Tulisa Contostavlos

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Tulisa Contostavlos
Birth name Tula Paulinea Contostavlos
Born (1988-07-13) 13 July 1988 (age 26)
Camden, London
Occupations Singer, songwriter, model, former The X Factor judge
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2000–present
Labels AATW (2008–)
Island (2011–)
Polydor (2007–08)
Def Jam (2010–11)
Associated acts N-Dubz
Website TulisaOfficial.com

Tula Paulinea "Tulisa" Contostavlos (Born 13 July 1988) is an English singer-songwriter.

She is best known for being a member of the now defunct Camden-based hip hop group N-Dubz, with her cousin Dappy and their friend Fazer. N-Dubz formed in 2000 and released three studio albums before announcing their indefinite hiatus in 2011.

During 2011 to 2012, she participated as a judge on the The X Factor. She mentored the "Groups" category in her first year, including Little Mix, the first ever group to win the competition. On 16 March 2012, during a Twitter dispute with Dappy, Contostavlos announced that N-Dubz had split up, and were not taking a break as stated in 2011.[1] Contostavlos released her debut solo album, The Female Boss, on 26 November 2012 which received negative feedback and poor first-week sales.[2]

Early life

Contostavlos was born in Camden Town, North London, to an Irish mother, Anne Byrne (who, with her three sisters, was a member of the 1980s band Jeep)[3] and a Greek Cypriot father, Byron Contostavlos (who was at one time a member of Mungo Jerry);[4] Her paternal grandfather was once a UN diplomat.[5] When Tulisa was five, her mother, who has bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.[3] She said that she was brought up in a 3 bedroom house and experienced a lot as a teenager: violence, depression, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, anorexia nervosa, mental health issues, financial difficulties and bullying.[6]

She revealed that she twice tried to kill herself as a teenager and also used to self-harm to try to help her cope with everything she was going through.[6] With support from her uncle, N-Dubz's former manager, Byron Contostavlos, at age 14 she enrolled at Haverstock Secondary School, later attending Quintin Kynaston School[3] in St John's Wood, but she didn't sit her GCSE examinations.[3]


Main article: N-Dubz

Dappy and Fazer, who had already started rapping together, decided they wanted a female voice in the group, which was called the Lickle Rinsers Crew at the time, and so invited Contostavlos to be part of the group. They started performing together as a group around Camden from as young as twelve years old. For N-Dubz's second album, she did a solo song called "Comfortable". Performing as the Lickle Rinsers Crew, they released the singles "Bad Man Riddim" and "Life Is Getting Sicker by the Day", which became hits on English pirate radio stations.[7] After Lickle Rinsers Crew, they then became NW1, after the area they hail from, making their first music video in 2005 for the track "Everyday Of My Life", which received airplay on Channel U, recording more demos as NW1 such as "Don't Feel Like Moving", "Girl On Road" and "Livin Broke". Their first single to be released was "You Better Not Waste My Time", which was available for download only until their 2006 self-released single, "I Swear", which gained them their first mainstream notice. It wasn't until 2007's "Feva Las Vegas" (also self-released) that the group appeared on the UK charts, peaking at No. 57.[8] Each member appeared on the second series of Channel 4's Dubplate Drama after they began to get noticed as a group.

N-Dubz performing

In May 2008, a song entitled "Ouch" surfaced along with a music video.[9] The video for "Ouch" attracted over 4 million viewers on networking site YouTube in just over a month after release. On 6 August 2008, it was announced that the group had left Polydor Records and had signed to All Around the World records. The label predominantly specializes in dance music; however, they have occasionally released hip hop records such as Ice Cube's You Can Do It. The press release stated that the label would be releasing "Ouch" as the group's first single on the label in September 2008.[10] The group's first album, Uncle B, was released on 17 November 2008. The album includes "You Better Not Waste My Time", "I Swear", "Feva Las Vegas", "Love for My Slums", "Ouch", "Defeat You" and "Papa Can You Hear Me?".[11] "Strong Again" was touted as the third single to be released from the Uncle B album on 16 February 2009 and a music video was made,[12] before the physical CD released of the song was cancelled for unknown reasons. The song charted for five weeks in the UK Singles Chart, peaking highest at number 24.[13] Group member Dappy was featured in Tinchy Stryder's 2009 No. 1 single tentatively titled "Number 1", the video also featured cameo appearances from all N-Dubz's members.[14] Due to the success of their debut album, the group embarked on their first headlining tour, Uncle B tour. The tour was originally planned for 16 dates but due to high demand 5 extra dates were added. The tour was supported by Stevie Hoang and Tinchy Stryder with whom N-Dubz collaborated with on his No. 1 single "Number 1". During one performance, Tulisa fainted on stage. Multiple news sources reported that it was due to suspected swine flu.[15][16] The song "Wouldn't You" was then announced to be the seventh, and last, single to be released from the Uncle B debut album.[17] The song was released digitally on 25 May 2009 and peaked at No. 64 in the UK.[18]

