GuilFest 2011 - Lineup

CHIPMUNK

Award winning rap superstar Chipmunk returns in 2011 with his highly-anticipated second album, 'Transition'.

The album demonstrates huge personal and lyrical growth from the Tottenham rapper, who has just turned 20. 'Transition' resolutely places Chipmunk in the higher echelon of MC's, not only in this country, but on an international level. Exuding confidence, a sharp sense of humour, and an astute analytical edge, 'Transition' sees Chipmunk return to his rap roots, with a record that is harder, darker and full of intricate lyrical complexities.

"I'm back now; I'm happy, I'm confident, it's sparring time," he says. "I've had a quiet 2010 recording this album, so in 2011 it's time to give everyone a run for their money."

A perfectly fitting title, 'Transition' sees Chipmunk transform from teenager to young adult, from unknown underground act, to acclaimed pop star. Tracks like 'Then And Now' and 'Get Me Home', produced by Harmony, who was behind much of his 'I Am Chipmunk…' debut album,explore Chipmunk's evolution from ambitious street MC to established star accomplishing more than most could have predicted. The double MOBO winner, who has over 160,000 followers on Twitter and has had in excess of 10million views on YouTube, has so far sold over 300,000 copies of his platinum debut album, 'I Am Chipmunk...' As well a No.2 album, Chip also scored two Top 10 hits with 'Diamond Rings' and 'Look For Me', while 'Oopsy Daisy' gave him his first No.1 single. Most impressive is that this was all achieved while the then 18 year-old was studying for his A-levels – which he also passed with flying colours.

While some of his earlier singles had an overt pop sensibility, Transition returns lyrically and sonically to his underground roots. With a volley of witty punchlines and succinct, taut hip hop production, the record repositions Chipmunk as a rapper with global appeal. Many of the records wouldn't sound out of place in the canon of a Jay-Z, Lil Wayne or Kanye West. The title track, produced by Dready (Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre) borders on emo-rap, with Dready's dramatic drums perfectly pitched as the sound-bed for Chip's internal musings. "I got a Rolex on my wrist but no time on my hands/ Made the transition from a boy to a man/ Step one: Never mix business with fam…" he says sagely. Elsewhere, on the Trey Songz assisted Take Off, Chipmunk contemplates the pressures of success: "I live life in the limelight/Truthfully, two years in, I'm still getting used to it," he admits.

Yet, the album also strikes a defiant pose, as a buoyant Chipmunk invokes heavy-hitting, humorous wordplay. "If Twitter had a twitter I bet it would follow me… And I was never blinded by the lights but I've always had stars in my eyes … Try test me on stage you'll be left burning/ I kill bills - Uma Thurman," he laughs on the boisterous 'Follow My Lead'.

"I'm about to hit gear 6 and bring back that fire, that passion, that drive, that competitive spirit that got me so noticed in the first place," he decides. "I had that on my first album, but not so much executed through my singles. That's the boundary I wanted to overcome now, the risk I wanted to take with this album. Whether the game is ready for it now or not, I'm ready to take that risk."

Born Jahmaal Noel Fyffe on 26 November 1990, Chipmunk went from a wannabe rapper living on St. Anne's estate, Tottenham, to one of the stars of the UK scene at just 16. "Growing up in the hood ain't a Blue Peter badge," he notes wryly on 'YaYo', but rather than following the path of some of his peers, Fyffe remained focused on other extracurricular activities - football and music. His first mixtape, 'Whatever The Weather', was made at 14 years-old, but it was his second, 'Whatever The Weather: Volume 2' that caught the eye of Grime Godfather Wiley. His third release, 2008's 'A League Of My Own' featuring production from Wiley, solidified Chipmunk as one of the underground scene's most skilled songwriters, with 'Who Are You', 'Mohammed Ali' and 'Fire Alie' quickly capturing the attention of kids all over the UK, as well as DJ heavyweights like Radio 1's Tim Westwood. Towards the end of 2008, Chipmunk's rising celebrity status was irrefutable. The then 17 year-old rounded the year out with over 1m plays on his MySpace page, over 2million hits on YouTube, a MOBO Award for Best Newcomer, an Urban Music Award for Best Newcomer and a nomination for Best UK Rapper at the American BET awards. He signed a deal with Sony in early 2009, and released 'I Am Chipmunk…' in October 2009.

After a frantic year of festivals, A'levels, hit singles, and countless awards, acclaim and accolades, Chipmunk has spent 2010 in London and LA recording the follow-up to 'I Am Chipmunk…' Mindful of keeping his name in the game, he received over 500,000 views of his 'A64'  on SBTV, featured alongside Example, Professor Green and Tinie Tempah on Tinchy Stryder's recent A-List group collaboration, 'Game Over', while three months ago he dropped another mixtape, 'For The Fun', which had 40,000 downloads in just one day. The online series, 'Chip TV' has recorded some of the high points of the last two years and he has also been filming a brand new documentary, due to be aired on terrestrial TV in 2011.

With a new-found resilience and exuding a strong sense of self-assurance, Chipmunk is now a fully-formed rapper with the talent, tenacity and ability to go against any major US rap star. His provocative punchlines pack serious weight, while the subject matter alternates as rapidly as his flows. Consistently savvy, Chip is the ultimate representation for his generation on many levels. Smart, assured, ambitious and willing to approach the music industry with a different perspective, he released the street single, 'Flying High' with no radio play, no fanfare, and no hype. Shooting the video in South Africa – "Imagine you're in college one day, and the next you're in Africa doing a video" – he dropped the track onto Youtube and iTunes, gaining 100,000 views in one day and hitting high on the iTunes chart.

His first official single, 'Champion', due for release in early 2011, features an international R&B superstar and is an emotive, epic re-entry into the music world. "I remember they told me I wouldn't be famous," he reflects on the first verse, "Now I dream in reality, simultaneous." Fellow UK rapper Wretch 32 appears on 'Armageddon', and there are potential collaborations with a rising British female singer and one of Jamaica's most acclaimed rappers.

As well as writing all of his lyrics, Chip was also heavily involved in creating much of the rest of the record too – from bridge to hook to melody. Some of his songwriting can now be found on other artist's records, although he's reluctant to say who. "You might see it on a Saturdays album, maybe on a Jodie Connor record, but the main thing is I'm trying to get my publishing up," he grins.

After the success of 'I Am Chipmunk…', 'Transition' reiterates his ability to display a maturity far beyond his years. Chipmunk's second album remains entrenched in his past rap roots while developing a more credible commercial sound that bypasses the overdone electro, post-grime pop, Swedish-based dance records of 2009. Sidestepping the obvious, the sound pushes Chipmunk forward into a new sonic dimension, while his wordplay, flow and cadence demonstrate a rapper who has attained a new level of awareness.

"It's not that I don't care about sales and award, but for me the main thing with 'Transition' was creating something fresh, that hasn't been done before, that doesn't sound like anything else in this country," Chipmunk concludes. "That's what it was about for me. I see every album as though I'm starting again; I don't take anything for granted, but I'm back in a good place creating the music that I want to make."


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