The upcoming rapper, who was born and raised in Wolverhampton, grew up watching his parents perform – his mother was a backing vocalist for UB40 and his father a keyboard player for the rock band Thin Lizzy. We caught up with the West Midlands’ own rising star after his appearance at The Big Fest concert alongside Tinie Tempah and Wiley at the Wolverhampton Civic hall, to talk about his swagga, and making waves on the hip-hop scene with his brand new single Swaggnificent.
When did you first realize you wanted to take up rapping as a career?
I remember writing my first rap at the age of eight years old, but it was about five years ago that I really started taking it seriously.
In terms of rapping and writing your own lyrics, where would you say you draw most of your inspiration from?
Just living life itself in general – sometimes it’s through friends or things that are going on around me that makes me feel I have to start writing.
What do you think of the current UK rap scene?
At the moment I think it’s definitely at its peak, especially as there are a lot more urban artists achieving huge commercial success. The Americans are also taking more notice of our talents and more and more artists in general are being accepted. Right now I am proud to be a part of the movement.
Tell us a bit about working with Mr Hudson. What’s he like to work with as an artist, and how he has influenced you? He is definitely one of the big success stories from the Midlands.
As soon as we met we had a connection – he even invited me to perform alongside him at a few of his shows and gave me a lot of advice. And especially coming from the Midlands and seeing Mr Hudson working with Kanye West and Jay-Z, I see it as a positive energy.
Lets talk about your brand new single Swaggnificent. It’s being described as a summer anthem, and it’s also received a lot of support from Radio 1’s Tim Westwood and Zane Lowe – but tell us a bit more about it?
The single itself is a metaphor for a journey that I’ve been on. It explains the doors that have been opened and closed on me. It’s also a message to keep doing what you’re doing with your swagga, and my motto is ‘if the door gets closed just kick it open’.
We’re also loving the record but I have got to ask what does ‘swaggnificent’ mean?
Well, basically it’s mixing the words swagga and magnificent as one, and if you believe in your swagga then you’re swaggnificent.
Are you pleased with the response so far?
Yeah it’s been crazy. The internet has obtained a lot of fans for me, and instead of going out touring it’s given me a visual of who my fans are. So far the feedback has been supportive.
What can we expect from Tenny Ten in the near future? Are you currently working on any other projects?
The future is looking bright. My forthcoming album will be out on 10/10/10. I am also working with a lot of big-name American producers including Tommy Guns, the guy behind This is Why I’m Hot, UK funky house producers Crazy Cousins and loads more collaborations are in the pipeline.
Interview by Noel Phillips