From blogging to the 1xtra Rap Show, Notion 88 cover star and guest editor, Tiffany Calver, talks normalising the narrative of women forefronting music, her friendship with Drake, and her impact in radio.
When it comes to the current UK rap scene and the driving forces behind it, nobody has built a more promising and revolutionary outlook than Miss Tiffany Calver. Cementing her position as the poster girl for emerging talent in UK rap, Tiffany has acted as a critical tastemaker in the industry, working with the likes of Fredo, Unknown T, and Headie One. From blogging for the likes of MTV and Hypebeast to being the face of 1xtra Rap Show on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra, her success has put her in places she’d never thought she’d be.
- Shoes Clark's Originals
Tiffany Calver’s Guest Editor Letter
One of the best and worst things my mother ever told me was that I can be anything I want to be. As a Nigerian, St. Lucian woman this is somewhat of a rarity for a parent to say to their child. I had total freedom, and her blessing, to do and be anything – and I absolutely hated it.
For years of my childhood I would obsess over what that was, and why she couldn’t just pick for me. Having the freedom to find myself wasn’t something I fathomed as a luxury of sorts growing up because quite frankly, I did not have the patience or imagination to dream. I just wanted to make her proud. Every day for a time I would hound her to just “tell me what you want me to be so I can be it!”. She always refused.
Fortunately we both got our way in the end. I am becoming everything I wanted to be, and she was, is, and always will be incredibly proud of me for it.
I was around 16 years old when I fully delved heart first into working in the music industry. Years of binge watching T4 on Sunday’s with Alexa Chung and Nick Grimshaw, and religiously locking into Radio 1 at the weekends to dance around my living room to 50 Cent and Dipset (a tradition I carried on from when me and my mum would have parties together and drink juice, skipping around the coffee table in our living room as a kid) had dazzled my mind into wanting to be just like all of them. I remember going to see Watch The Throne in concert with my mum. We were so far away from the stage you had to squint to even get a glimpse of Kanye and Jay Z. It was at that concert that I remember saying to my mother sincerely that “we’ll be down there one day”. Little did I know we would be sure enough, in fact, I’d be opening up for Jay-Z and Beyoncé in the Olympic Stadium just years later.
Not only that, but the show we’d dance around our coffee table to, would also end up being my radio show. The artist I’d discovered on Myspace as a teenager and always begged my mum to see in concert, but we could never afford the tickets, would one day ask me to tour Europe with him as his opening DJ. The music she raised me listening to became the music I got to play to the nation every Saturday night. Every festival booking. All of it. My mother may never have told me who I should be, but she damn sure played a hand in it.
The first and proudest moment for me was seeing my name in print. I’d been given a small slot in Company Magazine for their “music edit” where they stated “Music Blogger Tiffany Calver from Shropshire has got her eye on some quality tuneage”. I got to pick a handful of artists and songs to co-sign to their readers including Kendrick Lamar (before he was Kendrick Lamar) and Jessie Ware. I had a tiny blog at the time where I’d write daily about my new findings. My friends would let me premiere their songs, like Slowthai, who went under a different name back then. I guess that even back then I was onto something.
To think that in 2020 I’d get the opportunity to do a total 360 on my beginnings and not have one page, but a total magazine dedicated to my musical taste, is very surreal. Just like then, I have curated a handful of artists to share with Notion readers, all whom I have a strong belief in and more importantly, I’m a huge fan of.
I’m still not quite sure if I’ve nailed what it means to be “Tiffany Calver” as I’d hoped to all those years ago, but I’d like to think i’m on the right path. Maybe there’s girls out there who are just like me, who now dance around coffee tables to my radio show, or look at me on a stage and sincerely say to themselves that’ll be them one day. Maybe I’ll take them on tour. Maybe they’ll take me on tour! All I know is, just as I have in this very special collaborative issue of Notion, I am finally at peace with the total freedom that comes with being me, and mother aside, that makes me really proud too.