The lead single from the group's second album titled "I Need You" was released on 9 November 2009 and charted at No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart. The album Against All Odds, was released on 16 November 2009,[19] and charted at No. 6 in the UK Album Chart. The album went platinum within approximately 2 months of release. The second single, "Playing with Fire" features R&B/pop musician, Mr Hudson. The song reached No. 15 in the UK Charts on album downloads alone; however, when the single was released, it fell to No. 16, reaching a new peak at No. 14 the week after. The music video for the third single taken from the album, "Say It's Over", was released on 5 March 2010 on Channel AKA. It was announced that the single will be released on 25 April, it reached No. 27 on album downloads alone before the single was released. In late 2009, N-Dubz announced that they will tour their current album, Against All Odds in spring 2010, making it their third tour in two years, starting on 31 March and finishing on 20 April. It included 17 shows with supporting acts Skepta, Talay Riley and Ultra. On 1 April 2010, they released their first book, N-Dubz – Against All Odds: From Street Life to Chart Life, which they described as "the answer to the critics, there is a lot of bad press about N-Dubz at the moment and this is going to put the record straight about who we really are and what we're about!", saying they want to put "everything out there", and Fazer also adding "It's going to surprise you!".[20] The book also gives access to a secret N-Dubz website.

The group filmed a 6 part documentary, Being... N-Dubz, which premiered on 21 June 2010 on 4Music,[21] and was later renewed for a second series in 2011.[22] After much speculation, it was confirmed that US label Def Jam signed the group. The first release was the album Love.Live.Life, N-Dubz's third studio album. It was released in the UK on 29 November 2010. The group began recording the album following the success of Against All Odds.[23] "We Dance On" was released on 20 May 2010, as the album's lead single. It peaked at #5 on the UK Singles Chart. The song was also included on the soundtrack to the film Streetdance 3D. "Best Behaviour" was released on 17 October 2010 as the second single from the album. It peaked at 10 in both the UK and Scotland, and became a top 40 hit in Ireland.[24] The song also appears on Skepta's album Doin' It Again. "Girls" was released as the album's third single on 12 December 2010. It peaked at 19 on the UK Singles Chart.[25] A fourth track from the album, "So Alive" was released as single on 6 February 2011. Five singles were released from Love.Live.Life. The first, "We Dance On", had previously been released in May 2010 from the StreetDance soundtrack. On 1 September 2010, N-Dubz announced via Facebook that their first new single from the album would be "Best Behaviour", which was eventually released on 17 October. The music video premiered on Channel AKA and Clubland TV on 8 September and was uploaded on YouTube by AATW Records later that day.[26] The final three singles from Love. Life. Live were "Girls", "So Alive" and "Morning Star".[27] Love. Life. Live became N-Dubz' third platinum selling album.[22]

In August 2011, it emerged that N-Dubz had parted company with record label Def Jam, stating that they were "Never going to co-operate with them when they decided to change what we are".[28] With Tulisa taking up a role as a judge on eighth series of The X Factor and Dappy releasing his solo single "No Regrets", N-Dubz' gig on 18 September 2011 was described as "their final gig for the foreseeable future".[22]

Solo career

2012: The Female Boss

In 2012, Tulisa confirmed that she had started work on a solo album that would be released on 17 September 2012. On 19 April 2012, Contostavlos told Capital FM "You're going to have a track for every mood." I want it to be like a journey so you'll have everything from if you want to party on a night out, to big ballads if you've broken up with a boyfriend to more UK urban music."[29] The first single to be released from the album was "Young". The promo video for "Young" was filmed on 2 March in Miami. On 29 April 2012, "Young" was released as part of a remixes EP, which charted at number five on the Irish Singles Chart and number 1 in the UK. On 16 March 2012 during a Twitter row with her cousin and bandmate Dappy, it was alleged that N-dubz had split after he decided to cut off communications with the group members. But the pair eventually reconciled on 28 June. Contostavlos returned for the ninth series in 2012, alongside Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow and Nicole Scherzinger, who replaced Kelly Rowland and finished as the winning judge with James Arthur.[30] Contostavlos unveiled her third solo single "Sight of You" was released on 2 December to mostly negative reviews and charted lower than expected at number 18,[31] the following week beginning 3 December her debut album The Female Boss was released to negative reviews and charted poorly with low sales at number 35.[2]

2013–present: Second studio album

In March 2013, it was reported Tulisa had begun work on a new album, stating: "I'm going to make a few singles soon, and I want to take my sound back to basics."[32] It was reported that Contostavlos was in talks with Kanye West hoping to line up West as a producer and writer for her upcoming second album, A source stated: "Kanye could give her a hit, which is what she desperately needs. Look at what will.i.am did for Britney Spears recently."[33][34]


Contostavlos was named at number 15 in FHM's '100 Sexiest Women in the World list' in the May 2010 issue. She topped the list in 2012.[35] Contostavlos released her second solo single "Live It Up", which features guest vocals from American rapper Tyga.[36] on 9 September 2012 and debuted at number 11 in the UK.[37] On 27 September, Tulisa released "Honest: My Story So Far", the singer's official autobiography, she also revealed she will be releasing a fiction novel.

