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