“SHROPSHIRE folk singers” are given bigger budgets than black artists, a celebrated rapper has said as he bemoaned racism in the music industry.
32-year-old south London rapper Tinie Tempah said black artists have to navigate many “nuances”, including their commercial power being undervalued.
He told the PA news agency the internet had made becoming an artist more accessible but many still face discrimination.
And he said that “folk artists from Shropshire” were treated as more “viable” artists and given greater budgets for their music – even when they did not have the track record of success to back it up.
He said: “I would say the internet has made it easier for anyone to become an artist. I could be green and if my song is interesting and my videos are interesting enough then I could be an artist.
“But in terms of speaking about the industry, and what a black artist would have to navigate, there’s lots of nuances.
“Once you’re part of a record label or a system, there are lots of complexities within that framework – what your budgets are versus someone else.
“’You’re a rapper so this is your budget and you’re black, but this is a folk artist who’s from, like, Shropshire, and this is their budget and they haven’t sold as many records as you, but we think that they’re more viable, so we’re going to spend more’.
“So I wouldn’t say it’s become easier, I would say the internet has made it easier for anyone to be an artist. But then, once you have success, and once you’re navigating the industry, the world is still a racist place, and people are still racist.”
The rapper, known for hits including Pass Out and Frisky, said “not everyone that’s racist has died out”.
He added: “There are still lots of people that are racist. So it just depends on what happens beyond that point that you’re discovered or that everyone likes your music.
“If you’re with a good set of people, maybe you might have an easier ride than someone did 10 years ago, or maybe 20 years ago, or maybe 30 years ago. But is it equal yet? I would say no.”
The rapper said many of the issues he experienced in the music industry were related to the “working class, black element of it all”.
He added: “Just fairness, equality in music, equality across the deals, the certain level of deals that you get, equality in terms of the opportunities.
“You don’t need me to tell you but as a solo artist and a rapper it’s very different, but maybe when we’ve seen interviews from people in bands, Little Mix or One Direction, the person that’s black, or the person that’s mixed, will always tell you – I’m not quoting them, we’ve seen all of this on TV – they’ll always tell you, ‘Oh, I’ll go to a certain country and they put me at the back even though I’m the best singer’. So a lot of my issues are more linked to that.”
Tempah is presenting a new property programme on Channel 4 called Outrageous Extensions which will “follow some of the most audacious ‘dream home’ builds ever seen”.
Extraordinary Extensions airs on Wednesday October 20 on Channel 4.