As an artist who has already made a mark on the UK music scene with an array of big tunes over the years, Tiggs Da Author has returned with a new musical era, where he showcases a deeper reflection of his childhood and how his journey led to becoming the stellar creative we know today.
With a number of EPs behind him, the Tanzanian-born south London-raised artist has stepped up his sound as he introduces his first-ever album, Blame It On The Youts, and we caught up with him over Zoom to discuss the makings of his debut album, his biographical lyricism throughout his 11 new tracks and much more.
After taking in the vibrant, yet poignant project, my first question was wanting to know more about the creative process that led to the construction of Tiggs’ new project:
“It took me a long time to write it to be honest, it was just like writing bits of it here and there, I just had to be inspired, so I was going back home to Tanzania quite a lot. I was going for whatever inspired me at the time. I’ve always been a person who writes everything down, like some sort of journal. When it comes to music I know exactly what I’m gonna talk about in the album so it was just like back and forth, finding the right people to work with for this particular album, like producers, finding someone who understands what sort of sound I’m trying to create, so it was taking the influences of like Tanzania, mixing it with my influences from south London to create the music that you just heard.”
Were you a big fan or involved in music when you were living in Tanzania or were you too young to remember?
“Do you know what, when I lived in Tanzania, because I lived there til I was about eight, I wasn’t really into music back then. I was just like a football guy. Like, if it’s not Man United then I don’t wanna hear it. It’s only when I started secondary school, that’s when I started getting into music ‘cause you see the vibes, people are in the playground, everyone’s spitting bars and that and the girls are going crazy for it and you’re like ‘oh my days, I need to write some bars’. So I think that’s when I started getting into music. And then MCs coming up at the time, just hearing like Boy Better Know, Dizzee, Kano, everyone come through, and you’re seeing the videos on MTV Base and that and it just seems crazy, so everything just gets you fascinated at the time.”
Would you say that’s what got you into making music then?
“Yeah, I mean, I was always surrounded by people who were into music in some sort of way. Like my best friend, he was a DJ and I used to just follow him to like different places whenever he was DJ’ing. Whether it was a record shop in Brixton or like a pirate radio station in Peckham, we just used to go. Now really thinking about it we were just moving so mad going to like mad different ends, especially at the time, there was a lot of stuff going on, but we didn’t really care to be honest, it was all for the music. Wherever there was music, we’d be there. Whether it was some bashment party underneath the barbershop, we’re there. That was the big reason I started music to be honest, I think being surrounded by people who were already like in that world.”
One thing that stuck out to me when listening to your album was the prominent African influence, how important was it for you to incorporate sounds from those countries, Tanzania included, into the album?
“Most definitely, I feel like especially for my first album, I always had it in mind that I need to give people the right identity of who I am as a person and who I am as a musician. I felt like it’s important for people to know my journey as well so for them to get an idea of where I’m coming from and where I’m trying to go. So, me putting influences of like jazz music and influences of African soul in the actual music, that is one way of me showing people where I come from.
“In terms of the lyrics, the lyrics are more of a reflection of when I was growing up in south London, so a lot of it might have some political undertones ‘cause I mean at the time, like teenagers you’re going through a lot. That’s why even the title track and the actual album is called ‘Blame It On The Youts’, just based off what I was going through at the time – feeling like everything’s going against you. Society is pointing fingers at you, everywhere you go you’re getting profiled by police and getting stopped for no reason, so it’s almost like saying ‘you know what, you lot can blame us for whatever’. You’re gonna see a group of boys chilling and you’re gonna think it’s a gang and blame us for whatever you wanna blame us for, let me save you the time, just blame it on the youts, you know what I mean, and then we don’t even care anyway.”
You’ve said that this was kind of a biographical album – was it nostalgic in a sense for you to tell your story musically?
“Yeah most definitely, it still takes me back now when I listen to some of the songs. It really takes me back to different spaces that I was in in my life, like when I hear some songs I can really feel how angry I was at the time or just in terms of the emotions, it really hits home when I listen to some of the songs.”
I think it’s interesting that you have quite hard-hitting lyrics mixed with vibrant beats, it’s a unique way to get your story across – would you say it’s important for you to keep that balance to kind of identify your sound?
“I feel like everything on the album is very intentional so it’s up-tempo to reflect my mind-state at the time; everything was very intense in my teenage years, everything was fast-paced. One minute you’re chilling with your friends, the next minute you’re at a house party, the next minute you’re running away from something and I feel like you really need to get that feeling when you listen to the music. So that’s the reason why the music is up-tempo. In the future, I don’t know if my music is gonna be as up-tempo, I mean I don’t think I’m gonna be making any slow jams, but it all just depends what’s going on in my life, I just like to wear my heart on my sleeve and whatever’s going on in my life at the time, I’m gonna write about it.”
You dropped your EP Morefire in 2019, with a huge array of UK talent – how do you feel the process differed from the process for your new album?
