“She says she likes my watch, but she wants Steve’s AP.” The opening lines of the 2010 rap collaboration Miami 2 Ibiza, make reference to the wristwatch of choice of Swedish House Mafia’s Steve Angello and, at the same time, clearly state the aspirations of their then 21-year-old author, UK grime artist Tinie Tempah. Now the proud owner of several Audemars Piguets, the road to watch superstardom has closely echoed his career path.
Born on 7 November 1988, for Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu Jr – aka Tinie Tempah – music has always been a passion. “Making a living from music was one of those things that everyone else thought was crazy and far-fetched,” he says. “My mum would tell me that she always wanted to be a singer but then she grew up. I guess I never wanted to grow up if it meant that something I dreamt about so frequently, something I really believed in, may never actually happen. At first it was a hobby but I started taking it seriously from the age of 14.”
Coming from a traditional British-Nigerian home, where education and academic achievement are paramount, Tempah did well at school, gaining 10 GCSEs and three A-levels – although surprisingly not in music. “The music classes involved studying classical music,” he says shaking his head. “There was nothing on offer relevant to what I wanted to do. You have to remember that until 10 years ago, the kind of music I wanted to make wasn’t welcomed on the radio. People weren’t saying: ‘Oh we’ve been waiting for this!’ It was a fight and a struggle and I didn’t feel school music was relevant to where I wanted to go.”