At only 17, North London based Chipmunk already has an impressive three mixtapes under his belt. His latest mixtape A League Of My Own sold bucket loads and has left fans eagerly anticpating his debut album. With music industry heads proclaiming him as the next big thing – there hasn't been a buzz this big since Dizzee Rascal's name first began surfacing.
Despite the allure of fame and the attention from girls, Chipmunk real name Jahmaal Noel Fyffe achieved glowing exam results.
Currently appearing on the NikeiD Oneway album, Michelle Adabra caught up with the talented MC to talk trainers, fame and more importantly that skank. Read on.
BHH: Tell me about the trainers you've designed with NikeiD.
Chipmunk: They are patent, but I like to call it ‘shine shine’. They are baby blue, white and grey – they're very stylish as you can see (for the benefit of readers; the said trainers are blue, white and charcoal in fact and yes, they are very stylish).
BHH: Maybe you missed your calling; you could have been a designer…
Chipmunk: I could've actually.
BHH: Why did you agree to be a part of NikeiD's Oneaway project?
Chipmunk: I feel like Grime as a culture and a genre of music is one-away. As an artist everything you do has to be unique, it's important how you carry yourself and how you speak to people. One of the things I take a lot of pride in is my trainers; I take a lot of pride in them, so it was the perfect link.
BHH: Don't you think it's funny how some 'street' slang is slipping into mainstream use, for example one-away?
Chipmunk: (laughs). Yeah it's happening man, but do you know what it is, it's the adaptation of cultures (BHH: this guy is deep). The opinion of young people is more valid now, so in order to understand inner city or urban culture you have to understand the young people.
BHH: Following the success of Wiley's Rolex; do you think artists such as yourself in the Grime arena have a better chance of penetrating the mainstream?
Chipmunk: Yeah I think it will be, but you have to be careful when you're crossing over that you don't loose your original fan base. Some people don't mind but that is one thing that I don't wonna do. I like the thought of fans growing with me from when I had the rubbish CD back when I was 14 – a fan would have that and my album as well. You just have to get the balance right, shout out to Wiley on that track; it's a massive track, it's not Grime obviously but you have to pay the bills man, that's how it works.
BHH: Let's talk about Who Are You, which is a huge track with a big video but more importantly we need to discuss your skanks in the video… very inspiring – especially the 'I am in a league of my own' bit…
Chipmunk: (laughs… for long). You know what, I'm like a funky person, seriously. What can I say, it just came out. I've got skanks, I'm like the king skanker still, at a dance you'll see me in the middle.
BHH: When I go out and Who Are You comes on – I do the skank too…
Chipmunk: …Yeah! That's big; that's right, you have to say your in a league of your own, everyone should do the dance. When I do shows, I don't say that lyric anymore, everyone just does the dance. I like that, but watch out for my new video: Muhammed Ali, there's gonna be some moves in there still.
BHH: So you're at college – what are you studying?
Chipmunk: I'm studying sociology, drama and accounting.
BHH: That's serious. How are you balancing the music with your college work – is it hard?
Chipmunk: There's a lot of times when you don't eat and you don't sleep, but it's all about timing. I know I have studio at this time and school work at this time, I know I have to dedicate time to revision as well.
BHH: How does your mum feel about it?
Chipmunk: She's cool still, they weren't sure if the music thing was stable in the beginning but now they are seeing that I can balance. They know I'm not dumb – I'm the first person in the family to get good grades still.
BHH: As your popularity grows, how are people responding to you. Are you still Jahmaal at college?
Chipmunk: Yeah, I'm still Jahmaal. Some people call me Chip or Chipmunk; it's whatever feels natural. I don't get no super star treatment in college 'cause everyone knew me from before innit; I wouldn't expect that kind of treatment anyway. I'm just happy to see that all of the hard work has paid off, I have literally slugged my guts off since the age of 14, ask anyone. When all of the artists that are out now were doing their thing, I was the kid with the ruck-sack who would just run in and take the mic. I've tried to stay level headed and keep concentrated on the music.