Hate them or love them, N-Dubz look set to explode in 2007 and there’s nothing you can do about it. Their hit singles ‘Better Not Waste My Time’ and the huge ‘I Swear’ have made them regular features on Channel U, MTV and all major radio stations. For the most part people are responding enthusiastically to the extremely talented group from Camden but then there are always critics.
On first glimpse you may be fooled into thinking that this is just another teeny bopper Hip Hop / RnB band. However if you look closer and listen harder, you will find that the group consists of three diverse but equally talented artists.
You have Dappy (the one who goes ‘Na Na Nay’, you know what I’m talking about) a deadly lyricist with razor sharp delivery and a flow that some are comparing to Eminem. Dappy, an accomplished singer / song writer and producer, has a unique style that blends singing and spitting in a way that have become a trademark for the 19 year old, as his voice is instantly recognisable.
Next up is Tulisa, the only female in the group. She is a talented singer / songwriter but trust me she is not just a pretty face. She started writing her own songs from the tender age of age nine. Her sweet, melodic vocals lend a more commercial RnB touch to the tracks.
Finally we have Fazer: an equally talented songwriter and co-producer who remains the enigma of the group. His talents are clear to hear in the group’s production and hopefully their forthcoming, as yet untitled album will fully showcase this dark knight’s lyrical talents.
A sneak preview of their album boasted bigger baselines, bigger hooks, clever lyrics and high quality production, all nicely fused together with the N-DUBZ trademark style. Now, you and I (sorry just had to do that) what I meant to say is now you and I know N Dubz are destined to take over the UK and maybe even the world. They are marketable, they make quality tracks with a lyrical depth that some may find surprising for their age and most importantly they are talented. Britishhiphop.co.uk have been backing this group from time, so if you don’t know, maybe its time we introduced you to N-DUBZ.
BHH: So briefly, how did you all come together?
Tulisa: Well me and Dappy are cousins and we basically all grew up together. We all went to the same school erm; Dappy was best mates with Faze… Dappy: We all got kicked out for fighting and screaming! We were bunking school all the time just to go to the studio and put some ‘Na Na Nays down’; you get me [laughs].
BHH: Obviously you are aware that there is a huge buzz generating around N-DUBZ, how have you been dealing with the increasing attention?
Dappy: I don’t know man; I’m a bit gobsmacked [laughs] Fazer: The fan base is absolutely mad, like we are filling up little arenas now; it’s like miniature concerts. Dappy: All little kids singing our songs and if you go onto You Tube you see people reinacting our videos, that’s the kind of stuff that inspire me to carry on. Fazer: Yeah that’s the hunger, that’s the eager.
BHH: Do you find it a bit overwhelming?
Dappy: Put it this way, all three of us can’t walk on the street anymore.
BHH: For real, is it that bad?
Dappy: From Scotland down to London. Tulisa: I think it’s worse for them than it is for me. To be honest it doesn’t bother me at all, I don’t even notice it unless I go out clubbing but then I’m just in my own world. Dappy: But me and my man we just go out looking for the attention [laughs]. We were getting big and we didn’t even realise. Fazer: When we were number one with ‘You better not waste my time’ on Channel U we were jumping that was like amazing. Dappy: Until eventually we got like seven weeks number one with ‘you better not waste my time’ and eleven weeks number one with ‘I Swear’. Fazer: I didn’t know what to do man, I was just laughing and laughing. Dappy: It all started when we went out on the street and people were like ‘argh that’s them!’.
BHH: So Dappy, critics have been comparing you to Eminem with regard to your style and flow, how do you feel about the comparison?
Dappy: Listen Eminem is an amazing guy, I totally respect him but I ain’t Eminem and I don’t sound like him. I do my own thing [BHH: Dappy proceeds to go into a freestyle].
BHH: Your sound is very unique and very fresh, that’s why a lot of people are feeling your music but how would you define your sound?
Dappy/Tulisa/Fazer: N-DUBZ! [all laugh].
Tulisa: Its just N-DUBZ, it’s like a new UK sound. Dappy: To break it down its very authentic, oriental sounds are involved, it’s very orchestral, and it’s very Mediterranean and Latin.
BHH: So where are you parents from, is that the influence?
Dappy: Well my mum and dad are Greek. My dad was brought up in Africa and her (Tulisa) mum’s half Irish and half Greek and her dad’s Greek. Fazer: My mum’s from Jamaica and my dad’s from here, England. Tulisa: But it’s kind of backwards because my dad and Dappy’s dad were brought up in Africa.
