In this extension of Tego Sigel's interview with Tinie Tempah in RWD issue 126 [Blazer Glory], we hear more from self-professed trainer addict Tinie along with his friend, cousin and manager Dumi Oburota at the launch of the Disturbing London x Nike Blazer collaboration launch in London.
At the launch of his Disturbing London x Blazer collaboration in London, Tego Sigel grabbed Disturbing London bosses Tinie Tempah and Dumi Oburota to talk buying trainers abroad, his all-time favourite pairs and of course spending £24k on his first edition Back To The Future Nike Air Mags...
What made you decide to customize a Nike Blazer for Disturbing London’s first trainer?
Tinie: The Nike Blazer is my favourite Nike trainer. It’s the trainer that I feel became quite iconic with my image as well, which was very cool. Specifically the Red Blazer, so we got the opportunity, myself and my manager Dumi, to go and design our very own Disturbing London and Nike Blazer and just jumped at it and I think it was just amazing because it was just modifying and putting a spin on something we already love so much.
How did you decide on the design?
Dumi: The trainer is iconic to T and especially the red one, that’s the most iconic pair that T wears. That’s the one that’s associated with T a lot and it’s like that chair you’re sitting on, it’s got that old English Chesterfield kind of vibe, that’s what inspired the tongue, because obviously T’s very much associated with that British quintessential and English heritage thing, so obviously with the embroidery and stuff I wanted to give a more fine, detailed stitching with a more saville row kind of vibe and obviously with the gum I just thought it was more classic. Everything really reflects what T kind of represents, I think, and it was not about making it too different but keeping it classic with a little Disturbing London twist.
Tinie: Yeah, a little English twist.
How did you come up with the distribution method?
Tinie: Oh, that was fun! Obviously a lot of things, even with the clothing line, everything has started out very small and very capsule-like, so it was great that we had the opportunity to keep this very exclusive, do you know what I mean? We only gave some out to some really important friends, people that we’ve worked with in the past and then, you know, like, we’re trainer fiends, we love trainers so much, the idea of being able to have a limited pair of something, even to us, I recently bought the Mag in L.A and Nana was with us as well, so we kind of know what it feels like, that excitement of being able to own something that’s very, very limited. So we felt like being able to do a treasure hunt and spread it across London which is the city that means a lot to us and giving people the opportunity to own something that’s very limited would be a lot cooler than just putting it in stores and then hopefully as time goes by it gets bigger and bigger and bigger and we do get the opportunity to have something in the shops and I could probably come and do a performance…
Dumi: To be honest with you, the whole treasure hunt thing, it represents what T’s about on the whole digital online presence and obviously how his fanbase relate to him and stuff, so that was a way to engage and get the whole digital traffic going. At the end of the day he’s very much…he’s present on the Twitter and so to just promote your trainer on Twitter I think that was just very innovative and it’s credit to Nike and T for what he does. The trainer and how he promotes himself in the place that he lives in, it was just about representing it on a lifestyle level, you know?
Tinie: Also, all the places that we spread them out were places that were relative to me, so like, obviously it’s done now but the O2 Arena, Terminal 5 in Heathrow, these are all places that have some sort of relevance to me. Whether it’s travelling a lot via there or doing a performance at the O2, so it was fun, it was cool, it got people involved, like Dumi said; it got Twitter popping, it was a topic of discussion and hopefully we’ve made some people very happy as well. I think when people win something; it’s a lot more important and a lot more cherished than just being able to buy it because everybody gets that opportunity. So, yeah, it was a good thing.
Have you thought about the next stage in the Disturbing London x Nike collaboration?
Tinie: We’ve got a big part of Nike here with us now so hopefully hearing talk about next stages and stuff [laughs]…
Dumi: To be honest I’m going to put him on blast; we should be doing another one! [laughs] Yeah! We should be doing another one. All the RWD people beg Nana to make another one [laughs].
Tinie: Yeah, let’s do a big petition! Let’s make it happen! But this experience was cool, this experience was amazing, there’s not a lot of musicians who get this opportunity, it’s mostly designers and sports stars and we’ve now joined a very elite list of amazing people who have had this opportunity, so, it’s Tinie Tempah but more importantly it represents London, the UK and our culture. So hopefully it would be a good thing if we get the opportunity to do something else, but at the same time we’re just so happy with it. It looks great, it’s everything we’ve ever wanted it to be, so, we’re happy.
What are your favourite pair of trainers?
Tinie: Do you know what? I like a good Air Max 1! I had this par of Nylon Air Max 1s, I love them so much because they were really easy to clean as well. I really liked them and they were just so understated and depending on what you’d wear them with they’d really, really pop. I loved this. I loved the Sky Force 88 and I’m still trying to get the florescent yellow colour. I would kill for some Jordan 6s as well. We love the Jordans. We like the Yeezys as well.
Dumi: We wear exactly the same.
Tinie: Do you have a specific pair though? What about the 6s that are the Lakers [colours]?
Dumi: Ahh, yeah, yeah. I’ve got some Lakers 6s. We kill; we have physical fights in trainer shops.
Tinie: Just in different countries embarrassing ourselves.
Dumi: Yeah, for real, it’s bad. He’s a size eight, I was a size eight. I’m an eight and a half now.
Tinie: He grew last week conveniently [laughs].
Dumi: So we don’t have any more beef! [laughs]
What was the motivation for spending as much money as you did on the first official pair of the Back To The Future Nike Air Mags last year?
