[INTERVIEW] TINY BOOST IS LEVELLING UP
Tiny Boost is as real as they come. Where the culture is concerned, there’s nothing the rap scene needs more than a torch-bearer from the school of hard-knocks. In a day and age where rap has been accused of lacking authenticity, Tiny Boost represents the old school, but in a refreshingly gritty way.
In time for the release of his highly-anticipated album, I caught up with Peckham’s very own to talk real rap, his long-awaited return to music and all things South East.
Tiny Boost is back to take what is rightfully his.
Who is Tiny Boost?
What’s your earliest memory of music?
It was growing up in the household. My bro is an engineer, so mans always dropping records so I’ve always been around it really. I’m talking old school, like The Box. Black Entertainment. MTV Base. That was me.
What would you say are the fundamental differences between what rap is today to what it was in our generation?
It was never about trying to be famous, you feel me? It was more about the talent and what you’re trying to do with. Nowadays, everyone’s looking to be an overnight success story. There ain’t nothing wrong with that, but you gotta realise you can’t hate on someone trying to get rich. I fuck with the man that are trying to do that, but when you like at it from an artistic perspective, it’s the art that’s missing. As I said, I cannot fault the hustle or those trying to change their lives, but it’s like a club that just lets anyone in.
Since you’ve been away, you’ve probably noticed how many rappers are earning a serious living off today’s rap game. When you look at what the likes of the big bro Giggs have achieved, do you see the same for yourself?
Of course, it’s the little things that happen that allow you to see that it’s possible. Everyone gets their bread differently; some man are enjoying their 10 bags right now, but will they still have those funds in 10 years’ time? Certain man are working off those smaller bags now, in hope to multiple that ten-fold in 10 years, that’s the real difference. It’s dem man there who find themselves in a more solid position. For me, it’s about analysing the best path to that level of security for years to come, you feel me?
There’s no crime in getting quick baggage if you know what to do with quick money. If it stays flowing, you haven’t really lost out… it’s about what you do with the bread that matters.
How do you feel the likes of Giggs and other true pioneers of the sport have found a way to get paid off this rap game in an era where others could be accused of selling their soul, and what music means to them, to the highest bidder?
Everyone’s situation is different. Hollow was something different and came at a time where there was nothing like him. He was always going to get money, you feel me? The reason people like us have managed to get that money is because we were really in these streets. Certain man were in the game, but they weren’t rolling as deep as us, they were playing in the shallow end.
When we were coming up and seeing the air at the top, we’d come from a place so far down, what we brought with us was really all we knew. Others can’t say they’ve swum that far out in the water, they even forget they were in the water. We can never forget that shit.
A lot of these rappers these days are 20, 21, left school at 16, so how long have you really been in these streets, you feel me? For certain man, it’s not hard to fake that shit if you truly didn’t come from that struggle. For those of us who experienced it, you’ll never be an actor. Even so, there are certain man who have been in the deep end but are still acting. Just keep it real.
What was your most memorable experience(s) from the time you and Hollow’s created Who said Dat?
That time was probably the most memorable for me period, so much came about on the same day. Another moment would have been getting beats for Hollow. I’m one of the only people out there fortunate enough to make a mixtape with Hollow, and he did that with me because he believed that I was good enough to make it. When you look at the times, where he was making mixtapes with Dubz, Blade and when I look bad I think to myself, ‘Bro really thought I was on that level of these man’.
It’s mad to think that even at a time where no man was really making money off the rap game, he believed there was a path that would be defined by you and your talents.
Yeah, but even then I didn’t come to that realisation at the time. I guess I didn’t get the message.
How did the creative for the front cover of Street Dreams come about and what can we expect from the Album?
My thinking was to create a mind map.
Mans just on a next frequency to these brothers. It’s all gonna make sense in years to come. I wanted to show the pro in me, I’m always in the mind of someone from the streets and what you see in a depiction of street dreams.
I see this album as potentially becoming what Meek’s Dreamchasers was to Philly.
I hope so. The project is a lot smoother. Strictly for the Streets was grittier, and whilst this project packs the same heat and it’s groovy it’s a bit different. The mind map concept is truly what the mind of a street nigga.
You’d think in the time you’ve been away everything would have been done and outplayed by now. But the artwork is something different.
I respect that bro.
Why do you choose to return to music?
I can see the scene bubbling. US and UK, I’ve been watching and I understand my position and where I come in all of this. I know what’s popping and I know what people need to hear. People need to hear that real rap in all of this, whether they know it or not. They need the voice.
These youngers out here will grow and when they do, and the start peeping what it’s all about, it becomes a reality. You’re going to want some real shit… Us man had that but the younger generations don’t have that now.
You’ve been away for some time and you’ve done your time. How has the time away affected you as both a man and an artist?
It’s now I find I’m trying to become a man; it’s not about like you are one, you feel me? Those materials we’re out here striving for is not what makes you a man. Money and all that is grown man shit, but it doesn’t make you a man. No kid should be out here worrying about how to get money or go to war, that’s for adults.
Having responsibilities, looking after your people, raising children — that’s really for people with a grown mindset. There’s no point bringing kids into the world you can’t look after. The experience has taught me about what I should be getting from life and how to be great. The road life is any man’s game; the streets are always hiring.
But that don’t make you a man, especially in this day and age. Anyone can do road and dark up the place and becoming the next ghetto superstar within a week. That’s easy. When you’re trying to pattern mumzy so she doesn’t have to work any more, or look after your brothers in jail so when they come out they don’t have to starve. I have my niggas in jail doing mad time, who when they come out they find them in right position — that to me is real shit.
The streets is an easy option. It’s 24/7 and will never turn you down. What’s harder to staying away from that and becoming someone else, especially when you’ve been through it. One of the many things I’ve learned is that the world is bigger than the hood, bigger than south London, bigger than the city. There’s so much opportunity. Even when I’m out of the ends, I can feel it. Even the air is different. And I enjoy that feeling.
South London, especially places like Peckham has changed so much. How has that affected you?
The heart and soul of Peckham has left. As someone from here, I’d love to just go to the block and post up like the old days. But I see the other and that makes the feeling of ‘home’ bittersweet. Like, do I really want to be doing that, or do we need to make it even more for the youth out there, you feel me?
But yeah… There ain’t no place like home.
What’s next for Tiny Boost?
We go the tape drops this week (pre-order Street Dreams below) and next year I’ll be going on tour. I’ll also be joining the bro on the UK side of his tour.
Next year will be big too with the Street Dreams show we’re looking to put on with Hollow. That’s the plan; alongside everyone from all over the country. We’re gonna show people what’s really good out here, so look out for that.
Pre-order Street Dreams here.
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