Interview: Tinchy Stryder

Having predicted his future with his first number one single, the aptly titled ‘Number One’, 26-year-old musician, music executive and CEO of Takeover Roc Nation, Tinchy Stryder is currently prepping the release of his fourth studio album ‘Full Tank.’ The Star in the Hood sat down with The Wrap Up’s Alya Mooro ahead of the release of the album to talk expectations, pressure and what the next step entails…

The Wrap Up: Your first studio album was released in 2007. How do you think your sound has evolved since you first began?

Tinchy Stryder: I was actually listening to my first album ‘Star In The Hood’ the other day… it feels more raw, you can hear some held back anger, you can hear the fire and the hunger in me. From that to the next album ‘Catch 22’ I had grown more as a person and as an artist; I’d been through different things in life and [was] working with different producers. That was the most successful album I’ve had and that’s where I got all my chart hits. People might have been like ‘woah he’s actually changed’ but that’s like telling someone, ‘I remember you when you was this year old’, and a few years later you’re exactly the same. It doesn’t make sense, you have to grow and evolve.

TWU: Can you tell us a bit about what we can expect from your next album?

Tinchy: I feel like I’m starting again. It feels fresh and I feel that how I’m delivering and what I’m speaking about… I’m more sure of myself now. I’ve learnt, I’m still learning. Every time I’ve been in the studio recently I feel it is something powerful, and sometimes it’s a good problem because we’ve got too much to pick from. But I’m going to be real harsh with myself this time.

TWU: Where did you draw inspiration for your tracks for the upcoming album?

Tinchy: I’m talking about things like when everything looked down in music… where people are doubting and thinking ‘well, he’s done, what’s he gonna do now?’ Or even relationships. I’m opening up because a lot of people might think, ‘oh, what’s happening with you and her, what’s happening with them, what’s happening with music?’ I’m just laying it out and letting people know that we can all relate to each other in one way or another.

TWU: Having already had quite a few number ones, do you feel a pressure with your upcoming offering?

Tinchy: I did on my third album. I feel like it is not just me personally, but a lot of people on the team. Say I had a track and my first single got to number 10, they’d be like, ‘okay that was cool but maybe we need to do something else’ and I’m thinking ‘whoa! Where I come from we don’t even dream of top 40’s…’ You learn more from failure than success, which I’ve been told and experienced.

TWU: Having already achieved so much, what’s your next goal?

Tinchy: One of my main goals in my music career is to have a world arena tour. Just going around the world and everyone knowing your music… That’s one of the biggest goals I’d love to one day hopefully achieve. I don’t know how long it will take but you never know. Hard work pays.

TWU: You’ve worked with many artists. Who has been your favourite artist to work with so far?

Tinchy: I’d have to say Dappy. My first number one was with him; we did another track, ‘Spaceship’ and that got to number 5… it’s just fun. We’re friends, we get along, we speak about things other than just music. The connection and the natural chemistry is there when we work together. People keep asking us ‘maybe you should do another track or do an album together…’ you never know. Maybe we should get in the studio again.

TWU: If you could work with anyone in the future, who would you want it to be?

Tinchy: I’d have to say Kanye West. I think he’s just a genius – everything he does. When I listen to his tracks I feel like I’m watching a movie. Not many people can do that.

TWU: Who’s your guilty pleasure, music wise?

Tinchy: Ooof! I don’t know if it’s a guilty pleasure, maybe some people wouldn’t expect me to like it but… Taylor Swifts’ latest song. I saw her performing it and I was like ‘oh! This is your song I’ve been singing along to on the radio.’

TWU: When’s the last time you were star struck?

Tinchy: I don’t really get star struck but when I saw Jermaine Jackson, I guess you could call it star struck… I was in a hotel in Dubai, everyone was talking normally but it felt like the place went silent. Everything felt like it was in slow motion then I just turned and I see him coming through. When he came and shook my hand I felt like ‘whoa!’ Some people just have that presence… I guess the only person who I’d have been star struck in front of would be Michael Jackson; rest in peace. When I was young I didn’t think he was human, everything seemed too perfect.

