To celebrate the release of his third studio album, YOUTH, Tinie Tempah opened up a unique pop up store in Protein Studios, a space in Shoreditch’s New Inn Yard - and transformed the venue into a treasure island finely decked with nostalgic themes that anyone who grew up in London’s suburbs could instantly relate to. The store was open for one weekend (Friday 7th April - Sunday 9th April) and featured Sliders barbershop, free Morley’s Chicken and even a Nintendo 64.
In the build up to the weekend, Tinie explained the concept of the event. He said: “this pop-up will take you on a journey through snapshots of my life. So I’ve put everything in there from a barbershop, similar to one my Dad used to own when I was a kid, and a Nintendo 64 - as I used to spend hours in my bedroom playing GoldenEye with my friends.”
He added, “there’s also a market place showcasing some of my favourite designers, as well as my own brand What We Wear because I used to go to the market to buy clothes! There’s also a Morley’s Chicken Shop because that was the spot in South London for me and my friends.”
We went down to the store on Saturday (April 8th) and saw it with our own eyes. Deep within the epicentre of London's artistic, technology and commercial region - Tinie Tempah sparked a huge cultural flame. It's rays could be felt in the summer heat. There was an air of celebration, a sense of relaxation and joy.
It felt like a traditional British African / Carribean family cook out. One could walk into one room and find fried chicken, Supermalt and KA. Into the next room one would find a punching ball and arcade. In the next room there was a free barbershop, and in the neighbouring room you'd find a recreation of Tinie’s bedroom. It was complete with pictures of artists all over the wall, Pokemon cards, Nike Air Mags and a Nintendo 64 on which a new generation of kids were playing Mario Kart. You could then move into the gallery and listen to Tinie's entire album through JBL speakers positioned directly opposite a stark neon sign stating "Youth Is Wasted On The Young". Then you could walk into the final section of the store, and find a finely chosen selection of clothing brands ranging from Tinie's own What We Wear, through to Marbek.
We caught up with a few of London's most talented creatives to get their thoughts about the event.
One such artist was Jordan Denzél, a fashion stylist and entertainment blogger who has previously worked alongside Stormzy's album launch and has created content for the likes of Stefflon Don, Jourdan Dunn, Desiigner and Justine Skye. When we asked him what the weekend meant to him, he said:"It’s about being entertained and having a good time. It’s about the music, fashion and day to day life. The concepts revolve around Tinie growing up and give us an authentic glimpse into where he comes from - and it's hosted in a trendy and convenient demographic location."
He continued: "We’ve got his bedroom, the Pokemon features, pictures of Aaliyah, Michael Jackson and Busta Rhymes on the wall. All of that’s important because it goes into his music and apparel. It’s something we can all connect to, and it’s very overwhelming to be a part of his story”.
Another incredible artist who we spoke to was Design Butler. Featured last year on NME X Adidas as one of the most exciting artists in the country, his delicate sketches and intricately minimalist designs capturing the essence of eclectic women that have brought him over 30,000 followers on Instagram and a feature on Kadeem Fletcher’s Digital Madrid 8. Butler also happens to have designed Tinie’s iconic album cover and is the creative director behind Tinie’s YOUTH merchandise. He said: “It’s about taking it back to the beginning. It’s so easy for people to forget their history. Tinie has had 7 number ones (two higher than the next most successful UK rap artist, Dizzee Rascal). It’s a statement to be able to say that he still knows where he came from. The fact that he became a pop star and yet has still managed to remain close to the scene is a true testament to him”.
Speaking about the diverse range of sonic influences on YOUTH, an album that Tinie has spent over the last two years perfecting, Design said: "I think that you make the music that you listen to when you travel. As you travel, your idea of music changes and you want to appeal to a much wider audience. There aren’t that many artists that can maintain that kind of duality; the ability to appeal to a wider audience but still stay connected to their core fans and history. I think Tinie’s one of the few that have nailed it."
The weekend was characterised by that a set of similar dualities. He promoted his new music by showing us his old life. The guest list was relatively surreal, attracting people from all walks of life. The heavy hitters came with appearances from the likes of Stormzy, Daniel Sturridge and Idris Elba. Cultural icons and curators including Mercedes Benson, DJ Cuppy and the Chicken Connoisseur stopped by. Music was provided over the weekend by Reprezent Radio's DJ Jeremiah, Kiss FM's Tinea Taylor, Radar Radio's Ralph Hardy, Capital Xtra's Yinka Bokinni, BBC 1 Xtra's Yasmin Evans, Rinse FM / NTS' Neptizzle, and Tinie himself. Excited fans got to listen to the artist's album a full week before it's set to hit streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. People enjoying their days were treated to free haircuts, and long time friend and family members got to see a city come together to celebrate Tinie's project and career thus far.
On the career front, Tinie has just released the video for his latest single "Chasing Flies" featuring Stoner. The video, directed by Emil Nava, offers a snapshot of what it takes to overcome adversity in contemporary British youth culture. The issues raised are characteristic of many of the tracks on YOUTH. The album's key message is that people should believe that they can overcome the challenges of their background in order to achieve truly great things.
Tinie Tempah's "Chasing Flies", featuring Nea
Tinie Tempah's "Text From Your Ex", featuring Tinashe
Tinie Tempah's "Shadows", featuring Bipolar Sunshine
YOUTH is scheduled for release on April 14th by Parlophone and Disturbing London Records. The first single “Not Letting Go” featuring Jess Glynne, was released back in 2015. That was followed in February 2016 by “Girls Like” featuring Zara Larsson. "Mamacita" featuring Wizkid was the third single, and the final two singles "Text From Your Ex" featuring Tinashe and “Chasing Flies” featuring Nea were both released on January 20th 2017.
2. Not For The Radio (featuring MNEK and RAY BLK)
4. Chasing Flies (featuring Nea)
5. Mamacita (featuring Wizkid)
6. Text from your Ex (featuring Tinashe)
7. Cameras (featuring David Stewart)
8. If You Know (featuring Tiggs Da Author)
9. Holy Moly
10. Girls Like (featuring Zara Larsson)
11. Something Special
12.They Don’t Know (featuring Kid Ink, Stefflon Don and AoD)
13. So Close (featuring Guy Sebastian and Bugzy Malone)
14. Find Me (featuring Jake Bugg)
YOUTH is available from April 14th, 2017.