How Tion Wayne, Edmonton Star Boy, Found His UK Rap Groove


Tion Wayne has formally arrived.

While it might have taken him over a decade to get right here, the rapper’s success story is one in all onerous graft and persistence paying off sooner or later, grateful for the time to good his craft and prepared himself for this present season of wins.

Inspired to get into music by watching native grime legends such as Scorcher and Terminator on their rise, because the early 2010s, Tion Wayne—actual title Dennis Junior Odunwo—has been on a mission to place Edmonton, North London, firmly on the map for UK rap, by way of now-classic freestyles and street-certified mixtapes. Though Tion revered grime, it was the grittiness of street rap that spoke to his way of residing on the time: the hustle and bustle of these chilly, chilly roads. And with that got here just a few stints in prison, which he discovered so much from. 

“I think a few mishaps throughout my career definitely slowed me down,” he says. “But I honesly believe that this journey has taken me to where I’m at right now. In my new documentary, I talk about how it was long, but it motivated me to do better and take my career seriously. Every great story has great tribulations, and that is one of them.” Indeed. In the same film, Tion talks about getting stabbed by the people he thought of to be friends at one level, all from him inviting different friends from different areas down to his video shoot. But that didn’t cease him from pursuing music. In reality, it simply made him work tougher at his craft.

From early hood bangers like “Can’t Go Broke”, “Bae” and “F U” to recent chart-invaders such as “Keisha & Becky”, “I Dunno” and “Body”, Tion Wayne’s profession trajectory has been nothing wanting particular to witness. While the personal dramas have been tea-worthy, nothing compares to the vibes-inducing music he places out into the world.

We caught up with Tion to debate previous vs new-school Tion, why he rides so onerous for Edmonton, the idea behind his new album, Green With Envy, and much more.     

“The new-school Tion wouldn’t exist without the old-school Tion, but the new-school Tion is a beast because of the type of animal old-school Tion was.”

COMPLEX: Firstly, congratulations in your new album, Green With Envy. From that epic freestyle over Big Pun’s “So Hard” in 2011 to now being a platinum-selling rapper, it’s been a journey of many ups and downs for you. How does it really feel to be Tion Wayne immediately?
Tion Wayne: Wow! That freestyle there may be old-school [laughs] Life is sweet, Mimi, but I’m still a hungry hustler with a great deal of ambition. I should add that I’m a really inventive man as nicely. 

It appears like every thing you contact turns into gold—or, should I say, platinum! How did “Body”, your No. 1 single with Russ Millions, really come about and what was it like listening to the information that you just topped the singles chart?

It was a surreal second and I can’t thank God, my followers, and my team sufficient. Me and Russ had been speaking for over a 12 months trying to get one other collab in together. We set the bar so high with “Keisha & Becky”, but we knew we would have liked to return again with even more warmth. We couldn’t simply launch something mediocre, so Russ despatched me the beat and I was like, “Yep! This one can work.” I mumbled the entire monitor, so we knew what route the song can be like, and Russ got here in with pure power, “Vida-loca, high as a kite never sober…” I was looking at him with pleasure, after which we actually went to work and made history. BOOM! We’re right here now—we’re number one.

Where does the story of Tion Wayne, the artist, begin? Take me again to your earliest connection to music.

All the olders in my space inspired me. I all the time had a love for music, but seeing guys like Scorcher, Dynamic, Terminator, Cold Blooded, they inspired me so much. When I was youthful, I taught myself the best way to play the drums and I used to analysis so much music, from Ja Rule to Biggie then rock and a little bit of Bieber. But the rap factor got here from me seeing these guys from my space straight spitting. But my generation on the time had nothing. I wished to be that man to signify and wave the flag for my space and put Edmonton firmly on the map.

You go onerous for Edmonton, that’s for certain.

Come on! From the lingo to the way we gown, every thing about me is Edmonton. We’re a small place in North London, and being from a small place builds character. I’m going so onerous for the realm—primarily as a result of all the life experiences that’s formed me into the person I’m immediately, and the people round me. The majority of my team all grew up together so it’s like a small family as a result of everyone knows where we got here from. If I grew up some other place, like Chessington, I don’t think I might be Tion Wayne; I’d most likely be a complete completely different person.

[Laughs] Not Chessington! Now, Tion, it’s no secret that you just was once on badness, and also you’ve been to prison just a few instances too. Do you remorse it once you look again on it, when it comes to your profession?

I think a few mishaps all through my profession undoubtedly slowed me down. But I honesly imagine that this journey has taken me to where I’m at right now. In my new documentary, I discuss about the way it was long, but it motivated me to do higher and take my profession significantly. Every nice story has nice tribulations, and that’s one in all them.

“Bring old-school Tion back!” Quite just a few people, most of them your day-one followers, have said this statement over the past 12 months or so. How does listening to that make you’re feeling?

