Example: The Next U.K. Rapper To Take America?
Now that Britrap star Tinie Tempah is impacting at U.S. radio, could England’s Example be next?
While English rappers such as Mike Skinner (The Streets) and Dizzee Rascal have long enjoyed critical success in America, “Britrap” never made much of an impact on U.S. pop charts. Until 2011.
This year, Tinie Tempah’s smash “Written In The Stars” (which peaked at No. 12 on Billboard’s Hot 100 last month) has piqued interest in rap music from across the pond amongst progressive fans, and the next name to take America might be Example.
“Tinie is a really good mate of mine,” Example, born Elliot John Gleave, said via phone last week from his home. “We both have British accents and we talk about British stuff, but I think our voices are very accessible."
The rapper, whose just-released single “Changed The Way You Kissed Me” rocketed to the top spot on iTunes in England briefly over names such as Coldplay this past weekend, seems uniquely positioned to be the next breakout U.K. star in America… if a label Stateside chooses to step up and attempt to market him, that is.
“I can’t really name names, but there definitely is a lot of [American] label interest now because of the likes of Tinie Tempah,” said Dave Dollimore of Ministry of Sound, who signed Example.
Last year, Example did well both on pop charts and at clubs with a catchy Sub Focus-produced offering titled “Kickstarts,” which veered into pop territory and topped out at No. 3 on U.K. charts and has so far racked up more than 11 million views on You Tube.
“Whenever I’m writing songs, I’m always thinking ‘are 12,000 people going to want to sing this and put their hands in the air,’” he said of “Kickstarts,” which has become a bona-fide anthem for the 28-year-old, who is set to wow festivalgoers this summer at massive events such as Glastonbury with the track.
“As I got older, after going to live gigs, I’ve educated myself with dance music,” he said of his ongoing transformation from rapper to pop/dance artist who raps. “It feels more natural to me now to make dance music than hip-hop… but I still throw a rap in there because it’s my background.”
To that end, Example hopes to retain his older hip-hop fans, while currying favor with those who might be boosters of dubstep or even artists such as Calvin Harris or Swedish House Mafia. So far, it’s been working out for the popular singer/rapper, and not just in England.
“I’ve done really well in South Africa and Australia,” he said, noting that Asia was next on his radar for 2011 in terms of live shows (Example tours with a 4-piece band and a lighting rig ready for a rave).
So when will America see Example live?
“Next year if I get the right deal, I’m ready to tour [the U.S.] for months,” he said, adding that it’s too costly to consider a trek across America without support from a label. Still, Example notes he’s no stranger to the States. “I’ve been to 27 states,” he laughed. “It’s quite a lot for someone who’s never toured America.”
The singer hopes to circle the globe well into 2012. “My main goal right now is to become the biggest live act in the world,” he said matter-of-factly.
Americans will likely have to wait until next year to call Example’s bluff, which seems far away indeed for fans of one of the U.K.’s more interesting purveyors of dance music with rap and pop tangents.
Check out Example’s summer smash from 2010, “Kickstarts,” below for an intro to the artist.