And ‘wicked cuz’!