So I chose to start this interview off with my favourite song by Tinyman – #THEVIBE. Usually I’ll tend to go on to write a little bit about how I found the artist and why I love their sound. I thought I’d do something a little different this time with this prelude. Instead I’m going to talk a little bit about why I respect Tinyman as an artist and a person. What I’ve noticed about Tinyman is that he’s very real in both his music and real life. It’s commonplace for him to speak on issues that are going on in the world and he doesn’t shy away from this. He recognises problems that plague society such as mental health. He recently said I quote “Let’s not ignore the signs. Mental health issues are an everyday battle for some people. To my people going through that daily battle…keep sharing, keep feeling, keep fighting”. I admire artists who aren’t afraid to speak up and don’t disengage with issues that effect the very people they are trying to reach through their music and even themselves.
What I also admire about Tinyman is how in touch he is with music. Despite being a UK hip-hop artist/creative he understands the various genres in the music industry and constantly recognises these niche markets on his social media. He continues to demonstrate both his vast musical knowledge but also that he is a well-rounded artist. This is something that definitely shines through his music, especially where he mixes those old soulful flows with the sound of UK hip-hop/grime right now. He creates music that fuses something together that can be enjoyed by both the lovers of old soul/hip-hop and the mandem…
First off, what’s the story behind your name Tinyman?
I’ve always been a short guy, but I was given the name Tiny from when I was in primary school. I used to jump around like a squirrel in my denim jacket styling, with my red premiership lettering on it ha. Everyone called me Tiny. Teachers, friends, fam – everyone. I’d do some irritating stuff to wind up girls that I was either friends with or crushing on. Some would complain to me and shout ‘Tiny, man!’. That’s not what inspired it initially, but I thought it was cool. Anyway, when secondary school hit, I used to climb a lot and do crazy flips. I thought I was Spiderman. So, I said F it. TINYMAN. Also, I was inspired by Method Man and Redman, especially after watching How high. I was so gassed. Big up all dem man with ‘man’ in their names.
Haha, that’s jokes. Seems like you were a G from a young age. Nice to see those hip-hop influences in there too. So, which musicians have specifically inspired/influenced your sound?
I won’t lie there are too many to mention, but I will summarise it like this…
The whole of the 90s hip hop era
My boys from the ends
Soul, Neo Soul and Jazz
Fela Kuti and African music
Vybz Kartel, the whole of dancehall and so much more…
I consider myself to be a musical sponge, so it’s hard to answer these kinds of questions. I don’t even think I identify with a sound anymore. I’d call it an energy or vibe.
I love the way you summed that up, we defo have very similar music tastes. I also really like how you differentiated between “the whole of the 90s hip hop era” and “soul, neo soul and jazz”. It’s very easy just to lump the two into one category. Often we forget that we had the likes of Prince and Sade, some of the pioneers of neo soul that achieved massive success in the 80s. It’s definitely important not to forget how much the years preceding the 90s helped to shape what we treasure it to be today.
What I admire about you is how you maintain your authenticity and your sound despite an ever-changing face of music. The 90s influence remains evident in your instrumentals but you keep it modern with your comical and up-to-date bars. We see this especially in Orphan Flow Vol.5. So, what was the inspiration behind that track?
Thanks so much man, I’m happy you can connect to the vibes yo!
I was inspired by summer and lyrics. In fact, the whole Orphan Flow series is about the lyrics. Orphan Flow Vol.5 was about capturing and projecting the energy that all my influencers and inspirations transferred to me, into one song. Catchy with substance. Complex but easy on the ear. When you hear OFV5 you see and feel different patterns and colours. The orphan flow is about being in a pocket that even you can’t describe fully in hindsight.
Your track #TheVibe really is a vibe lol. You bring out some of the biggest flows. When did you sit back and think…yeah I’m gonna do this music ting. When did it hit you, that you wanted to pursue a career in music?
I can’t imagine it to be anything less than a vibe, otherwise I would have called it ‘nearly the vibe’. Big man ting. From when I was younger I knew I wanted this. But the moment I actually decided to be active with no distractions was in 2013. That was the time I said ‘yeah, I’m gonna do this proper’. In life sh*t happens, you find yourself in the present day trying to avoid saying sh*t and actually doing more.
I really like how you take the Orphan flow to new heights every time you drop a new one! You spoke of the Orphan gang as a “social expressive moment”. “A metaphorical place” where creatives can essentially bring about change. Can you speak a little bit more about what you hope your music will bring to the culture?
Ay pressure. This is why OFV6 has to be crazy! Every time I think I have it, I listen to the old ones and I think ‘f*ck, how am I gonna do this’. To answer your question, man I just want my music to bring new energy and new insight to people. We tend to hope for the best when we release music and disregard how sick we actually are. I don’t mind going or looking crazy trying to push my sound, energy, art and vibe out or whatever. The word culture should be replaced with people. If we contribute to or tailor our stuff to a certain kind of culture, then we miss out on other people who also have ears and a mind. Culture or no culture. I want to bring vibes to the people dem and gang all over the world. Energy don’t lie.
Word. Can you give us any clues as to what to expect from the next Orphan Flow?
Do I even know. Lol, I was supposed to stop at three now we are at five. I wrote the concluding orphan flow years ago, but now it’s about filling in the chapters. Just know it’s gonna be done this year though.
Can you shed some light on the riot in Dalston and some of the problems people of colour who also listen to your music are unfortunately facing right now? What is your opinion on the recent police killings?
Okay. My opinion is very simple. A black boy similar to guys that I have grown up with all my life and my little cousins younger brother, was killed due to the carelessness, malice and the power trip of a police officer nothing more. As the years go by we see humanity, care and compassion fizzle away. Especially for POC. We must serve and protect ourselves in all ways, not just physically. The f*ckery is happening everywhere, every day and it’s going undetected. We’ve been treated like animals from early and it’s still acceptable. I don’t know what it will take but I know that something mad is going to happen.
Following on from that, from your experiences what advice would you give to young musicians who are trying to breakout into the industry?
Stay true to yourself. Experiment. Trust your sauce. Let it be natural, don’t force anything. Be patient. Be fearless. Be militant with it, but humble at the same time. Use the platforms and opportunities out there and say no when necessary. Love what you do. Show respect to people and work smart. Avoid doing stuff to fit in or to feel a part of something. Don’t get sucked in to the industry cliques. Create genuine connections and collaborate with fellow creatives. Finally, invest in yourself.
I love that especially where you said, “Avoid doing stuff to fit in”. That’s a statement that’s very important to me especially. Because if the passion is not there and you’re doing it to look cool, you won’t remain consistent. It’s great to see artists collab with other artists across the world. Those infusions of sounds and cultures are epic! So, I’ve gotta ask you if there’s any artists you would like to collab with outside of the UK?
Again like the question about my influences, that’s hard to answer. I wanna work with everyone I vibe with and everyone that is dope. My whole thing is about fusing sounds, energies and influences. I’d love to do a song with Spice. I love her. She is strong and bossy with it in all ways. Even though she is a dancehall artist, I still want to hear her on some hip-hop-ish. Even if she did a skit for me I’d be too happy fam. Spice means a lot to me man.
Haha, well let’s hope she sees this and hopefully that’s something that could happen in the future. Finally, where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years?
Somewhere chilling, travelling, making moves, alive, happy. Alla dat and more…
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