The X Factor

On 30 May 2011, Tulisa was confirmed to replace Cheryl Cole as a judge for the eighth series of The X Factor, alongside original panelist Louis Walsh and fellow new judges Gary Barlow and Kelly Rowland, who replaced Simon Cowell and Dannii Minogue.[38][39] The first public auditions began on 23 June 2011, with the new judging panel being sighted together for the first time.[40] Contostavlos mentored the Groups category and mentored 2 Shoes, Nu Vibe, The Risk, and Little Mix during the live shows. After three out of four of her acts were eliminated in the first five weeks of the competition, Constostavlos was left with Little Mix. The group then went on to become the most successful girl band in The X Factor history, having avoided the final showdown every week and winning the show in the process, making them the first group to do so in the show's eight year history.[41]

On 22 February 2013, it was reported that Contostavlos was set to be axed from The X Factor judging panel for its tenth series.[42] On 22 April, it was reported that Contostavlos may keep her place on the judging panel.[43] On 21 May, ending months of speculation, Contostavlos confirmed that she would be leaving The X Factor after two series.[44] She was replaced by original judge Sharon Osbourne.[45]

Acting career

Contostavlos played the role of Laurissa (a cocaine addict who is in R&B group The Fam) in the TV series Dubplate Drama. She will play herself in the upcoming film, Bulla,[46] and is to make her big screen debut in Arjun Rose slasher Demons Never Die.[47]

Personal life


Starting in 2008 and lasting for around 18 months, Contostavlos dated South London based DJ/rapper/singer, Justin Edwards also known as MC Ultra.

In 2010, Contostavlos was on a BBC programme called Tulisa: My Mum And Me describing her life before N-Dubz looking after her mother.[48] She was in a relationship with N-Dubz band-mate Fazer from May 2010 but the relationship ended after an argument on holiday in early February 2012.

In 2012 Tulisa had a brief relationship with Skins actor Jack O'Connell; it was reported they split due to incompatible work schedules.[49][50]

Sex tape

In March 2012, a sex tape of Contostavlos and her former lover Justin Edwards emerged on the internet.[51] Contostavlos was granted an injunction (Contostavlos v Mendahun) that legally blocks the distribution of the tape.[52] The injunction prohibits anyone from using, publishing, communicating or disclosing all or any part of the film to any other person.[53][54]

Simon Cowell stated that the scandal would not affect her job on The X Factor. In the aftermath she later recorded a video response in which she clarified the relationship on her YouTube account "Tulisaconto",[55][56] and stated that she was both heartbroken and devastated by Justin Edwards' release of the video.[51][57]

In July 2012, she settled a legal action against Edwards, who apologised for releasing the tape.[58] Her lawyer is still pursuing action against Edwards' former manager Chris Herbert, who has had his job as a consultant on The X Factor suspended.[59]


On 4 June 2013, Contostavlos was arrested by police on suspicion of supplying class A drugs[60] and bailed to a date in July 2013 and it was revealed that two residential properties had been searched as part of the investigation.[60] She was formally charged on 9 December with suspicion of class A drugs and appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on 19 December where she denied the charge of being concerned with the supply of 13.9 grams of cocaine. She was granted unconditional bail and then appeared at Southwark Crown Court on 9 January.[61] Her trial date was then set for 14 July 2014.[62] During her trial, she admitted using cannabis to help her sleep and also admitted having connections with drug dealers. In addition to this, she told the court one of her ex-boyfriends had been a major cocaine dealer and that, in the past, she had sold crack cocaine as part of a gang.[63] The case was dismissed as the judge believed prosecution witness Mazher Mahmood had lied to the court.[64]


On 25 July 2014, Contostavlos was fined at a magistrates court in East London for assaulting a celebrity blogger at the V festival, Essex in August 2013.[65]




Year Title Role Notes
2007–2009 Dubplate Drama Laurissa
2010 Tulisa: My Mum & Me Herself Presenter
2011 Big Fat Gypsy Gangster Shanikwa
Demons Never Die Amber
2011–2012 The X Factor (UK) Herself Judge/mentor
April 2012 The Chris Moyles Show Herself Temporary Team Member


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External links