Tinie: I was happy. I was really happy. I was overwhelmed. I really was just grateful for the opportunity that we got to go out to L.A and be there to witness it. For trainer heads that’s probably the ultimate shoe, so to be able to hear the story about it and obviously the Back To The Future relation which is so influential in our culture today, do you know what I mean? When I was born, that’s when those films were coming out and that’s what I grew-up on, so for me that was more about collecting my own first piece of modern art, because I ain’t ever going to wear those trainers. They got signed as well and they’re in some amazing air-tight box and everything so I just thought that for me, as a young 23 year-old Londoner, this should be my first piece of modern art and it’s a shoe and it really represents me as a person so I went for it. Also more importantly than that it was for a good cause. I think anybody spending that amount of money on trainers would be indulgent, but because it was for charity no one can get me! People can’t be like oh he spent…[laughs] I just say it was for charity.
Was there a point in the auction when you thought it had gone too far?
Tinie: No, no, no. Do you know what happened? My intention was to start really low, like I really just wanted to start really low but as you can imagine for it to get up to that price it took quite a while. So after it sort of went past what my budget was, I was sort of having a chat with Dizzee Rascal because there were other rappers there like Fabolous and a lot of American TV stars and I was speaking to Dizzee like ‘Maybe if one of us got it that would be amazing’ so we were sort of like ‘You do it’, no you do it, no you do it, alright I will do it! And then when I did the auction stopped like ‘Alright, we’re at this number, is anybody gonna go past it?’ and no one did, so lucky me.
What size are they?
Tinie: They’re my size!
Did you ever consider trying them on Dumi?
Dumi: No, no! He gave me a pair. T kindly gave me a pair. They’re not for wearing.
What other trainers have you spent big money on while on your travels?
Tinie: Yeah, like Nana was talking about, the Olympian edition. But we got a different one when we were in Japan. I don’t know the exchange rate, so when they were saying whatever currency they were talking about…
Dumi: They were reasonable. The ones that were bad were in New York.
Tinie: Flight Club, yeah, so as you can imagine all the places that we go to, we try and, depending on where you go you’re going to find something you can’t get anywhere else, so we’re always buying trainers wherever we go and I think like Flight Club definitely hits the pocket and Japan I don’t know because even thought it was reasonable we got loads of trainers!
Dumi: You got loads of trainers!
Tinie: I got the Converses. You know the Converses with the Super Mario edition. So yeah, I’ve spent a lot of money.
How do you rate London’s trainer game on a world stage?
Tinie: It’s up there! I think really the only people putting pressure on London in my opinion is really New York. I think in New York they like, obviously now that we have more awareness on the blogs you can really see there’s a real passion for trainers in the UK but in America some kids are working day-jobs to get a pair of exclusive trainers, so it’s a lot more embedded in their culture. But I definitely think that apart from New York London is definitely doing it, definitely.
Would you like to design something a little bit more experimental like Kanye West’s Yeezy 2s?
Tinie: I think the Yeezys are great, I love the Yeezy 2s, I think they’re incredible and I was fortunate to get both of the colours and I just like the fact that with most things like when you buy a watch it feels very much like a luxury item, like even the bag it comes in and the fact that you can screw components on and you have your tassel and stuff like that, it feels very much like a luxury item and definitely if I got the opportunity I would definitely like to mess around with a shoe a little bit more, but as for now and I think Dumi would agree, we just wanted to modify a trainer that was so important to us. I feel like, to be able to say that we’ve done this, as opposed to creating our own shoe, at this moment anyway, it’s definitely more of a triumph because a lot of people like the Blazer and it’s become a very, very popular shoe, but to be able to have our own interpretation of that is amazing. [turns to Dumi] What do you think?
Dumi: Nike again! [whole room laughs] I’m joking. Yeezy’s Yeezy. We can’t say anything. There’s only a few people, as Tinie said it’s a triumph, there’s only a few artists and even athletes who have designed their own shoes so for T and Disturbing London to have the opportunity to design a trainer is amazing. It’s a feat. So it can increase the brand. Increase the awareness and hopefully we’ll get the chance to design our own trainer.
Tinie: True, yeah, definitely.
Is there a digital enhancement you could bring to a pair of trainers?
Tinie: That would be amazing. I was really impressed by the FuelBand because obviously I’m a performer, so I found that it was a great way to start monitoring how hard I was working when I was on stage. To be honest with you, I think maybe just to have that in a shoe would be my own little modification and alteration purely for that reason, at the moment I can’t really think of anything else.
The Nike Blazer will forever be associated with Disc-Overy now, so what’s the trainer for the next album?
Tinie: To be quite honest I’d never really thought of that, we need to hire you on-board to help us with our campaign definitely.
Trainers and Tinie Tempah are two of our main areas of expertise…
Tinie: Exactly. But I really like the Sky Force 88 and I know it’s kind of limited colours but I’m probably going to be rocking those a lot over the next campaign so we’ll see. But the Blazer will always be our favourite shoe and I’m happy that, in a way anyway, that we have some sort of relevance to making it really, really popular amongst youth culture in the UK and I think sometimes when you’ve done something like that, it becomes a staple, it’s a staple bit of clothing and if it aint broke don’t fix it, but the Sky Force 88 I do love them as well.
Dumi: The Blazer is just a good trainer.
Tinie: They’ve got the low ones now.
Dumi: Yeah and to be honest with you the whole British culture of Reebok Classics, or the Reebok Workouts, the reason I think English people like Blazers is that we like more basic trainers, like clean-cut trainers and it just varies with the colour, or the texture, or the height and I think if you can wear it with jeans or you can wear it smart, I think that’s more within our culture than some of the bulkier, like the Lebrons, I don’t think they’ll ever pop-off in London. So that’s where I think it fits in our culture.
Read the original interview with Tinie Tempah - Blazer Glory in the latest issue of RWD right here.