The north London MC recently scored drill’s first No 1 single, a triumphant turnaround after spells in prison. He explains why he wants to lift up a community living in ‘survival mode’

Dennis Junior Odunwo, AKA Tion Wayne, is a hard man to pin down. After a short wild-goose chase from our intended meeting point, we meet at a friend’s house in Lower Edmonton, London, where Odunwo has just finished getting his hair cut, to discuss his debut album, Green With Envy. Odunwo’s often menacing delivery on the mic contradicts his in-person demeanour; he’s polite and friendly, almost bashful. He’s still coming to grips with the vulnerable nature of interviews, he admits. “I’m not all the way there yet. I don’t really like giving away all of myself.”

Green With Envy is his first album, although the 28-year-old has long been an emergent star in the UK rap scene, first cropping up on YouTube in 2010 and gaining further hype with his Wayne’s World mixtape trilogy. His use of melody marks him out, with punchy staccato rhythms and sing-song delivery meshing perfectly with the hi-hats of drill. He has had a string of Top 10 hits including I Dunno – featuring guest stars Stormzy and Dutchavelli – and two catchy, cheeky tracks with Russ Millions: 2019’s Keisha & Becky and 2021’s Body. Each was further enhanced with posses on remixes, and the latter became the drill genre’s first No 1 in May (and won him two gongs at this week’s Rated awards). The disbelief still tickles him. “I was expecting it to take off, but not like that, no,” he laughs. “I don’t think anyone could anticipate that.”

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