As her first official single goes Top 10, the London rapper discusses doing things her way, Cardi B's success and... setting off an Icelandic volcano
There’s been a certainty about the rise of Stefflon Don. Even before the release of her ‘Real Ting’ mixtape in December 2016 she wore the air – and the pricey style – of a highly successful pop star. Her success, you feel, has been inevitable, to the extent that even though Stephanie Allen tried to jump the fence to get into the Wireless festival just two years ago, her name, half way down the bill this past summer, looked almost out of place. With everything she does Stefflon Don holds herself like a future headliner, and her career is just catching up.
Born in Birmingham to Jamaican parents, at an early age she and her family moved to Rotterdam, Holland, before she returned to live in London as a teenager. She decided at age eight that she wanted to be a musician, later discovering she was a skilled rapper as well as singer.
Her ascent so far has been typified by her self-confidence, focussed ambition and refusal to compromise. One example: she held off signing a record deal until her suitors (Universal) agreed to her terms of controlling her own imprint, V-IV.
‘Hurtin’ Me’, released last month, is technically her first official single, and week by week it continues to creep up the charts (now into the Top 10). Sat in a hotel restaurant, I caught up with her recently to chat through a range of topics, including her performance at this year’s Iceland Airwaves festival taking place next month.
‘Hurtin’ Me’ – playlisted by the major radio stations, a video that’s had eight million views, high in the charts… How has it felt to have that reception on your first official single?
It’s really good, so good. You always say you’re going to do it and then when you do it’s like, ‘okay’. I’m appreciative of all the support I get, I’m happy for it.
Did you have a goal in mind for what the song would achieve?
I always just say, I want good music. Obviously you always hope it does well. I said to my manager the other day, I don’t want to just make songs that I feel like ‘this is going to go number one’ or ‘this is going to go top 10’. It’s all about whether I like a song. It might not go top 10 but I really like it. If it goes top 10 or whatever that’s amazing, and if it doesn’t that’s still amazing. People are going to listen to it forever. I feel like the fans can tell as well, when you love a song.