Meet the rapper committed to versatility, experimentation and keeping us on our toes.
Taken from the Autumn 2020 issue. Order your copy now.
“I want to get on a track with Harry Styles, or Sam Smith, Anne-Marie or even Adele,” reveals north London rapper Tion Wayne. “I like all these big people. I want one of these big pop stars because I know I’ll bring something to the table for them, and they’ll bring something to the table for me.” This list of dream collaborators — which also excitingly includes US rappers Megan Thee Stallion, Roddy Rich and 50 Cent — proves Wayne’s versatility and willingness to experiment as an artist. “As long as they’re someone that I’m a fan of, and that I listen to their music… I just need to branch out so people can see how wide my reach is,” he considers, setting out his mission statement. “I don’t want to be predictable.”
Having featured on three tracks that reached the official charts in the last 18 months (alongside NSG on “Options”, Russ Millions on “Keisha & Becky”, and KSI on “Houdini”), before brazenly DM’ing Stormzy to jump on his own top 10 single “I Dunno” — “I messaged him not think- ing he would reply, but when he listened to the track he was like ‘Yeah man, I don’t wanna be on the remix, I wanna be on the original’” — it’s unsurprising that everyone wants to collaborate with Tion Wayne too. And he’s confident in explaining why that is. “I bring quality and I deliver… I know how to elevate a song. I feel like a lot of people can be quite lazy with it, but I’ve got this thing where I know how to make a song,” he says. “There are people that can rap really good and there are hitmakers. I’ve got a balance of both but I’m more in the lane of a hitmaker. When there’s a good song, I know how to bring the icing on the cake. I know how to take it up a level. If you’re going for quality, my name’s a shout — I’m not gonna let it down!”
It makes sense, then, that Wayne — who is “always on the ball learning, watching how the industry is changing and adjusting” — is keen to keep all potential doors open and to not be placed into one specific box. “I’m trying to branch out to everything. If it’s a different sound I’m into it, whether it’s garage, Latin, pop. As long as the sound hits me, I’m always interested.” Instead of closing himself off from other genres that his fans wouldn’t necessarily expect him to dip into, he wants to keep us on our toes — and anyway, he’s not fussed if people don’t like his next move.
Wayne has been plotting that next move during lockdown, spending his time working out and making new music in his home studio. But he has been missing one thing: playing live. “It’s that connection, that atmosphere,” he says, explaining that he wants people to feel every type of emotion when they listen to his music. “It’s where you get rewarded for all your work. You can see the impact your music has on the crowd. That’s what I’m missing most — seeing my work come to life.” While countless artists around the world have turned to virtual shows to maintain a connection with their fans during the pandemic, Wayne, who hopes to be able to tour next April, is against the idea. “I’ve not tried it, but I’m not a fan of it,” he laughs. “I just feel like nothing should get taken away from that moment when you’re there with the crowd. I wanna save that special moment.”
Being at the top of his game, what does Wayne think of the UK scene right now? “It’s going up and up. There’s never been a better time for upcoming artists, especially in rap music,” he asserts. “Before we had to make it into the charts, but now, if you just tell your truth, then you’re in the top 10. It wasn’t like that before.” As for the rest of 2020, he’s confident he has it all figured out: “I’m going to carry on making bangers, drop a couple more hits and then, hopefully, have the album ready for next year…”