TWU: It’s pretty hard for urban artists to chart in the UK. What do you think makes you so different?

Tinchy: I think when I first came through I was doing something no one else was really doing. People love music but they have to like you and your whole character, your image. I was just being myself and people naturally connected; I’m just showing that it can be done; you can go from nothing to something. People can have great songs that might not chart, or songs that might not be as good that chart and it’s like ‘what’s happening?’ But it’s deeper than that. Everyone’s special in a way but not everyone’s chosen. I’m still trying to work out if I’m chosen or not.

TWU: What can we expect from your upcoming tour and what are you most excited by?

Tinchy: I want to keep it intimate. I like when it’s closer and they’re few venues. As the year is ending I was like, ‘you know what, there are a few shows I want to do but no more than a certain amount… and after that I’m not doing anymore.’ Next year everything’s fresh so I thought I might as well do a mini tour and just have fun with it. [I’m most looking forward to] being on stage. I actually love performing.

As written for MTV WrapUp

Tinchy Stryder x Alya Mooro

Interview: Angel Haze

Cocksure and seemingly dauntless, 21-year-old Angel Haze has an undeniable confidence in her musical offerings and abilities – a facet perhaps aided by the abundance of support and excitement surrounding her every move. Erupting onto the scene with ‘New York’ and accompanying mixtape, the ferociously spat offerings leave no doubt that a star is ascending. The Virginia hailing rapper recently sat down with The Wrap Up’s Alya Mooro to talk stereotypes, sexuality, and her duty to honesty…

The Wrap Up: Assuming your surname isn’t Haze, what is your birth name and what inspired your artist name?

Angel Haze: My birth name is Raee’n Wahya. The inspiration is just like metaphor – basically for being high, in every sense. And also because I thought; “if I were a porn star, what would my name be?” and that was just really the root of it.

TWU: The buzz around you right now is strong and steadily growing. Can you tell us a little bit about the steps leading up to this moment?

Angel: It was a lot of work! I feel like most of it was just cultivating and sculpturing and making my craft as good as it is now, so it can be recognizable to anyone… That took a lot of effort, and a lot of time where I spent being told by my manager, “you’re not good enough yet to come out, you’re not ready…” So I had to basically recondition myself and rework everything in my brain and just go for it from a different standpoint. Doing that and moving to New York, especially, and deciding to write and do my EP there, it made everything just a lot easier.

TWU: You haven’t lived there long but judging by your first single ‘New York,’ the city means a lot to you. How has it inspired your sound and what’s your favourite thing about it?

Angel: The craziness of the city, the boldness – you can walk down the street and see a girl sitting on the bench with her boobs out. It’s unexpected, it’s always something – it’s always something different and the culture is crazy and – you hate it but no matter where you go when you remember New York you remember loving the parts that you love.

TWU: You were raised in the Greater Apostolic Faith, a church you described as “a cult.” What impact do you think those experiences have had on your music?

Angel: I think overall it’s made me a more observant person. It made me learn quicker through experience… my own experience and those of others…. It was a bad experience but some really good things came out of it. Now, I just develop my own opinions on everything, and rework everything for myself instead of trusting what someone says just off that.

TWU: Your lyrics tend to be very honest. Do you ever have to tell yourself ‘hold up, that’s too deep?’

Angel: No, and you’ll see that in about a week when I release a new song. You’re gonna be like “Woah! Okay wait…”

For me it’s really important to be honest because if you’re selfish with your truth you’re also selfish with like, the light you can present to another person. It’s always important to be honest about everything because people in the world are going though exactly what I went through like… three days ago. And I could say “hey you shouldn’t walk over that thing you might fall in a ditch and die,” or, I could say nothing and then let them walk there and die… It’s always about being honest so that people know that they’re not alone in the world.

