Rooted… With Tiggs Da Author
16 Dec 2022
Producers: Hiba Hassan + Akeal Iqbal
Journalist: Harvey Marwood
Photographer + Creative Director: Oliver Buckle
Hailing originally from Tanzania but raised in South London, Tiggs Da Author is undoubtedly one of the most influential and well-respected musicians to have come out of the UK in recent years. Boasting a discography that breaks unlimited boundaries whilst also exploring soundscape undefinable by genre, more than one million monthly listeners on Spotify stay captivated by the talent; the singer, songwriter and producer remains a perfect reflection of how rewarding the process of perfecting artistry to the maximum can be.
Having built strong relationships with many UK rap heavyweights including Nines and Potter Payper, Tiggs Da Author is the vocal of a generation seeking audio documentation of life in modern day society today, laying down hooks on arguably two of the biggest tracks to come out of the UK this decade so far in ‘Gangsteritus’ and ‘NIC’. With his new project ‘MOREFIRE2’ having been released at the start of this month, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to link up with the man himself and find out how he has been ‘Rooted’ from the very beginning and the influences his culture, heritage and background have inspired. Choosing to catch up with the artist at his studio in London where he records and produces all of his music, our latest ‘Rooted’ editorial captures Tiggs in an environment close to home and the heart, and a place of significance that has guided the talent to much of his success to date.
To start off, could you tell me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and where do you come from?
So from the beginning – I was born in Tanzania and I stayed there throughout the early years of my childhood, and then I moved to South London when I was eight. That’s where I pretty much grew up. I got into football a little bit and then somehow ended up getting interested in music. Of course, you know, when you’re in school and everyone MCs, or everyone does something – I thought yeah, let me try it out – so that’s how I initially, started getting into music. My best friend was a DJ and a producer so he had a proper setup in his house and that’s where I spent most of my time. And before you know it, I’m into music and producing and stuff – so that was my entry point in music.
And what was your educational experience like?
My education – you know I was pretty smart in school. I studied politics in sixth form and started uni and was doing civil engineering.
And what sort of music were you listening to at this time when you were younger and have you drawn any influence from what you listened to back then?
When I was younger initially it was American music that first I remember from when I first moved to the UK in my teenage years. 50 cent and Kanye West during those early times. That’s how I kind of started loving music. You just listen to the sort of the music that everyone talks about and it’s tuned back to you – you want to listen to see what the hype is about. Eventually, I sort of moved away from that because you want to listen to people who you can relate to. That’s when I started listening to British rappers – Kano, Dizzee, Wiley – because you feel like this guy’s like me. He dresses the way that we dress. They talk the way we talk. He’s the same slang so that was what kind of influenced me to sort of want to start making music – it was British rap.
So, where does the inspiration for like all your creativity come from? Would you say you’ve drawn that from aspects of your childhood and growing up, even in school, for example just being on the playground where people are spitting bars – did that kind of inspire you to do your own thing and go down your own lane?
Yeah, just life in general, man, I just get inspired by everything around me. Whether it’s like, if we’re playing at school, when everyone’s cussing each other by and you’re taking in how people cussing each other, and just how to make things sound interesting. So I just like, got inspired by like, my friends, mainly.
And, obviously, your recent project, ‘MOREFIRE2’ dropped at the start of this month. Can you talk to me a little bit about the creative process for ‘MOREFIRE2’?
‘MOREFIRE2’ is just like putting a playlist together. I wanted to put different artists on songs together that people would not put together in their minds – but in my head thought would sound really cool. It’s all about expanding on small ideas and trying new things.
Where does the inspiration for your creativity come from?
Just life in general – I get inspired by everything around me. Back in school when everyone was cussing each other I was taking in the way people were doing to see how they made it interesting. But mainly, I get inspired my friends.
A lot of people brand you as the ‘King of Hooks’ – would you say this distinguishes you from other artists within the industry?
I’m just myself at the end of the day – I think that’s also what separates me, I don’t really have any boundaries when it comes to music. There’s a lot of pressure when making music as you feel like you have to be in a certain box, but I try not to think about that. That’s not why I make music – you just make it for the music and the rest takes care of itself.
You seem to be so well respected by other musicians – how did your relationships with people such as Nines and Potter Payper form?
Nines was one of the first rappers for me to create a connection with and that was all through Jamal. Rest in peace Jamal. I used to talk to him on Twitter a lot and he messaged me saying that he needed me to get in the studio with Nines. I remember the first time we we had a studio session, we came out with ‘Yay’ and dropped it – that’s classic for me now.
Your discography is so diverse and you’ve got music within your discography that doesn’t necessarily fit into a box of sort. How would you rank tracks such as ‘Oh My’, ‘NIC’ and ‘Gangsteritus’ amongst your whole portfolio?
Damn, those are some of my favourite tracks. I love those songs man. I was performing NIC just the other day and it went off. And then I was at home, and I started going on TikTok, you’d never think that these are the kind of people that listen to it. It’s so crazy. It tells you if music is good, it’s good. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. So those songs I rate very highly. As well, for people who don’t actually know, that is what I came from. That’s what I was listening to when, when, when I was in school, I was listening to people like Giggs, Nines and Blade Brown. So, when we made those songs my outlook partially comes from almost like a fan perspective. I’m think to myself, what would I want to hear from Blade or what would I want to hear from Nines? That’s why I feel like when I work with them, it just, it makes it easy to connect.
