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Dappy and Tulisa Contostavlos, 2012
|Birth name||Costadinos Contostavlos|
11 June 1987 |
Camden, London, England
Costadinos Contostavlos (born 11 June 1987), better known by his stage name Dappy, is an English singer, songwriter, rapper, and actor. He is best known for being the lead singer of the Camden-based grime trio N-Dubz, with his cousin Tulisa, and Fazer. He was known for his slightly unusual dress sense and his love for what he describes as "eye-catching headwear". His trademark was wearing a selection of woolly chullos (sometimes referred to as "Dappy hats"), turning up one or both of the ear-flaps of the hat.
Born and raised in Camden Town, North London, Contostavlos grew up with his parents, Byron Contostavlos and Zoi Agorou and older brother Spiros. His father had been a member of the group Mungo Jerry. Byron died on 12 April 2007. He is of Greek-Cypriot descent.
When Contostavlos was younger, he attended Richard Cobden Primary school, then St Aloysius secondary, a Roman Catholic boys-only school in Islington, attending for a year before being expelled for truancy. In N-Dubz's book Against All Odds: From Street Life to Chart Life, Dappy says that he doesn't remember the school "because I wasn't there often". He then attended Bishop Douglass School when he was around twelve years old, where he got into fights "almost everyday", which "...always started if someone had been making fun of me or something stupid".
However, realising they shared so much in common, Dappy and Fazer (who he had first met at karate lessons when he was 9, before becoming best friends with him at school) started making beats together and coming up with lyrics, later asking Dappy's cousin, Tulisa (who was reluctant at first), to join the band and started to perform in and around Camden Town from the age of thirteen. At the time they were called the Lickle Rinsers Crew and went under the management of Dappy's father Byron, who to Dappy was the "inspiration behind the band". Byron worked at a local barbers shop, putting all the money he had into equipment and resources for the band at their studio. However, Byron died on 12 April 2007 after a heart attack and N-Dubz wrote the song "Papa (Can You Hear Me?)", which was played at his funeral and became the group's second biggest hit at #19, and at #17 in the download charts. Dappy later described his dad's death as "the lowest point in our lives, we had no money, no manager, no driver, no accountant, but most of all I had no father—B was everything to me and it hurts so much to think that he never got to see what we have achieved now, but I know he's looking down on us and he'd be really proud".
Dappy had the words "RIP Dad" tattooed on his neck and doesn't like to say his dad's name, instead referring to him as "B" or "Uncle B", which was also the name of N-Dubz's debut album. Before Byron died, he said he'd like their album to be called Against All Odds but, after his death, the group called their debut album Uncle B in tribute, with their second album being called Against All Odds.
2000–11: N-Dubz era
Dappy appeared on the television show Never Mind the Buzzcocks on 29 November 2007, on Phill Jupitus' team, and wore a trademark "Dappy hat", also giving one to Simon Amstell to wear as part of the gag. Despite vowing he would not return to the show he appeared for a second time on the guest team on 4 December 2008 and for a third time, on Phill's team, which was broadcast on 18 November 2009. He is known to be a good friend of Chris Moyles and also gets on well with Tinchy Stryder after releasing a single together, called "Number 1", although in the past they have said to have fallen out many times over credits for the song. They responded by telling the crowd after their performance at BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend in May 2009, "and remember, don't believe what the media say 'cos it ain't true". Dappy has made cameo appearances on K.I.G's "Head, Shoulders, Kneez and Toez" music video, Gracious K's "Migraine Skank" music video, and Chipmunk's "Chip Diddy Chip" music video, as one of Chipmunk's school friends.