TWU: You recently said the Angel Haze persona is, in a way, the thing you don’t have the guts to be. How would you describe the other side of your personality?

Angel: It’s very shy and timid and standoffish. I like to be alone a lot – I’m really introverted. When I’m Angel Haze you see a totally different person, and that’s the person I want to be all the time but it takes too much energy and too much fearfulness to be like that… All I have to do is say “Angel Haze I summon you’ and then she comes and… it’s a problem.

TWU: We hear an Azealia Banks collaboration is in the works – when can we expect that? And do you have any other collabs lined up?

Angel: Our schedules have been so cluttered lately… I like to do in studio recording with people that I work with so… whenever the time presents itself; I think it’ll be a great collaboration. [Other than that] I don’t know if they’re ones I can necessarily speak on, but… I did one recently with Rita Ora… I’ve actually done something for Vince Kidd’s album… so that’s going to be really cool. I want to work with Adele, but everyone knows Adele does not work with people.

TWU: Female artists of the 21st century such as yourself, Azealia, Gaga, Ke$ha and others have reportedly come out as bisexual. Why do you think this is happening now and what impact do you think it will have on people’s mentalities?

Angel: I think it’s just the world we’re living in, it’s shifting, it’s changing… It’s more okay to be who you are than it ever has been… I think it resonates the fact that you can really do and be anything you want. And really sexuality doesn’t define you, it doesn’t limit your talent, it doesn’t limit your skill set. Just be you. And that’s the best way to be.

TWU: A UK female rapper named Lioness has a song called “Good for a Girl,” inspired by her annoyance of always being told she’s ‘good for a girl.’ Do you think feel that that is a reality of the music industry? Or have artists like Nicki Minaj facilitated the path for women like you?

Angel: At the end of the day it’s more difficult to break through because of the stereotype that some females have allowed males to set for them. The “sex sells,” the, “I have to be overly, hyper sexualized all the time.” … It’s so hard for a female to be taken seriously because that’s the tone that’s been set. Even though Nicki Minaj may at times talk about “oh I like bad bitches,” or “I’ll suck your dick” or something like that, she always comes with real lyricism. Or like, Jene Grae or Nitty Scott or people like me… I don’t talk about sex because, it’s not important to me and it’s none of anyone’s business… It depends on the people who are tastemakers now in this day and age to change what the perception of female rap is.

TWU: What’s your definition of success, in terms of achievement?

Angel: I think mostly, the only thing I really care about is affecting the lives of the people I touch… changing them in positive ways, and just continuing to be me, and have that be enough. That’s all I really care about in life and… obviously being super rich.

TWU: How was performing in Hoxton last week? Do you feel UK audiences receive your music differently than in the US?

Angel: F*cking insane. Insane. I was like wait… I have to breathe. I was signing f*cking ticket stubs and pictures and taking pictures… I feel like the UK, you guys genuinely f*ck with something because you f*ck with it, not because its been force fed to you. It’s like if I like it, I like it, if I don’t, oh well – I’m not going to waste my time saying all these negative things or whatever… I feel like the embrace that you’ve given me has just been incredible. Versus America, versus any other place its like; this is the place that’s the best.

TWU: Following ‘Reservation’, what’s next and when can we expect a debut LP?

Angel: I have a new mixtape coming out on the 25th [of October], and then after that there are going to be six or seven four song EPs. And then the album comes out next year in May. Working hella hard, man.

As written for MTV Wrap Up

Alya Mooro x Angel Haze

Should police officers be armed?

A foray in the United States confirmed what many already knew, Americans are deathly afraid of their police force. Why? Undoubtedly because they are armed to the teeth with artillery. Our police force? Not so much. As evidenced by the mass riots which took place in London just over a year ago, and the more recent death of two police officers in Manchester at the hands of gun crime…

“Your police officers don’t have guns?!” exclaimed a group of thoroughly shocked Americans during the course of one of our UK vs. US comparisons, before going on to add that if US police officers didn’t have guns there would be anarchy twenty-four-seven.

