Our latest Yummy columnist Anyiko Owoko manages to pin down English rapper and producer Tinie Tempah during a recent visit to Nairobi for his Jameson Connects Kenya concert.
Famed for global hit songs like Pass Out and Girls Like Feat. Zara Larsson, Tinie Tempah— née Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu, is a quirky yet down-to-earth guy. For our Yummy Magazine interview, he shows up wearing a tiny golden burger chain and when asked what he would like to eat, settles on plain rice. Even though he’s lived in Britain all his life, Tinie never forgets his Nigerian roots. His face lights up whenever the talk turns to African food, so we instantly settle in to chat about his favourite dishes, places to eat and what’s on his hospitality rider.
Tinie Tempah originated as a childhood name in reference to your personality, do you still feel like it fits you now?
Yes! I always felt like it’s a good name. I think it’s fitting yet weird that people still pronounce it differently around the world.
What do your friends and mum call you?
Just T, though my Nigerian name is Chukwuemeka.
How did your expectation of Kenya compare to what you’ve experienced so far?
I am originally from Nigeria and growing up in Britain we heard luxurious things about Kenyan wildlife and nature. It was amazing to finally go to the [Nairobi] National park. I hope to do a safari before I leave.
In 2007, you founded Disturbing London Records alongside you cousin and manager, Dumi Oburota. Why the title ‘Disturbing’?
Tinie: I’ll let Dumi speak on that …
Dumi: We chose the name Disturbing London because we’re very proud to be from London and wanted to disturb it [musically speaking]. The name is also easily adaptable. Everywhere we go, we disturb it – now we’re disturbing Nairobi!
You are a prominent fashion figure. How would you describe your style and expression?
You describe me.
You don’t try too hard. Your sense of fashion is comfortable and edgy.
I am good with that.
You have signed Wizkid to Disturbing London and you both collaborated on your single Mamacita. What’s your relationship like?
We became friends and when he joined the Disturbing London family. In 2013 we started making records. Our relationship is kind of a lot of things because we’ve put our country [Nigeria] on the map and did crazy things despite the situations we grew up in. Just before coming to Kenya, we were together in L.A. where we recorded some music. He will be releasing a new EP soon.
Tell us about Nigerian food culture?
Suya for us is the main dish we enjoy. Obviously there’s Jollof rice, I love Egusi soup, plantain, beef and pounded yam! There are so many different things – Ogbono soup, Okra soup, Moi Moi, Edikaikong, Amala and Moleka. My favourite place to eat is at home.
What’s a special meal your mum cooks for you and a meal that you whip to perfection?
That’s probably pounded yam and Egusi, definitely. For me, I could make a really good breakfast. What I can make in confidence is salmon, sweet potato, vegetables and a salad on the side.
What’s in your hospitality rider?
Popcorn – sweet and salty, have you tried it? It’s one of the greatest inventions of all time … Lots of fruits as it’s quite healthy, and lots of alcohol! My ideal comfort food is African food and Caribbean food. There’s a big Caribbean food culture in London but the further you get out of London the harder it gets to get it. Have you ever tired Surinamese food? It’s a mixture of Caribbean food and Chinese food all into one and it’s really delicious – we try to have that too while in Europe I also love rice.
Coffee or Tea?
Whisky or Vodka?
Beer or cocktail?
Fish and Chips or Bangers and Mash?
Fish and Chips
Full English Breakfast or Sunday Roast?
Any other thing you want to share with your fans about your time in Nairobi?
As an African, I am really happy to be here to meet people and my fans – it feels good. This year I’ve been quite lucky to be in Africa a lot. I had a show in Nigeria and then shot my video in South Africa and now I am in the very beautiful Kenya. We’ll also go to Cape Verde before year ends.