2011–14: Solo projects and Bad Intentions
It was announced on 17 June 2011 that N-Dubz had left their American record deal, amid rumours that the band had split. These rumours began circulating again in August 2011; however, Dappy insisted the band had not split, but were simply taking a break. As such, during the band's hiatus period, all three members decided to embark upon solo careers. Before the band's split, Dappy signed a contract with Takeover Entertainment Ltd that confirmed that if the band ever split or went on hiatus, he would continue as a solo artist. His first taste of solo stardom came as a guest artist on label-mate Tinchy Stryder's single "Spaceship", which was released in June 2011. While deciding upon his debut solo single, Dappy was contacted by Def Jam, asking him what he would like done with the demos of a track N-Dubz had recorded whilst under the label, which remained unreleased. Dappy decided to re-record the track, "No Regrets", and release it as his debut solo effort. Featuring a cameo appearance from band-mate Fazer, "No Regrets" took the charts by storm, peaking at #1 in the UK and Scotland, and at #8 in Ireland.
Following the success of "No Regrets", Dappy claimed during an interview that: "With my solo stuff, I really want to earn the respect of an older audience. I don't think there's any shame in trying to write music that will be recognised by people I admire. Bono. I have big goals. I want to have two #1 singles back-to-back as a solo artist." Dappy soon succeeded, gaining praise from Queen guitarist Brian May, who was "impressed" with "No Regrets". As a result, Dappy invited May for a guest stint on his second single, which co-incidentally was titled "Rockstar". "Rockstar" was released on 26 February 2012. On 29 February, Dappy revealed that the title of his album would be Bad Intentions, claiming that the album "is motivational music for people who believe they can't do nothing, a battle we have with our own mind." The album's third single was "Come with Me". Subsequently, he revealed that the fourth single will be "Good Intentions", and if "Rockstar" peaks at #1 on the UK Singles Chart, he will enlist Barbadian singer Rihanna and British superstar Adele, who will both have vocal sections on the single. He claimed that Rihanna contacted him after she was impressed with a demo tape she had heard of his music. Dappy confirmed in September 2011, before the release of "Rockstar" and "Bad Intentions", that the album's final single will be a collaboration with The Wanted, which will be released towards the end of 2012.[needs update]
2015–present: Eros Apollo and singles
Dappy's single "Beautiful Me" was released on 29 March 2015 and reached number 19 in the UK. He followed this up with the promotional release "100 (Built for This)" in July, and the full single "Money Can't Buy" in September 2015. All three songs were set to be included on his second album Miracles in November 2015, but the album did not eventuate. Dappy then released his first EP, Eros Apollo, on Christmas Day 2015.
In 2016, he released the singles "Hip Hip Hooray" and "Kiss".
Criticism and controversy
In mid 2007, Dappy released "Love for My Slum" with fellow UK rap artist Baker Trouble, which was number one on Channel U (now Channel AKA) for several weeks and was a big hit in the underground urban scene. However, it didn't do as well with the media and was heavily criticized for a scene in which Dappy is standing outside a block of expensive luxury flats with a "rich kid" who is trying to look like a gangster. The Independent wrote, "His lyrics combine jealousy with anger: 'You got too much to lose / You're in a great position... You wouldn't last a minute where I'm from / You'd go missing / So appreciate what you got / 'cos I'm still wishing.' And then he grabs the rich kid by his coat, pulls him toward him, and punches him in the face. The silent boy falls instantly to the pavement ... Do scenes like these suggest that music videos are encouraging their viewers to indulge in criminality?". Other papers put that he was "idolising thuggery". When asked in interviews about the single, following these comments he said "these people need to listen to the lyrics, they are about showing appreciation to what you've got".
During December 2008, Dappy pleaded guilty to two accounts of assault at Chelmsford Magistrates Court, Essex after reportedly spitting in a girl's face while drunk on a night out. Dappy pleaded guilty to the offences and for each count received four weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, to run concurrently and 100 hours community service. He was also ordered to pay £50 compensation to the girl and her friend and £300 costs.
On 29 January 2009, Contostavlos was arrested and bailed after he was accused of making death threats with a gun. He denied the allegation. His home in Camden was raided following the incident, by police looking for a firearm. Three days later he was removed from an Edinburgh to London flight by police after it touched down, with fellow N-Dubz performer Fazer, after appearing to be acting disorderly. A source said: "They were swearing at kids on the plane, being foul and threatening passengers. Cabin crew called ahead to the police, who were waiting when the plane landed. They were taken away by armed officers."
