On a relatively sunny day in London, I caught up with one of West London’s most talented rappers. Having worked with the likes of Scorcher, Stormzy, and C Biz to name a few. I sat down TE dness for an in depth conversation on all things past, present and future.
First things first how did the name TE dness come about?
When I was a bit younger I started out doing grime, I was MC Temper or just Temper. When I got just a little bit older 17, 18 and I kind of like returned to music – I had a little break for about one or two years when grime was becoming more about sets. So when I returned I just shortened the Temper to TE, but it was hard to find online as just TE so I added the dness which is a play on my surname Dennis. Before that it was TE DC, the DC being for Dutch Club but the dness got added just to make it more searchable.
What was it like growing up in west London because I feel like everyone stereotypes it as the nicer side of London?
Our part of West wasn’t too nice, I think when people think of West London they think of like mainstream West London but they forget the outskirts and what’s really happening. I grew up in Hayes, so Hayes was. . .you ask anyone about Hayes fam, they’ll tell you it’s not nice West London you know what I mean. Not like “ah it’s the worst place in the world” but bro it just wasn’t that nice at all. It was alright though, it helped me to grow into the person I am now I guess.
I know you also spent a little time in Jamaica how was that for you?
So when I was about 14 maybe 15, I actually got sent to Jamaica. I got sent there for two years, my mum told me we was going on holiday and then when we went out there she just cut and left me. But it was for a good reason, ‘cause I was just involved in a lot of stupidness at that age. 14, 15 wrong crowd, my pops ain’t about, mums working all the time, just like the people that were older than me were bad influences. So she kind of just foresaw something coming, and luckily for me during that time there was a big operation in my town – like drug operation. Certain things I was involved in I know I would have got myself caught up in it, so it’s kind of like she saved my life. So it was a good time for me I loved it out there.
Jamaica has a big music culture; so how did your time out there affect your music?
I was born in Jamaica, so naturally my Jamaican heritage and culture comes out in my music anyways. It might be from the slang in the music or a couple words or you know what I mean. It influences my music a lot I’d say.
I know you’ve recently had a daughter, congratulations. How has fatherhood affected the music and mentality?
My mentality first and foremost, I overthink things now I don’t rush into anything. I don’t rush into financial situations, I don’t rush into going out, leaving my house, rushing to raves or anything. Like I literally think about the consequences of all of my actions, whether it be small or big. I mean even small actions like for example I just had a burger I haven’t been eating meat for a while, so now I’m just like well what’s the consequence of that. Coming into fatherhood I think of that in all parts of my life now, I overthink things. In terms of my music. . . I don’t think it’s influenced me that much. Yeah I’ve made a couple songs dedicated to her – but I’m still just on the same thing really. It’s much more of mentality thing, I know what I need to get from my music and where I’m going in terms of direction.
Let’s talk about endorsements briefly, for a brief period it looked like you had penned a deal with Adidas.
It was when I was on tour, with Stormzy. They were sending us a lot of stuff for that. So there was just a little time I had a lot of Adidas stuff.
I know this one more concretely but how did you get involved with D’ussé?
I’m a brand ambassador for that one. I got it through my boy who was a brand ambassador already. And he kind of just worked my name into the conversation through music, it was a conversation with urrm, Roc Nation. Then from there they had a D’ussé conversation. It was just my boy really.
And what is your role in working with them?
What it is, is that I’m a part of the D’ussé community so the rappers that are underneath, the rappers that represent it all around the world – soon they’re going to be opening up a network where we all network, there’s going to be events. Obviously with the Roc Nation side of things it allows me to have these conversations if I feel like I have any music I could give to them or things like that. But at the moment it’s just endorsement and me representing the brand.
What about Absurd Bird?
I’m a brand ambassador for Absurd as well. When it comes to promo, a lot of my events I do there that’s going alright as well [laughs]. Lovely food there as well.
So what is your favourite kind of food?
Seafood. I love fish, all types fried fish, boiled fish, brown stew fish, king[fish], bream, snapper everything.
Healthy choice. So what do you do to keep in performance shape as your shows are quite lively?
I train with my little brother. My younger brother’s a footballer, he’s got a very good training programme. I think he modelled it on. . . it was either Jay-Jay Okocha or Didier Drogba. . .you know one of them strong, mad footballers, like you could tell [from the training]. So whenever I need to get into shape or strengthen my performance, or leading up to a show when I’m going to spend a long time on stage I train with him. But I go gym now and then as well.
You’ve had a good start to the year dropping a couple of visuals, what’s brought about this burst of energy?
I’m just trying to make some progress. I mean it’s only so long you can. . .I get sick of people telling me “you’re sick, you should of blown” or like “why ain’t you blown T” and really and truly it’s because I’m not consistent. I’m consistent in terms of like I have a lot of things out but I’m not consistent in terms of the timing. So I have a lot of mixtapes, but from doing one tape a year or not doing videos consistently it doesn’t have the same effect. So my whole thing this year is. . . I’ve kind of slowed down a bit but what I wanted to do is to get to this point in year [approaching] April, and release some music and then start coming with the visuals more consistently. So I’m working on time. I’m sick of people saying “you’re sick but” so I feel like I just need to focus.
