He’s been away now he’s back but who is Chipmunk? Don’t let the headline fool you. Just because Chipmunk has been away doesn’t mean he’s not been hard at work. If anything, he has been busier than a busy bee seeking honey.
Already we’ve seen the talented rapper rise from the underground to the top of the charts after notching up five top ten singles, to winning a Mobo and even headlining his own UK tour.
However, there’s more to the infectious rapper, real name Jamaal Fyffe, as he aims to prove on his forthcoming new album, ‘Transition’. The album sees him unleashing a new side that we’ve never seen before, and Flavour’s Noel Phillips has all the details on the project.
Since making your debut in the charts over a year ago, you’ve so far enjoyed five hit singles, two MOBO’s as well as headlining your own UK tour. How much would you say your lived has changed?
It’s like nothings been the same. The only difference is before music was my hobby and education came first, now its like music is my life and it’s all I know. I’ve adapted to it and I am used to sharing my life with the public so that is the difference.
What’s been the biggest highlight of your career so far?
There have been a few different highlights especially with some of the people that I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the studio with on my second album. I cannot get in to the names just yet but I used to dream of this stuff. Also, playing at the Summertime Ball in front of 70,000 people was massive.
So, tell us who was Chipmunk at the age of 9?
Chipmunk was Jahmaal, who went to St Aidan’s Primary school, and was a crazy footballer.
Who was Chipmunk as a teenager?
As a teenager Chipmunk, was someone that grew up in a semi-rough environment that saw the outcomes of growing up in the hood, and managed to make a choice of what he wanted to be.
Who is Chipmunk now?
He is a 19 year old, recording artist that keeps his ball rolling while trying to take things further.
You’ve been busy working on your brand new album ‘Transition’, how’s it coming along?
With the new album I feel over the past year or so one thing that the public has had with me in particular is that they’ve been able to see me grow. I mean, you’ve seen me grow from that kid in the school uniform to ‘Who Are You’, ‘Beast’ and ‘Mohammed Ali’. Some people almost forget so its like then you see me again go from ‘Chip Diddy Chip’, ‘Diamond Rings’, ‘Oopsy Daisy’ to ‘Until You Were Gone’ and ‘Superstar’. The thing is they have not really been able to tie or affiliate me with a sound which is something that I did on purpose, and being so confident and thick skinned I was prepared for all criticisms as well as the haters, but who are they? It’s a new day today, a year ago it weren’t, and right now I am proud to know that I am partly the reason why it is a new day. When I am 30, and I look back at my teenage life it weren’t normal [laughs] you ask anyone who was at Haringey Sixth Form when I used to walk in it was always an event.
I’ve heard that you recently said that you’re starting all over again with the new album, why is that?
I am happy you’ve asked that, because I mean six months to over a year ago I literally told myself I was starting all over again. By starting again I don’t mean I have forgotten anything because the past is what makes the future, and the future can change the present.
Some people may say you’re taking your fan base for granted, is that the case?
No, I am not taking my fan base for granted and I don’t want anyone else to. In my head I see myself as a new artist without any fans hence the reason why I’ve got ‘Flying High’. To be honest I was in a bad place at the time so I had to step out of the scene, and go away to a hot country by myself to reflect on why I started music in the first place.
So, was the old Chipmunk on a hype?
I have never been on hype let’s be real, who tolerates a load of diss tracks like me? I just air them. I keep my circle tight and I feel that a lot of people wants to be friends with me but don’t know how to go about it. Some people love me but they express it with hate but I just take it like a pinch of salt, encouraging people that you can make it happen at a young age. So ‘Flying high’ is me reflecting and taking a backseat, and I was refreshed went I in to the studio feeling like a new person.
So, can you tell us something interesting about the new Chipmunk?
I’m just cool. This time I’m not taking anything for granted I just want to please my fans, that is it, but there are a set of people in the world who are never going to like me regardless of what I try to do. I haven’t got time for no negativity, it’s boring.
You’ve already teamed up with everyone from Beverley Knight, Tinchy Stryder to N-Dubz but are there any big name artists who we should look out for on the album?
[Laughs]… It was worth a try but stay tuned.
I recently interviewed 80’s pop star Sinitta, who revealed to me that she would like to date you. What are your thoughts?
Wait there you are joking? [Laughs] …. Sinitta is a lovely person I’ve met her a few times, but I really think your pulling my leg, but you know what lets go on a date, why not?
Okay, so I’ve got to ask you a bit about ‘Flying High’ the brand new single, how would you describe it compared to your previous singles?
It’s me right now. The response has been crazy, and I just hope everyone rides with it. It’s very different because I mean in terms of the release I didn’t do a 6 week radio tour it was just like Chipmunk’s back and the tune is played on radio and the video is released.
So, is ‘Flying High’ a metaphor describing how you’re feeling right now?
It is definitely a metaphor such because the lyrics says ‘You know we Flying High’. It’s mainly between me and my fans, and it’s not that I’ve let them down but even just taking so many shots from people, and my fans just seeing me taking the backseat, I just felt that I needed to give everyone a proud fan of Chipmunk something to enjoy.
What would you say the secret is to a being a successful artist?
Is one that is himself, I feel that people always take to the new guy that does well but once your buzz wears off you then have the task as a successful artist to prove yourself. My new guy buzz has worn off, I couldn’t be new forever, and that’s where I needed to make sure that I’m not about to drop the baton. I guess that’s the reason why ‘Flying high’ is at the level it’s at.
Right, so to round of the interview we would like to find out a bit more about the new Chipmunk. So, what we’ve done is we’ve put together a few questions that we would like to ask you to answer from our ‘Honesty Jar’. All you’ve got to do is dip your hand in the jar, and pick a question and answer it as honestly as you can.
1. What’s the most embarrassing experience you’ve had on stage?
I’ve never had an embarrassing experience, however, I did nearly fall over once so that’s the closest that it’s been.
2. If Sir Alan Sugar and Simon Cowell went head to head, who do you think would win?
It’s got to be Simon Cowell, the guy is way too powerful.
3. I recently read on your twitter that you sometimes make yourself laugh. Can you tell us your best joke?
I haven’t got a joke to tell but if you roll with me I’m pretty funny [laughs]…
Interview by Noel Phillips
‘Flying High’ by Chipmunk is now available on iTunes.
For more info check out www.iamchipmunk.com