An opening slot at last summer’s Wireless Festival was an important moment for Tinie Tempah.
The grime artist was still relatively unknown but his underground fan base had turned out in force to see him open up the day’s music on the second stage.
But unbeknown to him a legion of record label scouts were there too and within hours his world was about to change forever.
Talking to Fresh after a gig in Sheffield, he said: “Everybody was like, ‘who’s this kid?’ but as soon as I got off stage and the second act came on the crowd cleared out.
“After that my phone didn’t stop ringing.”
A bidding war for Tinie’s signature ensued and he was eventually snapped up by mega-label Parlaphone, home to Lily Allen and Coldplay.
Less than a year on, the Londoner has joined the ranks of N-Dubz, Tinchy Stryder and Chipmunk as one of urban music’s hottest names.
“It’s like a dream come true,” he said.
“There were a few others in for me but Parlaphone is one of my favourite labels, I have always admired their acts.”
Tinie’s love of music began when aged 12 he watched the 30-strong So Solid Crew shooting their new video near his home of Plumstead.
He camped out to be first in line to collect autographs and marvel at their state-of-the-art mobile phones and limited edition Moshino jeans.
“I wanted to be in So Solid so badly,” he remembered. “That day, watching them make the video, I realised that this is where it was at for me. I didn’t want to do anything else.”
From there on his love for underground music grew and he discovered MCs like Dizzee Rascal and Wiley on pirate radio stations.
After being introduced to key figures like N.A.S.T.Y. Crew’s Sharkey Major, Tinie was asked to join grime crew Nu Brand Flexx, before becoming a part of Terror Danjah's influential Aftershock collective.
He decided to go solo in 2005 and saving up £800, he made the video Wifey Riddim which became the hottest song and video on the underground, sitting at No1 on the Channel U charts for 10 weeks.
“I did it as part of a college project, it took me ages to save that up,” he laughed. “It was the most money I’d ever had in my life, and I put it all into the video.”
Now with grime music dominating the charts Tinie’s new tune Pass Out has made it onto the Radio 1 play list and he’s hoping for a big 2010.
“I’m very happy that grime is going mainstream. Every type of music comes from somewhere.
“I’ve been doing this DIY thing forever so I’m hopeful that the fan base I built up in 2009 will grow this year.”
The 21-year-old didn’t do his profile any harm when he stepped into Kanye West’s shoes.
The Londoner was asked to perform live on Radio 1 when the American rapper was unavailable for his cameo on Mr Hudson’s ‘Anyone But Him’ track.
Tinie’s album, Book of Discovery, is still being recorded but he described it as an “eclectic mix” of music.
He said: “As I made the album I realised there’s a lot more to music than being whisked about in cabs and having the latest phone.
“It’s a lot of hard work that goes into it. My goal, my aim is to be a superstar, but not in a cheesy way.
“I want to go to America and do what they do. But better! I have so much ambition. I feel like even if I got a No1, I still wouldn’t be satisfied.”
Tinie Tempah is playing Leeds O2 Academy with Chipmunk on February 13 (sold out) and Manchester’s Pure Nightclub on February 16 and Academy 17th.