It’s the single, stand out feature that produces a wealth of a gap between the British police and their counterparts in other countries. And yet it remains thoroughly unremarkable to the British public. That is, until unarmed officers like Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone are shot dead in the line of duty.

But would an arming of the police result in any positive repercussions?

Home secretary Theresa May suggests that it wouldn’t, stating “I think we are clear we have a British model of policing that is one that our police very much support… I don’t think this is the time to be calling for the arming of police.”

But what is the logic behind this?

In a country where there are 90 guns for every 100 Americans and around 85 fatal shootings a day, it would make no sense for the police not to be armed, when the public themselves are.

But in the UK, a country where firearms are tightly controlled by the law, with only 388 firearm offences in which there was a fatal or serious injury in 2010-11, do we really need to introduce such a final decision making of a weapon into the police force?

Arguably, why fight fire with a grenade if the fire can be put out with less extreme of a method?

Greater Manchester Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy supported this notion, arguing: “We are passionate that the British style of policing is routinely unarmed policing. Sadly we know from the experience in America and other countries that having armed officers certainly does not mean, sadly, that police officers do not end up getting shot.”

This is a position shared by 82% of the Police Federation members who were asked their stance on the situation in a survey carried out in 2006.

Undeniably, the public should feel some element of fear towards the police. But is a gun really necessary in order to instill that? Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg suggested that arming the force would bring with it a big change in policing culture, one that could bring with it considerable risks, with several suggesting that this would undermine the principle of policing by consent, and would send the message that the force owes its primary duty to the state, rather than to the public.

And, question of fear aside, why put dangerous elements onto the road even more than they are already present? Carrying a gun brings with it the responsibility to shoot, if need be. It also brings with it the responsibility of protecting that gun, lest it be used against you.

But many disagree. Darren Rathband, twin brother of police officer David Rathband who was shot and blinded by a fugitive said, “How many officers need to die before the powers realise that it is the 21st century and you cannot fight crime with an outdated piece of plastic and a bit of spray.”

What do you guys think? Does an eye for an eye make the whole world blind, or do the police really need to have a one up?

As written for SB.TV

Why do we care more about the Paralympics now than ever before?

Seventeen days after the country, and the world, were held enamoured by the 2012 Olympics, a peak audience of 11.2 million tuned in to watch the opening ceremony of the Paralympics; a massive four times the number that tuned in to watch its last opening ceremony. And although this is significantly less than the 26.9 million that tuned in to the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, coupled with the fact that ticket sales for the Paralympics have also been extraordinary, its undoubtedly a massive improvement

But why do we care more, now, than ever before? And what effect will this have on attitudes towards disability?

The existence of Martine Wright, a Paralympic athlete who lost both her legs in the 2005 London bombings is perhaps as good an example as any in terms of why over 14 million people, who previously didn’t really care about the Paralympics, now do.

After all, what’s more heartwarming, uplifting and inspiring than the tale of triumph overcoming adversity? Of strength and persistence transcending misfortune? And, as is human nature, this is all the more so when it’s something that could happen to any one of us. As one of the presenters at the Paralympics opening ceremony said after speaking to Martine, “fate is what happens to us, destiny is what we do with it.”

But why do we care so much more than we did four years ago? And suddenly, it clicks. We need this. We are a generation that is being told we will be the first, ever, to live worse than our parents. We are a generation that is struggling to find jobs, to find housing, to fund the lifestyles that are more and more being hailed as imperative. We need this.

And so our fascination with the Paralympics? Undeniably at the least partially linked to one simple fact; that every story ever told centers around one truth; that good will overcome evil. That faith will triumph in the face of difficulty.

Little Red Riding Hood beating the big, bad wolf, Snow White triumphing over the evil Queen, Paralympians conquering adversity. We need this.

