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At just 16 years old, TS Lagga's stocks are continuing to rise. Here, the rising rapper talks to us about his upcoming releases, opening up his GCSE results at Reading and Leeds Festival and more.

Words & Photography @kitwaah

16-year-old whiz kid TS Lagga has proven to be a one-to-watch in the UK rap scene with his fiery lyricism and melodic drill production. He rose to prominence on TikTok in 2021 with his debut single, ‘What’s Love?’, before securing a Mixtape Madness ‘Next Up’ freestyle and spot in the Hardest U18s BL@CKBOX Cypher. More recently, the 2022 mixtape, Lagga Szn, solidified his reputation for impressive wordplay and versatile flows.

Only a day before his Leeds Festival set, TS dropped ‘Tally That’ and the crowd already knew the single’s quick-witted bars and fierce flows. It’s undeniable that his fans are dedicated, even up north, and the love they showed him throughout was reciprocated by the wordsmith.

At the end of a raucous set, filled with energy and verve, TS pulled out his GCSE results and read them on stage. Cheers erupted as he announced a 7 in English Literature. It was a reminder of just how young the rapper is, despite the unparalleled success he’s received so far.

We caught up with the rising star after his set on the BBC Introducing Stage, to find out what it takes to rise through the ranks while studying for GCSEs.

TS Lagga, Where does the name come from?

Okay, so the TS bit is my initials for my government name and then obviously the Lagga bit comes from wanting to do business and make wealth. Lagga, you know, that’s wealth. It just made sense to associate my government with my wealth.

You read out your GCSE results on stage, and you smashed it so well done!

Thank you!

Tell me a little bit about the last year or so when you were revising for your GCSEs and also chasing music, what did that look like?

The last year I’ve been focusing on music mostly, up until a couple of months ago when I clocked, ‘rah, boom I have my GCSEs soon,' so I had to actually lock off the music fully and focus for a while. That gave me some space in between my music to craft it properly; I knew I had to come back with something proper and that fans will remember me for. Balancing the two has been mad. I couldn’t do it at the same time, you get me?

What did your teachers and everyone at school think about it?

A lot of teachers in my school thought, when I said I did music, that I was just starting. They didn’t know I was actually doing music as my job. They found out eventually and were like, ‘oh yeah, you’re TS Lagga.’ It was difficult, they would stereotype me because of being a rapper. They made it difficult for me in school but by God’s grace I pulled through.

Tell me about the motivation for doing that on stage, the statement of pulling that paper out and reading your results.

I feel like there’s a stereotype, especially around young black male rappers that they don’t have intellect. That’s misinformation. I just wanted to show the crowd that I rap, but that I’m intelligent and have good business acumen also.

You mention business acumen. How do you see yourself? Are you just a rapper? What’s the vision in terms of your career?

I definitely don’t see myself just doing rap because I like to multitask. I can’t just be on one thing. I’m going to take rap and use the network from it to build up the business foundation.

Is there anything specific outside of music that you’re passionate about?

I like to argue, in terms of like negotiating my own contracts and stuff like that. I can hustle you down, I promise you!

What have you learnt from this years festival season 2023?

I’ve learnt that my grind means something. It’s actually getting to people. It’s not just people in London, there are people in Leeds hearing me. It’s taught me that all my work isn’t for nothing.

Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

All I need to do is leave my performance in the hands of God. That’s all I do. He showed up for me today, so I give him thanks once again.

What’s on your rider?

Just get me a little bit fried and I’m good, you get me!

Festival essentials, if you’re going festival what’s one thing you can’t be without?

My charger, my phone’s always dead!

Who’s your dream headliner to support?

I would say, Dave.

Who do you listen to?

I only really listen to myself and that’s not even a vain thing. I feel like when I listen to myself I can feel inspired. Apart from that I only really listen to Dave because I like intelligent people and he has very good pen game. I listen to Dave a lot.

A lot of Dave’s tracks speak on deep and personal topics, is that something that you would look at doing in the future?

Yeah, A lot of people in the scene are waffling right now and it’s not really making any sense, you don’t get any feeling from their music but with Dave, you can understand the stories. His music has a deeper meaning. I aspire to that level.

What would you say to the people who might ask, ‘If you only listen to yourself and Dave, how are you going to know what the scene needs? How are you going to know the direction that you need to take in order to succeed?’

My response to that would be, I’ve been doing it and I’ve got myself to the BBC Introducing Stage. If they want to test whether what I’m doing is working or not, they can go and watch my performance.

What can we expect from you in the near future?

Greatness. You can expect greatness from me because I’m ready to work and I’m ready to grind and I’ve been grinding, you get me.

Listen to 'Tally That' below:


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