Tinie Tempah at Ultra Music Festival 2011 Day One, March 25
If you live in Miami, you might think you live in the most dance-music-saturated place on Earth -- unless, of course, you've spend a lot of time in the U.K. Dance music is part of the pop fabric here, with synth sounds regularly charting on pop radio. It's a phenomenon that's only truly taken over in the U.S. in the last year, but for our former colonizers across the pond, mixing hip-hop with dance music has long been par for the course.
While the U.K. has had its own healthy hip-hop scene for decades, though, basically none of its artists have broken big on our shores. Don't say Slick Rick, because he got his start in New York. Roots Manuvah seemed like a bet, but remained mostly a fringe favorite of underground heads. In 2011 though, with the musical landscape so drastically changed in the wake of David Guetta's crossover success, now may be a good time for an English guy who raps over dance music.
Enter Tinie Tempah, who's making the biggest attempt at that first score. Though his debut album hasn't even been released here yet, he managed a quick slot on the main stage at Ultra last night, sandwiched rather oddly between Duran Duran and the Australian drum'n'bass/rock act Pendulum.
He made the most of his 20 minutes, though, and benefited from a particularly receptive crowd. Who in Miami in a huge party crowd isn't going to respond to some loud hip-hop? Tinie went straight for the mega-hits here, mostly playing hype-man to his own recorded tracks, or rapping over current dance-pop hits. If being in a mob of thousands yelling along to "Like a G6" or Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" isn't your thing, this would have been a nightmare, but as a performer, this was a wise choice.
By the time he got through his take on a megamix of current dance hits, the crowd was pumped for his own current radio and club smash, Swedish House Mafia's "Miami 2 Ibiza." Tinie's the voice on the track talking about a girl who should wear "suspenders and PVC" (uh, that's British slang for sexy stuff), and once the crowd hit its mass moment of recognition, they were in the palm of his hands.
Of course, a street team was ready and waiting to press stickers with Facebook and Twitter links into everyone's hands as soon as the set finished. Let's see if Tinie blows up.
By the way, check out how these guys were parked in the middle of the crowd -- the right idea or really obnoxious?
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