It takes a prodigious amount of self-discipline, talent and dedication to wear as many hats in the entertainment industry as Tinie Tempah (née Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu) does. Born in London to Nigerian parents, the 27-year-old artist has managed to become the UK’s most successful rap artist in chart history and, as of last year, was appointed as the new ambassador of his native city’s menswear-dedicated fashion week, London Collections Men.
Recently, Tinie took some time from churning out chart-topping hits, running his own record/fashion label and working on his third studio album (more on that below) to give us an exclusive tour of his palatial East London pad.
Tell us a little bit about the overarching design scheme throughout your house.
I bought the house off Alexander McQueen’s estate, he was the previous owner. My house was designed by David Adjaye who’s a world renowned architect and interior designer. I kept a lot of the original features and fittings McQueen had left, and just decided to modify it into my character.
It’s a pretty big Victorian House, but it was designed for someone with a bachelor lifestyle so it only has two bedrooms. My favorite part of my house is the basement: I redesigned the interior, and I exposed a brick wall inside and added a few fun features. I wanted a den where I could entertain my friends.
I keep my Nike Mags – which I bought at the Nike/Michael J Fox fundraiser for Parkinson’s a couple years back – in the corner so everyone can see. I also have a popcorn machine and a projector for films and gaming, a punching bag, arcade machine, table tennis and a one-off bicycle I bought from the Detroit bicycle company. I’ve turned the other side of the basement into a gym, where I also have a steam room.
My bedroom has a panoramic roof so I watch the sky or whoever up there. I have a grand Yamaha piano that I bought when I was dating a singer so she could play me songs and vibe in the living room.
There seems to be quite a few exotic conversation pieces decorated throughout your house. How did you acquire them? Any meaning that went behind your choices?
I wasn’t really sure about taxidermy at first. I did some research about the pieces that he [McQueen] had left, and I learned that they all died from natural causes. Being of Nigerian decent, I have an affinity for exotic animals, so it’s nice to feel like you can be anywhere in the world when you’re in my house.
McQueen left an amazing bespoke ostrich L-shape sofa. In London, it’s very rare to find outdoor garden space and I wanted mine to feel very multicultural, so I designed it with Japanese-style bamboo all around, with waterfalls and koi fish in the ponds.
What do you like most about your location? What’s the most important thing about where a home is located?
I love the fact I’m in East London. It’s youthful, up-and-coming and forever changing. Every other day there’s something popping up and there’s so much street art, which always keeps me inspired.
It’s the kind of place you might see a yummy mummy driving through the village in her Porsche but you could still see a junkie on the corner. I like that. It’s a bike ride away to Shoreditch house, where I like to hang out after hours, and it’s also 10 minutes away from my studio.
You were recently chosen as the ambassador for LC:M. What role does fashion play in your life?
As an artist, fashion is a big part of what I do. I love the imagery and the references from the iconic artists that have come before me. Fashion plays a huge role in my style, videos, tours and performances.
What music projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on my third album and I’ve just signed my first producer, Nana Rouges, to my publishing company, Imhotep. He’s produced my latest single “Girls Like” and he also produced “Trapping Ain’t Dead” for Section Boyz.
I am also working on my residency at Disturbing Ibiza which will be taking place in Ushuaia in Ibiza throughout the summer.
What can we expect from your forthcoming LP?
The album should be done by the end of summer, it’s the project I’ve had the most fun making. So expect great things, and you will definitely see a different side to what you already know.