Music manager Dumi Oburota remembers with a smile just how short of money he and rapper Tinie Tempah often were before they hit the big time.

Tinie, today a multi award-winning singer, with two best-selling albums and two UK number one singles under his belt, was back in 2003 an unknown 14-year-old Londoner just beginning to try to make it as a performer.

Dumi, the son of a family friend, and then 20, was at the time starting out in music management.

He says that after first hearing Tinie rap he immediately tried to persuade the singer to sign with him.

Tinie, whose real name is Patrick Okogwu, agreed, and the two started out together on the road to stardom.

Yet with the rapper not getting a record deal until the end of 2009, it was a long six-year journey, often with little cash along the way.

Dumi OburotaDumi Oburota originally wanted to be a singer himself, but switched to management

Dumi, now 32, says: “Tinie has always been a great performer, but as his manager I needed to boost his profile, such as him being seen in all the best clubs, and meeting all the right people.

“So we’d go together to nightclubs, and only have £20 between us. We’d stand there together, not being able to afford to buy a drink, and hoping that no-one would ask us to buy them one, because we just couldn’t afford it.”

‘Street credible’

Dumi, who like Tinie hails from south east London, was at the time also continuing a degree in sports science at the University of Greenwich.

A keen lover of urban music himself, he had tried to forge his own career as a rapper, but says he ultimately realised that his voice wasn’t good enough. Instead, he decided that he would be better suited as a music manager.

So while finishing his degree, to make sure he had a different career to fall back on if he needed to, he says he started to study all he could about music management, via the internet and by buying books.

After Tinie signed with him, Dumi invested his student loans in getting his friend studio time, and made extra money to invest in his act by buying old cars, doing them up, and then selling them on at a profit.

But in addition to helping Tinie record new songs, offering musical advice, and driving him to live performances, Dumi says he worked hard on making Tinie more confident, more streetwise.

“It was obvious that Tinie had massive talent, he looked good… he was great at rapping, but he was young and needed to live a little, so I took him under my wing for a few years,” says Dumi.

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