“The Olympic athletes created role models for non-disabled people…” said Ben Rushgrove – a sprinter who has cerebral palsy and is due to compete in the 100m and 200m during this years Paralympic games.

“…The Paralympics I’m expecting will create role models for both disabled and non-disabled people. If people are impressed by the running of Usain Bolt for instance they might say: “I could never be that quick.” But what about the achievements of an athlete with one leg for example?”

Will it change attitudes on disability? How can they not? After all the good is the handicapable, and the bad are simply all those who don’t believe in the power of strength, hard work and perseverance.

Should artists have their music released after they die?

At a time where technology allows the resurrection of musics late, great artists, the likes of Tupac to reappear unblemished before us via hologram, and posthumous albums emerge seemingly from nowhere, is there anything left sacred? And should Drake – or anyone, for that matter – be releasing music on someone else’s behalf?

With the emergence of ‘Enough Said’ several days ago – Aaliyah’s ‘duet’ with Drake on the Noah “40” Shebib produced track – the interwebs erupted and divided into two very clear sects; those who believed the track is awesome, and those who believed that Drake’s Aaliyah super fan status did not attribute him worthy to executive produce her posthumous album, and that someone like Timbaland or Missy Elliott should instead be awarded the honour.

But, the question of who is the reverse grim-reaper aside, perhaps it’s more important to consider if it’s ever acceptable to release someone’s music after they die. After all, isn’t their music the gift awarded to them, and us in turn? Shouldn’t they be the ones to decide how to package and present it?

This question is all the more important with new information which reveals that Aaliyah’s family have denied any and all involvement in her posthumous album. ”There is no official album being released and supported by the Haughton family,” said the late singer’s brother, Rashad Haughton.

Having obtained some of Aaliyah’s previously unreleased vocal tracks, Young Money’s Drake added his own verse in which he brags about his watch, laments various first world pains and appears to further diss Chris Brown after their brawl in a nightclub several months ago.

The extent of or lack of Drake’s prowess is not something that particularly needs to be covered in this discussion but, who said Aaliyah wants any of that on one of her tracks?! (Who said she was happy with those vocals to begin with or that she wanted them heard by the world?) But more importantly – who is Drake to change the legacy Aaliyah left behind?

Music producer Flying Lotus appears to feel the same way, saying “When I’m dead, don’t mess with my music. Don’t be having whoever ‘finish’ my demos n shit. Fuck that.”

Someone once said: “art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in,”and as such, what emerges his wholly personal, and special, and private. That art and the people who bare their souls to provide this art become stars and phenomenons should not take away from the heart of the matter. Namely, that art is a form of expression, and as such, that the power, or the meaning, or the substance behind it should not be borrowed, or lent, or stolen.

Written for SB.TV

Are we taking the human aspect out of communication?

With the advent of new technology like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogging sites, which serve to forever change the ways in which we communicate and share our stories, perhaps it should come as no surprise that the number of phone calls made are found to be in serious decline, while texting is going up…

For the first time in history the volume of calls from mobiles and landlines has fallen. Media regulator Ofcom recently published a report that found that the total number of texts sent in the UK topped 150 billion in 2011, whereas calls from landlines fell by 10%, and calls from mobile phones also went into reverse.

But what kind of impact does this have on our communication? It’s no secret that in a world who’s pace is forever quickening, we have less and less time to communicate with those around us – eyes down, headphones in on the tube we stare blankly ahead. Reaching for our phones we snap photos and type quick 140 character blurbs of how we’re feeling, what we’re doing and who we’re seeing. BBMing and whatsapping away, all the while ignoring the vibrating, screaming phone calls which seem more and more to feel like an intrusion into the bubble we’ve found ourselves in.

This is something James Thickett – Ofcoms director of research also picked up on. “We are all familiar with the sight of people looking down, brows furrowed, tapping on a plastic screen,” he said. “What we are seeing is different ways of keeping in touch. Smartphones and tablets have substituted for making voice calls. It’s about convenience.”

