When an artist lists both the Wu-Tang Clan and Samuel Beckett as its influences, it is often the stuff of hipster fluff, but U.K. poet and rapper Kate Tempest backs those name-drops up with a Big Dada recording contract and a Ted Hughes Award for innovation in poetry. Born in Brockley, South London, Tempest launched her career at 16, performing at open-mike nights at the local record shop. In 2010, she formed the hip-hop group Sound of Rum while launching a career in solo performance poetry. Between the two gigs, she found herself opening shows for artists as diverse as post-punk poet John Cooper Clarke and rapper Scroobius Pip. Sound of Rum released their album Balance in 2011, while Tempest's first book of poetry, Everything Speaks in Its Own Way, was released by Zingaro Books in 2012. In 2013, she performed her work Brand New Ancients with orchestral backing at London's Battersea Arts Centre, which won the Ted Hughes Award for innovation in poetry that same year.
Tempest made her solo album debut in 2014 with Everybody Down, released by the Ninja Tune-affiliated label Big Dada. The young talent returned in 2016 with her second book and first novel, The Bricks That Built the Houses, a tale focused on class, race, and sexuality. The book was a success and went on to win the Sunday Times Award for Best Selling Novel. 2016 wasn't short of material from the young poet, seeing the release of her second record, Let Them Eat Chaos later that year. ~ David Jeffries