You always give a shout out to 6 Figure Music, is there anything you guys are working on collaboratively?
Not at the moment.
I know there must be competition in the camp, but who is the best?
There’s no competition in the camp. There’s no competition, you can’t really compete when people do so many different things. Like we got producers, engineers, rappers, singers everyone just does something different that brings something to the ultimate table.
So no one for instance says they’re the best rapper?
It’s good for everyone to think they’re the best but I don’t know. ‘cause everyone does different types of rap its different. So like for example ySo is the best at what he does, we can’t talk to him when it comes to what he does like even me for example like there certain things that I can’t even talk to him on with what he does. But with what I do I feel like there’s not a lot of people that could talk to me about what I do. But then you got Rickashay and you can’t talk to him when he’s on his wave. It’s hard to compete because yeah we all rap, but we do different things.
Who’s been your favourite collaborators outside of that team?
Probably Ta’Shan. I’ve got a song called Litty Litty with Ta’Shan it was just a sick vibe, the video was a vibe. She’s taught me a lot actually as an artist, just to be persistent with other artists because everyone’s busy. If you message someone once and they don’t get back to you or you line up a session and they have to flop once – she just taught me be persistent because what it is, is no one’s going to be annoyed at you. For instance, if someone’s told me “Yo, I want to do a song” and I’m like cool I’m not going to run you down or chase you for the verse, fair enough but I’m the only one losing out because I want the verse. So it’s for me to chase you up and not just say that person’s being long. So she’s just taught me that if you want something you have to just keep asking and keep going for it because people are genuinely busy: people have kids, people have exams, people are genuinely busy. For a lot of people music is just a dream but its secondary, people go work first. But when it comes to music you just have to chase people up.
Is there anyone you still want to work with?
Wretch. I’m going to work with Wretch this year, we’ve already lined it up. We were supposed to do a song time ago. Wretch, Avelino, Ghetts. . .I’m going to get him with most of the mandem. For me it’s just getting in a place where music is number one. Otherwise there’s no point in having a song with Wretch, putting it out, it doing really well, and then you have nothing else to come or you’re not really on the music. It would be a waste of an opportunity. So now that I’m in the flow of music I feel like I can do these things and get these collaborations and they’ll make sense.
You spoke about Ta’Shan’s influence, is there anyone else who influences or inspired you to do music?
Not really, when I started the only people that really inspired me where the people from my area. So I mean along the way people like Young Jeezy, he’s been a sick inspiration just being a trapstar and a business man. Jay-Z’s been a sick inspiration as well. These are people I’ve kind of homed on to. Even Nipsey Hustle with his proud to pay system, like I did that with my mixtape to see if that worked for me. Like I take things from other people and see if it works for me but do it my own way. I feel like Jadakiss, The Lox, Jay-Z, Nipsey and obviously there’s other people. Giggs inspires me, he’s just relentless I think everyone knows that he just don’t stop, didn’t stop, hasn’t stopped yet. I think he’s the living proof that hard work does pay off if you just keep going. I feel like that’s what I’m here for, my foundation is so solid that if I stop people would lose faith. Everyone says “you’re very good, you’re good enough to be a star” if I don’t get there because I stopped it would be like disappointing because maybe you could have got there. I’ve got to keep going to show that no matter how hard it is, that if you keep going it will work out.
What’s your creative process like, I know for Trap Nominated you had a home studio setup but what’s it usually like?
In terms of songs it just depends. If I download a beat online and it’s sick obviously ill just sit with it myself. If I’m with a producer [I] have some input, try and help out with the beat as much as I can. It’s different depending on the environment so if I’m working at home it’s just me, maybe with my phone, freestyling off the top, maybe not even writing anything down. No set structure.
What’s been your favourite project that you’ve made?
April Showers 2. Just because of the versatility. It was a statement. That was very. . .in my opinion that was very good TE music and some of it still stands to this day. Its timeless stuff. That was just a good time in my life, it was a time where I was in a relationship, I had a lot of my pals around me, it was just a sick time in life.
Are you going to be carrying on with the April Showers series?
If I’m going to do 3 I’ll end it on a trilogy. I don’t know if I’ll do it this year but I’d definitely end it on a trilogy.
Have you considered doing a series with any of the other projects?
I’m going to do Trap Nominated 2, but what I’m going to do is call it Trap Nominated Too, and then get some features on it.
What can we look forward to from you in 2018?
Two mixtapes. More videos, more collaborations, more consistency, that’s my big thing. The first mixtape will come somewhere before summer.
And where can people find you?
@TE_dness on everything.