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From Tottenham to Atlanta via two albums, five mixtapes and numerous chart-topping singles, UK rapper Chip has morphed from spitting in his youth club as a teenager to a prominent 21-year-old artist, working with some of the biggest names in the business: Chris Brown, Keri Hilson, Trey Songz... Now signed to hip-hop heavyweight TIs record label Grand Hustle, Britain’s latest export chats to Flavour Ed Annika Allen about how he plans to conquer America...

With UK rappers Estelle and Tinie Tempah achieving huge success in the US, it was only a matter of time before another British rap talent took a chance on US stardom. Enter Chip. After parting with his previous label Sony, he had his eye firmly set on America.

‘I had major label propositions over here, but I don’t believe that A&Rs in the UK had a global vision for me, so me and my management team decided to take matters into our own hands, packed our bags and moved country! There were a few people in America interested in me and had a global vision. I met up with TI and we clicked. I’m very excited. He’s got the faith, he’s got the belief and the phone book; so now we’re rolling, man. Grand Hustle, Hustle Gang.’

It’s not only his label that’s changed. On January 13, 2012, he announced via Twitter that he was dropping the ‘munk’ and simply going by Chip. ‘I’m getting older, I always thought, how can I be 35 and still be called Chipmunk, knowing it was a bad nickname that stuck. I thought, I’m 21, new direction, new team, newish name.’

Fortunate normality We’re having this conversation at south London’s ICandy Studios for our cover shoot, and despite having only arrived back in the UK from Atlanta two days earlier, and having partied the night before, Chip’s full of energy. He steps on-set to reggae blasts from the stereo. Chip begins to dance. Relaxed, his time in the southern state seems to have done him good.

‘I get normality in America,’ says the MC. ‘That’s something I haven’t been fortunate enough to have since the age of 16. If there’s a party, I’d


be the main guy. So it’s cool to be able to walk around and take the odd picture here and there. I mean, I definitely appreciate my fans, but it’s nice to do some normal shit here and there.’

Creatively free He’s also been busy recording his forthcoming mixtape London Boy, mixed by DJ Drama. ‘In order to get everybody’s attention in America you’ve gotta make a hot mixtape, so we sat down with TI and everyone to talk. It’s sounding really good. I’m proud of it. It’s the first time I’ve been absolutely creatively free since I was 16.’

Chip’s quick to insist he never made any music he didn’t want to make. ‘I haven’t ever been forced to do anything. But you bear in mind who you’re making songs for. This time I feel free to say anything I like, working with who I like, producers I have never met before through Twitter. Just going for it, man. It will be very interesting to see what the mixtape does. I sometimes don’t feel it, but I know everyone’s watching. It’s a collective of globally respected artists coming to work with a British rapper on a mixtape. Not on an album, on a mixtape.

‘It’s good for up-and-coming rappers who aspire to work with people I’m working with to realise it is possible,’ he adds. ‘It doesn’t have to be via a major label. People need to understand how much of a big deal it is to be respected by artists globally. The biggest artist in Jamaica, Mavado, works with me. The biggest artists in America work with me. It’s all about creating the right infrastructure and movement at the time. And shout-out to DJ Drama who hosts the mixtape. DJ Drama is the mixtape king in America and only puts his name to the hottest mixtapes.’

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