On 12 January 2010, Contostavlos appeared on The Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1 with Fazer and Tulisa. The show received a text message from a woman in Boston, Lincolnshire, complaining that Dappy was "vile" and "a little boy with a silly hat" and that N-Dubz were "losers". Dappy secretly copied her phone number from the studio console and, the following day, tried calling her and sent threatening messages including: "Your [sic] gonna die. U sent a very bad msg towards Ndubz on The Chris Moyels [sic] show yesterday Morning and for that reason u will never be left alone!!! u say sorry I will leave u alone u ****." Moody claimed that she continued to receive messages after declining to apologise, one of which said: "u dum f****** ***head u can call me names over the radio but when I call u direct u chicken out u punk!nana f****** niii, Dappy").[nb 1] Dappy's management later apologised on his behalf and offered free tickets to one of his concerts, but he has not apologised to Moody personally. N-Dubz were subsequently dropped from the Government's anti-bullying "R U Cyber Safe?" campaign. The rapper previously appeared with Schools Secretary Ed Balls to launch pop single "R U Cyber Safe?" in November 2009, and Balls said he was "thrilled to have them on board". After the band was dropped, he commented that "[the] text message was totally unacceptable. There is no excuse. We have no further plans to work with the band."
Dappy apologised on GMTV in April 2010 after CCTV pictures were published of his taking the illegal drug Mephedrone in a night club. He apologised, insisting "It's just not a thing to be doing. I've learnt my mistake. I'll never do such things again", going on to say, "I was just a bit tipsy and it just fell into the wrong place at the wrong time."
Following the mephedrone apology, Dappy was asked to leave Alton Towers theme park hotel in Staffordshire, for allegedly smoking cannabis after guests complained about a "funny smell" coming from his room. An Alton Towers spokesperson told Sky News that "We can confirm a guest was asked to leave."
In October 2011, Dappy was arrested on suspicion of assaulting the mother of his two children, Kaye Vassell, and was later released without charge.
In February 2012, he was arrested and bailed on suspicion of affray, along with a second man after a reported incident involving two women and a group of men at a filling station in Guildford, Surrey.
In 2012, Dappy was again obliged to apologise after calling in a music video for the release of Learco Chindamo, the murderer of Headmaster Philip Lawrence. He later claimed he hadn't realised Chindamo was a murderer. Mr Lawrence’s widow, Frances, said she didn’t find the apology ‘entirely convincing’, especially as her name had been wrongly spelt.
In January 2013, Contostavlos was found guilty by a jury at Guildford Crown Court of assault by beating. Sentencing was adjourned by Judge Neil Stewart in order to prepare pre-sentence reports. Sentencing took place on 15 February 2013.
On 6 October 2013, Dappy hit a man on his nose at a nightclub in Reading, Berkshire. Dappy was convicted of assault on 5 September 2014 at Reading Magistrates' Court.
Dappy is cousin to fellow band member Tulisa. Dappy lives in St Albans with his girlfriend, Kaye Vassell, and their two sons, Gino and Milo. Gino was born in January 2009 and Dappy's second son, Milo, was born on 10 December 2010.
N-Dubz were forced to reschedule some of their live shows from the Uncle B tour after Dappy was diagnosed with temporary deafness. He later said the ordeal "was terrible and it has really taught me to take better care of my ears because I wouldn't be the musician I am today if I couldn't hear". However he still "suffers from really bad tinnitus after ignoring advice not to turn his headphones up" according to his ex-girlfriend and "he can't get to sleep unless there's some loud background noise to drown out the ringing. He will leave the shower running all night, thundering away, so he can sleep".
He revealed that he is a "massive" Arsenal fan when N-Dubz appeared on Live from Studio Five, gushing "it is an honour to sit next to you" to former Arsenal striker Ian Wright who was one of three hosts on the show.
In September 2011, he revealed that he puts pepper into his toddler's mouth when he swears which received a lot of criticism from parents and critics.
- Bad Intentions (2012)
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