the records that changed tinchy stryder’s life

With Tim and Barry’s Ruff Sqwad-reuniting Just Jam cancelled, we catch up with the E3 MC.

by Nardene Scott
30 April 2016, 12:50am

It's been a while since east London spawned Tinchy Stryder. As a teen, he was busy shelling down Sidewinder sets and killing pirate alongside his best mates Ruff Sqwad; in his twenties, Tinch was topping the charts, headlining tours and chilling backstage with Jay Z.

As part of Ruff Sqwad - due to have performed at Just Jam tomorrow until it was cancelled - Tinchy was a key part of the Grime scene. 'It's really disappointing that Just Jam can't go ahead," says Tinch. "I was really looking forward to reuniting with my mates and giving the crowd a performance to remember. I'm sure Tim and Barry will rearrange something else and we will get to go ahead with the night as planned...."

Coming up via the early days of grime, the boy from Bow -- by way of Accra -- has carved out an impressive career for himself. From headphones to clothing and music to TV, there's not a lot Tinchy hasn't conquered. Now on the verge of dropping his fourth album, 360°/The Cloud 9 LP - combining his growth musically with his grime beginnings - we meet up with Tinchy to find out which records made an impression on his life. From stealing his brother's CD's and grime masterpieces to High Life classics - and of course a bit of Adele - check out his choices below...

The first album I bought was…

A lot later in life because I had older brothers and I always used to take theirs. The first thing I got myself was Jay Z's Hard Knock Life, by winning an MC competition at my friend's birthday. That's one of the first CD's I remember rightfully owning. That made me a bigger fan of Jay Z and then I got to meet him, which was weird, he was super cool. We went to watch a show of his, and his wife was there; I'm a fan of his music but I'm more of a fan of her! She was going crazier than we were, spitting every lyric. When we went backstage and shook his hand, he looked like he hadn't moved. I was thinking, why is he so cool and we all looked like we worked out? He said his show was like 65% and I was like, 'What?' The one thing he just kept on saying to me is, Stay focused.

Jay Z - Jigga What, Jigga Who

The Ruff Sqwad record that means the most is…

Hard to say because Anna was one of the first but it might have to be Xtra because it just represents us plus where we're from. And it features the whole of the Ruff Sqwad, each saying four bars, and that reminds me of pirate radio and how we first started out in our bedrooms.

Ruff Sqwad - Xtra

The best MC alive is…

The main man Will aka Wiley. When you say MC I think of grime because when you ask a hip-hop artist to freestyle, it's different because our freestyles are written and theirs are off the top. Kendrick is different, but the majority of them are not great. So as far as MCs go, it's Wiley man. His delivery is sharp; the amount of lyrics that he's been through in so many battles and songs, no one can really talk to him. Wiley used to come in and say things like, 'Yo it's the paper boy I'm in effect, directly from the Lon E3, I step it up'. I thought 'Wow, are you all right? Are you okay?' He's got so many bars; he will go on forever it just doesn't stop. But someone that I actually respect a lot is Kano. Kano is different. I always say that if you're a doing a song with him and you want a quick 8 bars, he doesn't know what that means. He's like, 'I need a 32 or something' whereas I'm like, '8? Wicked'. You can write before him or after him, it doesn't matter, keeping up with him is mad. He's been a problem.

Wiley - Westwood Freestyle

The best next up MC is…

Dave. If you're called Dave, you're different. Then I heard him, he's obviously young but he's spitting a lot of truth. You can believe his story, he sure of himself and I think he's got potential. There are a lot of people killing it right now, best of luck to everyone; but me personally, who I've heard stand out, it's Dave.

Dave - SBTV Warm Up Sessions

The song that brings me back down to earth…

Right now, it would have to be a song I listen to a lot, which is Adele A Million Years Ago. I heard her speaking about it and why she recorded it and I related to it. She was talking about walking past her old area and where she used to chill and she started crying because when she meets people, she feels like she needs to make jokes and act fake because people don't know how to act around her. I get that because you see people you know but they don't know what to ask you, they think you've changed but they want to try and be normal. So that song, I relate to a lot because I was going through a few things at that time.

Adele - A Million Years Ago

The song that reminds me of family get together's is…

Probably something by Daddy Lumba. I'm from Ghana, so before Afrobeats, it was Highlife. When we had family get together's there was always Ghanaian songs being played. I wasn't allowed to put on grime; they'd be like, 'What? Sorry'? Even Busta Rhymes was too much for them.

Daddy Lumba

I celebrated Number 1 going No. 1 by…

Making another song that went to No.1! No honestly, when I got told about that, I was like, 'You're lying'. We celebrated with friends and family because we were on tour. Only recently I was with the producer, Fraser T. Smith and we said, 'Sometimes it's good not to enjoy something whilst you're living in it but appreciate what you've done because those things are not everyday things'. It was No. 1 for a month, so it was a long celebration…!

Tinchy Stryder Ft. N-Dubz - Number 1

The instrumental that still makes me want to grab mic is…

Dizzee Rascal Ho, that's one instrumental I actually love; I feel like I'm just stuck in Bow with this list. I remember going to a rave somewhere in South London and the place went mad when that came on. In those days although I liked what Dizzee was saying, I was always thinking, 'Look at what that beat did to him'. People were like,' it's his lyrics' but it needed the beat. It's crazy how everyone thinks it's easy to just make beats like it's nothing.

Dizzee Rascal - Ho

What I learned from hanging with the 'elders' in Roll Deep…

I learned a lot from Flowdan about owning the stage. I was shy, so I used to have my hat low, big hair underneath with a big hood and just go to the rave, say my lyrics and go home. But Flowdan told me to remember every time you go on stage, they're here to see you, you're not here to see them, so enjoy yourself. He made me more confident in that way. I always tell him thank you, you'll never understand how that one conversation we had that day changed things.

Flowdan - Terrible Freestyle

The track that transports me back to being a school kid…

is hard to pinpoint but if I was to say one, it would be Creeper by Danny Weed. It would definitely be an instrumental because we used to MC, so we used to go to Rhythm Division to buy new vinyl. Because I was around Wiley, I got to MC on Creeper quite a lot ,but I remember heading to Rhythm Division because it was there you could hear all the new music.

Danny Weed - Creeper

@tinchystryder releases 360°/The Cloud 9 LP on 29th April via Cloud 9 Records


 Text Nardene Scott

Tinchy Stryder
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