Wrap Up And Watch Out: Thir13Een
Thir13een, a singer, rapper and producer from London, has been honing his craft over the last 10 years, but this triple-threat is now ready to take it up a notch or two after recently signing with Lisa Maffia’s record label, Maffia Records. The Wrap Up's James Walsh caught up with Thir13een to talk about his musical influences, 'The Heartbreak Kid' mixtape, working with Wretch 32 and more...
The Wrap Up: Thir13een, how are you today? For those who don't know, just tell us a bit about yourself...
Thir13een: Hi there! I'm Thir13een and I'm a hip-hop and R&B artist who makes good music for the masses. I rap, sing and produce a collective of styles and I also write songs for other artists.
TWU: Great stuff. Who would you say were your earliest musical influences?
Thir13een: I was brought up on the likes of SWV and Changing Faces, very much the mid-90s R&B. I loved Teddy Riley, Guy and definitely Michael Jackson – he was a huge influence. Art is also a great influence; I'm not just influenced by music. You can see sounds in art and sound waves bounce off everything, so I get a vibe from everything and I think you can see that in my music.
TWU: Do you see yourself as a rapper, singer or producer?
Thir13een: I started rapping when I was about 14 and started singing when I was 17 – when the tracks I were making started to lighten up. I made my first beat at 13 and I'm 22 now, so that's nearly 10 years of practicing my craft and, while it's hard to say what I prefer, it's a great gift to be able to give a track what it needs myself, whether that’s a rap or vocals – I can deliver both.
TWU: You worked with Wretch 32 and Sway on your track, 'Just Like'. How did that come about?
Thir13een: They're from the same ends as me. We all know the same people and roll in the same circles, so it was just a matter of calling out. It was easy to work with each other. Wretch came into the studio, I played him the track, vibed with him, and he felt the hook and did his thing. Sometimes when people work together you can hear that it's forced, but is was just natural with Wretch and Sway and you can hear that in the track.
TWU: Your mixtape, 'The Heartbreak Kid', dropped towards the end of last year, right? What was it like to receive such a good reception for it?
Thir13een: It was great! 'My Heart Keeps Crying' reached No. 12 in the urban charts and made it into rotation. I had some great artists jump on the tracks, too: Skepta, Chipmunk, G FrSH and Asher D. I’ve got mad love for them and everyone else who featured. The anticipation of what they would do with the tracks, waiting to get their verses back after they'd done their thing, was real exciting. I can't thank everyone enough for supporting it. Big up Ronnie Herel from 1Xtra, DJ Target, Mixtape Madness, Ace & Vis, Grime Daily and all of the bloggers, I've got mad love for them because I'm up-and-coming and they don't have to show support.
TWU: What would you classify as your best work and what's your career highlight so far?
Thir13een: I'm also part of a collective called YoungStarz and we put out a track called ‘Ayo’, which made it to No. 7 on the urban chart. Everyone who hears it on Channel AKA or radio keeps on telling us that we need to come with more tracks like that, slightly edgier than my R&B roots but still mainstream. You're only as good as your last track and everything you put out has to be your best to date. Musically, my highlight has been when 'My Heart Keeps Crying' dropped and that was when I started to really feel part of the scene – the support it got and the fans I've gained from it has definitely helped me push on to higher places.
TWU: What's next in store for Thir13een?
Thir13een: The second single, 'Movies', will be coming real soon and there's my new mixtape with YoungStarz, 'Money, Girls, Music', which will be available as a free download. There'll also be a third single coming featuring a hot up-and-coming artist, but I can't say too much about that right now, but just know that it will be mega hot, piping hot! (Laughs) UK music is in the best state that it has ever been, there's so much great UK music out at the minute and it's all about keeping up and keeping my levels higher!
Stay up to date with Thir13een on Twitter - www.twitter.com/Thir13een