Article taken from The Face Volume 4 Issue 002. Order your copy here.
Hosting the BBC 1Xtra Rap Show, DJing for Drake, back-to-back festival appearances: no wonder Tiffany Calver hasn’t had time to buy a sofa.
We’re perched on an inflatable substitute in her west London flat, where stacks of cardboard boxes are scattered across the floor and empty frames hang on the wall. She’s been living here since July and, by her own admission, has “probably spent a total of three weeks here”. The rest of the time she’s been off earning her rep as one of the most respected tastemakers in rap.
Growing up in Telford, a large town in the West Midlands, the 17-year-old Calver knew only one person in London when she moved there in 2011 to be closer to the city’s music scene. Now she’s mates with everyone.
Octavian, slowthai and D Double E have shown up for sweaty performances at her Tiffany & Friends party series, held at various east London venues. She played a key role on Drake’s Assassination Vacation European tour, DJing the mid-set interval and inviting up-and-coming artists to perform on the gigantic arena stages back in the spring. And today she fronts a national radio show that scores exclusives with the likes of fast-rising but publicity-shy London duo D‑Block Europe and that’s been co-hosted by Drizzy himself.
Despite loving a good knees-up, Calver is a self-confessed neek (or the “Nigella Lawson of trap” as grime producer Faze Miyake recently called her). Sure, her Instagram shows her jetsetting around the globe, hanging out with the most hyped new artists in music, but she’s keen to stress the hard work that goes on behind the scenes too: “People definitely feel like I blinked and I got to where I am,” she says.
Actually, though, she spent her adolescence blogging for websites for free, graduating to work on popular music sites Hypetrak and SBTV, before bagging a show on underground station Radar Radio in 2015. She honed her skills with £100 DJ gigs that she’d take three night buses to get home from. The hard graft paid off when she secured a national hip-hop show on Kiss FM two years later.
Calver quickly became known for her authentic approach: “I never play a character. I’m just myself.” Listeners would tune in for her intimate chats with American rappers like Jay Rock and Sheck Wes, as well as her hot selections. Then in January of this year came the announcement of her move to the BBC, when she became the first woman to helm 1Xtra’s weekly Rap Show (a slot previously held by Charlie Sloth and Tim Westwood) in its 25-year history. “They took a massive bet on me as I’m the most new to everything at the station,” she acknowledges, “but I’m also probably one of the most ambitious people they’ve had.”
Now 25, the broadcaster occupies one of the most coveted slots in radio. Grime OG Dizzee Rascal recently invited her to preview his new material in the studio, while Drake has her on speed dial, his go-to source for everything good in UK music. “He was listening to my interview with D – Block Europe and text me like: ‘Damn I need to come and see one of their shows.’ He’s doing that off my opinion,” she notes proudly.
Now, having achieved everything her younger self set out to do, what’s next for radio’s most promising frontwoman of the 2020s? “I’ve been challenging myself to dream bigger,” Tiffany Calver says, pointing to a selection of music business books that she’s been getting her teeth stuck into. “I also started using SPF and taking vitamins.” Oh, and she’s finally getting round to ordering that sofa.
Hair Carlene Burton, Makeup Abbie May, Production Rosanna Gouldman, Production manager Katherine Bampton