I gained’t say it irritates me, but the album I created will cater to everybody. When I create these new Tion tunes, I reminisce on shows like Brixton, where most of my hardcore followers confirmed up for me in an enormous way. The way I course of, I think about large moments in my profession before the “new-school” Tion, and it evokes me to create the latest bangers we see immediately. I’m still the same Tion but for those who wanna discuss about the sound: I can do old-school Tion with ease. But there’s nothing incorrect with switching up the sound and doing what’s scorching right now. It’s onerous to grasp and adapt to completely different sounds, but I like to go out and in of various lanes as a result of it builds your platform and provides you more lifespan within the recreation. The new-school Tion wouldn’t exist with out the old-school Tion, but the new-school Tion is a beast due to the kind of animal old-school Tion was [laughs]. When I give the people old-school Tion, it’ll be refreshing.

Which Tion Wayne songs would you suggest to a possible new fan?

There’s the drill lane, so I’d immediately inform them to take heed to “I Dunno” as a result of it’s one in all my favorite drill songs, for many causes. It’s not the everyday drill sound; it’s so much more melodic, with all of the guitars and stuff, and the production differs from what others are doing within the genre. “Can’t Go Broke” is for my ride-or-die followers as a result of it goes way again—it shows one other aspect of me that the new followers gained’t know about. That song had the streets in a headlock and was a really large second in my early profession. “Me Or The Lifestyle” is one other one; it’s simply easy in comparison with the opposite songs. It has that R&B, hip-hop element and the song I launched with Davido, “Who’s True”, provides the same feeling.

Your movement has a little bit of a dancehall tinge to it, but you’re Nigerian, right? Did you grow up round numerous Caribbean people?

I’ve had many influences. Edmonton has so many backgrounds and cultures that I’m not shocked my movement has a little bit of a dancehall edge to it. I think it’s more of a London factor as a result of all of us grew up on dancehall, you then had Sneakbo and people guys doing their factor early on as nicely. So it’s undoubtedly London as a complete. 

“I consider myself one of the new leaders of Black British music, because—why not? Why shouldn’t I feel like that? If we’re talking about statistics and numbers, it speaks for itself.”

Image by way of Publicist

What’s the story behind the album’s title and the inexperienced theme all through the advertising?

The title comes from the truth that there’s people on the market who envy you, and most of them you’ll never meet in your life! The color inexperienced I affiliate with a number of things: cash, my space, fame and, after all, jealousy. It matches even more as a result of I had the police blocking my path from dumb circumstances I had beforehand, trying to pin me down during my profession. I class the police, judges, even some industry people as being resentful. I affiliate all of the people who were trying to dam my progress with that. So I really feel like Green With Envy represents me and my profession completely.

What’s your favorite collab on the album, and why?

My favorite? That’s onerous as a result of I’ve bought so much, but I’ll offer you three. “4 Life”, the monitor with Afro B, it’s up there for me as a result of it’s an upgraded model of our collaborations. The streets will certainly fee that one. RAYE options on “WYS” and she or he brings that old-school, feel-good vibe to the monitor, and it’s correct musical. She smoked it! The DBE joint, “West End”, and even the Davido one—they’re simply non secular. Just count on something and every thing from this album. I’ve bought the old-school Tion, actual rap, and drill for the new-school followers as nicely. I do know my day-one followers will fee it, but my new followers will also get to see me in a distinct mild as a result of they’ve never skilled my previous sound. It’s the best of each worlds.

All of your largest hits have had options on them, and your album’s also bought numerous options. I’m not mad at it, but I’ve seen people say they’re undecided you would get a Top 10 hit and not using a feature. What do you say to these people?

I really feel like they’ve underrated me. That No. 1 wasn’t a shock to me as a result of I’ve been working onerous and stayed constant. Plus I’ve had more than one Top 10 entry, so it’s not a fluke. My work fee isn’t in useless, and I hope my album shows that.

Throughout your profession, you’ve co-signed numerous rappers that we see making a stamp immediately. From bringing Dave and AJ Tracey out on stage to working with Not3s, Mist, Hardy Caprio and more, you seem to share your highlight so much. Why is that, and do you’re feeling like the power’s reciprocated?

I don’t think it’s all the time returned, but that’s okay. I all the time inform the people round me that I like see others win, and I all the time imagine in my means as an artist. So me giving the highlight to an up-and-coming artist, who later has a profitable profession, that’s me placing out positive power and contributing to a culture that I like and respect. I don’t have hidden competitors.

There’s a new college of leaders in Black British music—would you say you’re one in all them?

I contemplate myself one of many new leaders of Black British music, as a result of—why not? I don’t wanna sound like I’m bigging it up, I would like the people to decide as a result of it’s the culture, but why shouldn’t I really feel like that? If we’re speaking about statistics and numbers, it speaks for itself, and I hope Green With Envy shows why I should be talked about in these conversations.

You’ve had numerous personal dramas play out within the public over the years. Do you’re feeling like any of that overshadowed your music profession?

Yeah, I’ve had my moments, but I really feel like the songs I created overshadowed that. People can’t deny I create bangers that make everyone transfer, but when you live a public life, there’s some stuff it’s important to experience and I simply must deal with the music. My music will all the time be the speaking level.

With the album out now and doing its factor, what do you see for your self subsequent?

I’m taking a break, a critical breather, to simply benefit from the fruits of my labour. I respect the second as a result of once I’m again from my hiatus, people might be shocked once more. I wish to be inspired by life with my break so I can provide you guys one other album. I still see myself having a profitable music profession and having a strong music label. I simply wanna take more dangers, go into completely different industries and provides again to the community. 

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