Because of grime’s roots in East London, the capital has overshadowed the underground movements which have spawned in other regions of the UK for many years. Recently, however, we have seen the rise of Birmingham’s new grime scene as a new wave of talented artists from Brum have been consistently releasing hits while simultaneously putting their scene on the map.
One of the most prominent figures from the Brum scene is Tempa, a skilful rapper with an energy reminiscent of the early grime years; an energy which has gained the attention of legends such as Skepta and Kano. Tempa has dropped a number of bangers and cold freestyles over the years and his new single “Gimme Respect” is another track to add to the rapper’s impressive catalogue of music. We recently caught up with Tempa to talk about his new single, his upcoming project, the Birmingham scene and more. Check out Tempa’s exclusive interview with GRM Daily below.
You and Swifta Beater have made tracks in the past and you recently teamed up to create your new track “Gimme Respect”. How did that come about?
“Swifta just sent me the beat and the rest was history from there really. When I played the beat, that’s what came to my head straight away. It was kinda one of them ones.”
It’s a bold and direct track. Is it aimed at anything or anyone in particular?
“It’s aimed at the industry. Obviously the streets give man respect anyway but industry-wise, like radio and things like that, you don’t really get that much respect innit. So it’s kind of aimed at them to be fair.”
Like many of your tracks, it’s got that old-school grime energy. Who were you listening to growing up?
“I used to listen to the normal ones really. Obviously there’s Birmingham MC’s as well but you probably won’t know them. But a lot of Birmingham MCs and the predominant MCs in London like the Skeptas, the Dizzees, the Wileys and the Kanos. Them kind of man, still.”
Who exposed or introduced you to those guys and grime in general?
“My sister’s older than me so she used to go to Garage Nation and bare different raves. So the tape packs that she used to bring home from the dances, and just hearing man just MC’ing and [mashing] up the whole place.”
What made you want to get into that and pursue a career in music?
“The tape packs! For me, hearing the response of them man jumping on the mic and the whole crowd going crazy, getting wheel ups and the reaction from the crowd. That just made me fall in love straight away.”
The reaction to your “GarageSkankFreestyle” was nuts and Kano even shouted you out on Instagram. How did it feel when a legend like Kano acknowledged your freestyle of his track?
“I felt like I was the man! That 24 hours there, I was the main man!”
You got to support him on tour last year as well. What did you learn from Kano or just the experience itself?
“I learnt a lot, man! I just learnt that, really, we can actually do this. From him, from being so big in the game, to be shouting someone that’s nowhere near on his level, it just made me know that I’m definitely doing the right thing. Seeing the crowd and everything, man. Stage presence is a lot that I learnt from my man ’cause when he’s on stage, he’s fully interacting with the crowd. Whereas me, I was just looking at the mandem on stage. I wouldn’t even look at the crowd ’cause I was just that scared. Stage presence: that’s one of the main ones still.”
How do you think growing up in Birmingham has shaped your sound?
“Birmingham’s gully so you get a lot of influence off what’s going on in the streets and just in general. So it’s helped my content and everything.”
The Birmingham scene’s been active for years but it’s proper popping right now. When did you feel like Birmingham was getting the respect it deserves?
“Initially, it was when I first came out of jail and we done the remix to “Straight Up” and that popped off! Then two weeks later, Skepta shouted man saying he wants to do a remix and from there I was thinking ‘Yo, it’s mad!’”
Why do you think it took so long for the industry to actually jump on to the Birmingham scene?
“London’s a big place so there’s a lot of artists for them to deal with let alone see the rest of us going on. So I reckon that’s what it was, man.”
What would you say are the main differences between the London scene and the Birmingham scene?
“I think Birmingham music’s darker, you know. We’re still struggling. There isn’t really much struggle [in London] because you could walk around the corner, and you’re on Kensington High Street and you’re by Universal whereas when we’re in town, there’s nothing like that around us. We can’t do things like that so we’re more deprived of things.”
You recently mentioned in an interview that you plan on dropping a mixtape. What can we expect from that?
“Bangers, good collaborations and a strong body of work.”
Any collaborations in the works?
“Yeah, definitely! I don’t wanna give it away. It’s gonna be my fist ever body of work so I don’t really wanna give it all away. It’s in the making right now as we speak.”
Do you have a release date or title for the project?
“Before the end of this year. That’s all I’m gonna say. I like to surprise them! I like to just drop stuff. But before the end of this year you’ll definitely have a project off of me.”
Which artists are you feeling right now?
“Right now, I’m feeling Meek Mill and 21 Savage. They’re albums, that’s what’s getting banged right now! But UK-wise, Dizzee’s new ting, I’ve been rocking that. I’ve been rocking Fredo’s and the obvious ones like the Ghetts’, the Kanos, the Skeptas and Birmingham people. I listen to a lot of Birmingham artists like Lotto Boyz, Scorpz, Jaykae, [Dapz On The Map], Mist, [Young Smokes]. There’s a lot, man.”
Any up and coming artists in Birmingham that you’re feeling?
“Ash Trillest is one of the main ones you have to look out for. Remz, Mowgli. There’s a lot, man!”
What else have you got planned for the rest of the year?
“I’ve got a few shows lined up. For all that, follow me on Instagram. That’s where you’ll be able to keep up to date with what’s going on.”