BHH: That’s all good. So what can we expect from the new album?
Dappy: The new album? Hits from number one to sixteen. Tulisa: Your gonna have some club bangers and some love songs. Dappy: Yeah even Dappy is gonna be bussing a couple of Luther Vandross’.
BHH: Ok, so we have to talk about ‘I Swear’ because that was the song that pretty much broke you through. Was that based on real life experiences because everyone wants to know.
Dappy: Well I just had this wicked feeling about this chair thing and being tied to a chair, imagine your girl tying you to a chair and she’s all breathing on your neck… Fazer interrupts: Oi Oi Oi stop that! Dappy: [laughs] Nah but you know what time that is. So basically what the aim was is to get every boy and girl that loves each other to say baby- come we do what they’re doing, come tie me to a chair innit. Fazer: Nah there weren’t no cheating going on, it was just straight inspiration for the track, you have to be versatile with that kind of stuff. Tulisa: I wasn’t too happy with the situation [laughs]. I didn’t wonna be the one that does the cheating, so I tried to turn it around a bit and be like you did it to me first. [All break into I Swear]. Fazer: The production was Dappy and me as well. Dappy: No sound proofs, no top liners, we did all the sounds ourselves. We’ve been taught from babies.
BHH: Really? Who taught you?
Dappy: Tulisa’s Dad. Tulisa: Yeah my Dad’s a producer. My Dad and Dappy’s Dad played in the band Mungo Jerry [all break into Mungo Jerry’s In the Summertime when the weather is hot…] Tulisa: Yeah so we were brought up going to studios and gigs, so we used to sit there watching them perform. Dappy: Then when we went to school, we sweared at the teachers and went to the studio instead. Tulisa: And when they said to our parents they’re doing this and they’re doing that, our parents said what do you expect they take after us! Dappy: Until eventually now they come up to us and say your son is doing very well, my son is his biggest fan.
BHH: OK, so we need to talk about your adlibs: your Na Na Nays!
Dappy: [laughs] Oh the trademark! Fazer: Back in the day we had one track and it had a hook that went ‘na, na, na, nay nay’… and from there it just kind of developed into one ‘Na Na Nay’! It’s like the catch thing now. When Dappy comes on the stage and goes ‘Na Na Nay’ the whole crowd goes mad.
BHH: And your trademark Tulisa…
Tulisa: [laughs] It came from ‘You better not waste my time’, we said come we do a little opera thing. I was like come on I’m not an opera singer, I ain’t Charlotte Church and then we ended up using it on every track. I don’t know what I was doing in the first video I think I had too much champagne. I was doing some messed up things with my hands going ‘Ha Ha, Ha Ha’, waving my hands around like an idiot and its catched on and now I’ve got these girls coming up to me like ‘Ha Ha’!
BHH: So apart from Mungo Jerry, who are your musical influences?
Dappy: Sting! I don’t really listen to no R’n’B, Hip Hop or Funky House. Tulisa: Don’t lie! Dappy: In our spare time me and Fazer will put on Magic FM, other people might class that as a bit you know but we don’t response to that. We listen to George Michael, Phil Collins, Duran Duran, who else? Everyone, and that’s where you will hear the vocal arrangements and then you go back to your little music and you make something big- it’s very helpful, trust me you need to listen to different music.
BHH: You guys are all aged between 18 and 19; how have the older figures in the industry responded to you? Are they giving you the props you deserve, considering you all write, produce and perform and have set up your own label LRC (London’s Rebel Connection).
Dappy: Well you gotta have balls, without balls and your eyes wide open looking at the guy in front of you, they ain’t gonna take you seriously. Tulisa: I don’t think it was that much of a problem to get the elders to respect us and the ones that may have not, well forget them. Fazer: Because it’s like real music innit? Real musicians should recognise real music regardless of the age.
BHH: So N-Dubz have literally taken over Channel U, but with regard to the other music channels and radio stations, who would you say has supported N-Dubz from the beginning?
Dappy: Yeah Channel U should be called Channel Us [laughs]. Yeah but 1xtra, Radio One, Kiss 100, Galaxy have been good to us but big up to Jez Welham and Post Boy. Tulisa: But the first people to notice us were Channel U and then from that everything happened because it went from Channel U to all the underground stations and MTV Base, and then Kiss 100’s Jez Welham just took it and it’s almost like he took the record and shoved it down all the other dj’s throats because now they are all playing it.