Has there been a standout moment where you have reflected and realised that you are as successful as you are?
You know, I haven’t really like taken proper time out – of course, every now and then, you sort of like, gas yourself, you know. I remember this from back to the first video I dropped, and I thought to myself, I’ve got more than 2000 views – I’m going in. At different stages, you get excited over different things. But in general, my come up, I’d say it hasn’t been an overnight thing. It’s been a slow building gradual process, so nothing has been a shock in that way. You know, I’ve been making music long enough that I can see why I am where I’m at.
And what do you want your fans to feel when they listen to your music? Do you think about that when you’re making it is the music solely for you?
I’m aware of what it does for other people, of course. I’m at a space where when I dropped music, I’m already satisfied with the music. Whether it does, well, or it doesn’t do well, for me to get to a point where I’m like, I need to put this out in the world, I’m already satisfied. But I’m also aware of what effect it can have on other people, and I would like to have the same effect that music had on me when I was growing up. Same way, when I would listen to Kano for example and hear some bars, they might just motivate me to think yeah, I just need to grind more.
I stumbled across your ‘Evilution’ project which dropped in 2013 on DSPs. Your sound has obviously evolved so much since then – but what has changed for you in those past nine years?
Man, it’s almost like it’s been a full circle in a way. That project you are talking about it, you can hear it was the beginning of me. That was the first project that I actually sang, so in that it is a perfect mixture of like singing and rapping. With the songs on there, even the beats I produced myself on there. I mean, that wasn’t by choice at the time, it was just hard to get with producers. I didn’t have the relationships. I just had to go with what I had at the time to grab some people’s attention. And it just happened. It happened to do that.
You cropped up on my personal radar in 2016 with ‘Run’ with Lady Leesha and that was actually due to FIFA. Did your placement on FIFA influence your growth at all?
Yeah – ‘Run’ was such a big song for me especially at the time. I wasn’t too sure how the music was going to be received because I switched up the sound from ‘Evilution’ to ‘Run’.. It’s a little bit different. Of course, the social element is still there, but it’s a completely different vibe. That was probably the first time when I would say, I didn’t know where it was gonna go, it was either gonna go left or right. When I dropped ‘Run’ I’d say it probably changed my life to be honest, because it got me up to this day.
You said that that song kind of changed your life. Would you say that your priorities are supposed to back in 2016 when that dropped to your priorities now have changed in life or are they very much similar?
I would say the only difference is that I have less pressure making music now. I don’t feel like I need my next song to be the one that needs to pay the rent. It was crazy pressure. It’s just more so now that I’m just gonna make the music that I like and and I trust myself to say okay, if I feel like this song and it’s good, the majority of people are going to agree with me. You have to just believe in yourself in that way.
Do you see yourself as having an end goal in the industry with a long term ambition from now? Because obviously, you’re already established as an artist, you’ve made it no, but what is the next step so to speak?
For me the next step, hopefully early next year, I really want to start a publishing company and start bringing through some sort of young producers, writers. Give them opportunities, make the opportunities that I mean, I was crying out for at the time, but I had to take a long route early, it took time to get there. But if I could give them the opportunity to get on, like, films, ads and stuff like that, it could change their lives as well.
You’re doing a headline show in London next March… What can people expect from that?
So the headline show, yes, it’s going to be at the Jazz Cafe in London. Man, whatever songs that people have liked for me, like in the past, they’re gonna hear it. I’m just gonna come with my band and I’m gonna bring out a few people with me. You know, I’m saying a few surprises here and there – it’s just gonna be good vibes, good vibes.
What do you do in your free time besides music?
In my free time I love listening to audiobooks, I love watching series’ and documentaries. That’s very me. I’m always on the lookout for new documentaries and I’m always trying to learn. I like to learn something.
What is your favourite TV series, or documentary?
My favourite TV series of reason I really liked man money highest. Of course, you have your obvious like Game of Thrones. But I don’t know if you know about vikings? I don’t imagine.Anything to do with like Vikings? I’m in? Yeah, that’s that’s that’s like my kind of stuff. Code.
How important is culture and heritage to you and do you actively try to represent that within your music?
Yeah, culture is a is a massive part of my music. Especially if you was to listen to my first album, ‘Blame It On The Yutes’, you’d definitely understand my culture for everything even on the cover of the actual album, they’re dressed in like Messai clothes. That’s a big Tanzanian culture like especially where I’m from, which is North Tanzania. So yeah, It’s massive – straight away if you see that, it gives you understanding of who I am.
What is your opinion on social media?
Social media is alright man – I think it just depends on you want to take in, but you make the decision. At the end of the day, it’s a case of if you want to be on social media all the time or not. I try and stay off it like a lot, because I feel like for my energy, and when I’m trying to be creative, I can’t be on Instagram all the time.
Check out Tiggs Da Author’s newest project ‘MOREFIRE2’ below :