But what about the seven hour phone calls late into the night with your best friend or your boo? The epic teenage phone calls when you used to speak about anything and everything. Can texting, or tweeting, or emailing really replace that? And what about when you’re trying to get a point across, debate an issue or solve an argument, is the anonymity that hiding behind a screen provides really going to help us in the future in terms of being able to speak eloquently or get our points across effectively?

“I’ll be surprised if, in the next 24 months, we don’t see people in the market place with data-only plans,” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said at a conference in June. “I just think that’s inevitable.”

Undoubtedly everyone wants to be heard, it’s a facet of human nature. But are we killing the art of communication? Are we taking the human aspect out of it by so blatantly ignoring the phone call? Can words on a screen replace the crinkling of the phone line as stories are exchanged, or the changes in octaves that come before or after a laugh? Does the need to be in control of every syllable, every sound we make come before the need for real human contact?

And maybe the real question is, are we really that busy? Or do we just think we are?

As written for SB.TV

Changing the law on forced marriage.

For many of us the summer months represent a time of freedom, where days are endless and filled with the things that we want to do. But for 1468 people last year, this wasn’t, and will never be the case. Instead, they found themselves forced into marriages they had never agreed to, with people they had never met…

“For some, summer represents a life they haven’t chosen, and don’t know how to avoid,” was the opening statement made by FCO Minister Alistair Burt at the launch of the Right To Choose Campaign yesterday.

Launched in an effort to raise awareness to the all too real reality that faces the youth, the summer holidays have been found to be the peak time in which young people are taken overseas and forced into marriages against their will. Often, they’re told they’re going on holiday to visit family, but once there, are isolated and unable to escape from the wedding, and the life that has been arranged for them.

FCO Minister Alistair Burt went on to reveal that the Prime Minster has already announced plans to make forced marriage illegal, but that the legislation itself is not enough.

Despite the fact that everyone in Britain, whichever religion or beliefs they adhere to, has the right to choose whether they wish to get married and who they wish to get married to, more often than we think – people are forced into marriage. Sometimes to someone they dislike or have never met. Sometimes they are too young to get married. Sometimes they are lesbian or gay and don’t want to marry someone of the opposite sex. Sometimes, they have no choice.

Therefore, in an effort to further raise awareness of the risks, and of the fact that help is available, three heart-wrenching and hard hitting short films have been developed to highlight the devastating effects forced marriage can have, and to remind young people that if they or someone they know are in danger, they are not totally helpless, and that help can and will be administered.

In the first six months of 2012, the FMU has given advice or support related to 747 possible forced marriage cases, with a 26% increase in the last month alone. At this age, and in the cultures where such instances are most common, a parents word is often the final one. This campaign, however, aims to raise awareness that this does not necessarily need to be the case, and that if you or someone you know are in such a situation, you are not alone.

Based on an amalgamation of real life scenarios and emotions, the hard-hitting clips remind young people to speak up if they think they or someone they know are close to danger.

Joint Head of the Forced Marriage Unit Amy Cumming implored: “Every day in the unit we see the devastating impact forced marriage has on individuals. Many of the victims who contact us have experienced horrendous sexual and physical violence. They endure intense pressure in many forms – whether emotional, financial or otherwise. Forced marriage affects many communities and cultures. Today, I’m strongly urging people to back the Right to Choose campaign: don’t leave it too late – call our helpline and get advice.”

This is not a case of see, speak, hear no evil. Doing nothing is not the answer.

Show your support for the campaign on Twitter by using the hashtag #RightToChoose
Watch the videos here

Get help

If you suspect that you or someone you know is at risk, call the FMU helpline – (+44) (0)20 7008 0151 – it’s totally confidential and is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You can also email fmu@fco.gov.uk. For out of hours emergency advice, call (+44) (0)20 7008 1500 and ask for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Global Response Centre. For more information, visit http://www.fco.gov.uk/forcedmarriage

As written for SB.TV