“I mean I wasn’t really telling a story, everything’s like ‘batty rider this, poonani this’, it’s just vibes, and you don’t really need much to make vibes. It’s very straight-forward with songs like that I can just go in the studio and come up with tons of them but when you’re trying to tell a story and you’re trying to keep things cohesive from start to finish, it needs to be right. So, I really took time on the songwriting. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to that sort of thing, so I don’t mind however long it takes me and the songs on the album I actually wrote down in a book. Whereas with ‘Morefire’ I was literally just going in the studio and just trying different ideas, flinging them out and I just wanted to work with the artists that I liked.”
Have you documented/journaled any songs since then, in your book, that you hope to tell a story about in future within another album?
“Yeah of course, I’m literally non-stop writing, I’m always travelling around with my little book. I’ve got a book that has a little ‘Tiggs Da Author’ written at the front and I just take that with me everywhere so whenever I’m going on long journeys, short journeys, in the Uber, I always have it there because there’s always something on my mind. There’s other stuff in the book that I’m gonna turn into songs in the future.”
Do you feel like you have a favourite track on Blame It On The Youts? Or at least one that had a more memorable production?
“Maybe “Blame It On The Youts” because it’s the title track and I feel like the lyrics on that song sums everything up what I’m trying to say on the whole album in a nutshell. I think if you listen to “Blame It On The Youts”, it’ll give you a clear idea of what the album is about. But I love all of them.”
You’ve had quite a few collaborations with Nines which must be super natural for you both now – are there any collaborations with him we haven’t heard?
“I’m sure there’s some that you haven’t heard. We’ll just get in the studio and work on song after song really. There’s gonna be some in the future of course, so you’re gonna hear songs in the future with me and Nines.”
Out of all the artists you’ve worked with, would you say there’s one that sticks out the most to you for whatever reason?
Of course Nines is a given, it was good working on a project with J Hus – he’s just a super talented guy and we work well together as well. Even SL as well, he’s willing to take everything in and he’s super talented, he’s got his own vibe going on. Blade Brown’s another one who I work really well with and whenever we get in the studio, he just comes with his A game – it’s crazy!
“Steff too, she’s like a super sweet person so it’s always cool. With her it’s actually been good, we performed the song a few times and working on it was good but performing it was even better. She’s got all her dancers and they’re like dancing around me and that, it’s a vibe. To be honest, every collaboration I’ve done, I’ve enjoyed it. It’s not a thing where my manager reaches out to another manager and what not, they’re all just artists I have massive respect for.”
With that in mind, have you got any dream collaborations that haven’t been made yet?
“Giggs, oh my days! The way I wanna make a song with Giggs, you have no idea! I’ve been listening to Giggs before Giggs was like known Giggs, you get what I’m saying? So like school times I was banging Giggs before like “Talkin The Hardest” so I always told my friends ‘yo listen, I’m gonna make a tune with Giggs one day’. So it’s like one of those things and I feel like we’d work well together like I’ll do a crazy hook and then he just goes mad. Yeah man, GRM make it happen, you lot are the plugs. Giggs if you read this, holla at me my guy.”
Your songs have been featured in some amazing productions – “Oh My” was in Top Boy, “Run” was in Bridget Jones’ Baby – out of all of the accomplishments in your career, what would you say has been the highlight so far?
“I think Bridget Jones was pretty big for me, especially because it was like one of my first big achievements so it meant a lot more. Not that they don’t mean anything now but you know whenever something happens like for the first time it means a lot more. It almost feels unreachable until it happens and then you’re like, ‘Oh my God, my song’s on Bridget Jones’s Baby’, and it’s like the first song that comes on when you’re watching it. Next thing I know I’m invited to the film premiere and I’m walking down the red carpet, I’m like ‘Oh my days I don’t even know how to act right now’, so I think the whole occasion was a lot to take in. Yeah that was sick man, it inspired me a lot.”
Going back to Blame It On The Youts, the title in itself as well as a number of different lyrics on the album sheds light on the kind of world we’re living in today – what message are you hoping that people listening to it will take from it?
“For one, I know it’s easier said than done but to get through this world you need to be thick-skinned. Never sit there and always play the victim ‘cause it’s never gonna go anywhere if you do that, you know? You’re gonna defeat yourself. So the same way how I had that mentality of, ‘why am I getting stopped by police all the time? Every time I’m chilling with my friends, if police go past, they’ll turn around and come back for no reason whatsoever’ and you can either sit there and play the victim or be like, ‘you know what, the only way for me to throw it back in everyones’ face is me being successful’. So it’s almost like taking all the things that happen in your life that you’re not happy about and use that as the fuel to fire you up to overcome everything and just keep in mind what your goal is. So I’d want people to take that message.”
With a number of musical trophies under his belt, we’re sure to see a lot more from Tiggs Da Author in future, with his new album warming up his next steps in his career.
Take in Blame It On The Youts below!