Ty (rapper)

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Birth nameBenedict Okwuchukwu Godwin Chijioke
Also known asT.Y.
Ben Chijioke
Born(1972-08-17)17 August 1972
London, England
OriginBrixton, London, England
Died7 May 2020(2020-05-07) (aged 47)
London, England
GenresHip hop
Occupation(s)Vocalist, rapper, producer
Years active1990s–2020
LabelsBBE, Big Dada, Jazz re:freshed

Benedict Okwuchukwu Godwin Chijioke // (17 August 1972 – 7 May 2020), better known by his stage name Ty /ˈt/, was a Nigerian-British rapper.[1][2] He released the albums Awkward (2001), Upwards (2003), Closer (2006), Special Kind of Fool (2010) and A Work of Heart (2018). Upwards was nominated for a Mercury Prize.[3] Ty collaborated with musicians such as Shortee Blitz,[4] Drew Horley,[5] Tony Allen,[6] Roots Manuva[7] and De La Soul.[7]

Early life[edit]

Benedict Okwuchukwu Godwin Chijioke was born in London into an Igbo family from Nigeria.[8][9] He spent many years of his youth in the care of private foster parents in Jaywick, Essex—as reported in a 2019 Channel 4 News feature by Symeon Brown—[7][10] "so they could focus on work and study."[7] In the piece he said: "As kids we had no clue why we were here, and then my parents said 'we're going now, but you're staying'," he said. "So we didn't know why we were being left here. And just feeling a little bit abandoned really."[7]


In the early 1990s, he was discovered after competing at the open mic competition at Muthaland at the Borderline in London's West End. He continued to hone his skills and make connections there for a few years.[citation needed] In 1995, he co-founded Ghetto Grammar, a pioneer in hip hop education in the UK.[9] Ty's first album, Awkward, was released on Big Dada in 2001.[9][11] His second album, Upwards, was released in 2003 and reached No.35 in the UK Independent album charts.[12] The single from it, "Oh U Want More?", reached No.65 in the UK Top 100.[13] Upwards was nominated for a Mercury Prize in 2004.[9] His third album, Closer, was released in 2006,[14][15] and featured guest appearances from De La Soul, Speech, Bahamadia, Zion I, and others.[15]

He left the Big Dada label in 2007, saying "there's a time when you ... acknowledge that the people either have lost faith in what you're doing or are no longer interested in what you're doing" and experimented with spoken word for a period.[9] He returned in 2010 with the album Special Kind of Fool, released by Barely Breaking Even. The BBC described it as "a mixture of uncompromising rap and populist soulfulness, often playing side-by-side".[16] His final album, A Work of Heart, was released in 2018 on the contemporary jazz label Jazz re:freshed.[17] In 2019, he was joined by Blak Twang and Rodney P to form Kingdem, which The New York Times called a "supergroup of British rap elders".[8]


On 7 May 2020, Chijioke died in hospital, aged 47, due to pneumonia after intensive treatment for COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic in England. He had previously been admitted into a hospital in early April but had been moved out of the intensive care unit on 19 April.[18][19] Several memorials were painted for him in and around Brixton to honour his legacy. [20]




  • Kick, Snare and an Idea (2013)[26]
Collaborative EPs
  • I.A.A.D. (I Am a Don) by Ty & Shortee Blitz (Wayward, 1998)
  • The Kingdem EP by Kingdem (Rodney P, Ty and Blak Twang) (2019)


  • "Oh U Want More?" (2004) – UK No. 65[13]


  1. ^ Savage, Mark (7 May 2020). "UK rapper Ty dies of coronavirus, aged 47". BBC News. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  2. ^ "UK Rapper Ty Dead at 47 From COVID-19 | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. 7 May 2020. Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  3. ^ Reporters, Telegraph (8 May 2020). "Ty dies aged 47: Tributes flow for British rapper who contracted coronavirus". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  4. ^ Johns, Darren (28 February 2001). "TY: Awkward". NME.
  5. ^ Longley, Martin (2010). "Ty – Special Kind of Fool – Review". BBC.
  6. ^ Cowie, Del F. (March 2004). "Ty – Upwards". Exclaim!.
  7. ^ a b c d e Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (7 May 2020). "Ty, Mercury prize-nominated UK rapper, dies aged 47 of coronavirus". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  8. ^ a b Caramanica, Jon (15 May 2020). "Ty, British Rapper Who Bridged Generations and Genres, Dies at 47". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d e Egere-Cooper, Matilda (30 June 2008). "Ty: 'Hip-hop has no culture'". The Independent.
  10. ^ "The West African children brought up by white foster families in the English countryside". Channel 4 News. 18 November 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  11. ^ "Benedict Chijioke aka Ty". Union Blacks.
  12. ^ "Official Independent Albums Chart Top 50: 05 October 2003 - 11 October 2003". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  13. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 572. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  14. ^ "Official Independent Albums Chart Top 50: 05 October 2003 - 11 October 2003". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  15. ^ a b Gieben, Bram (12 November 2006). "Extended Review: Ty – 'Closer'". The Skinny.
  16. ^ Longley, Martin (2010). "Ty Special Kind of Fool Review". BBC. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  17. ^ Maiti, Runak. "Mercury-nominated Ty announces new album, A Work of Heart, out in March on Jazz Re:freshed". Tiny Mixtapes. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  18. ^ "Rapper Ty dies after contracting coronavirus aged 47". The Independent. 7 May 2020. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  19. ^ "UK music scene pays tribute to rapper Ty who has died of coronavirus". NME. 7 May 2020. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  20. ^ Campbell, Joel (20 May 2020). "'I Come From Brixton Baby'". Voice Online. Retrieved 31 December 2022.
  21. ^ "TY : Awkward". NME. 12 September 2005. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  22. ^ "CD: Ty, Upwards". The Guardian. 19 September 2003. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  23. ^ Burgess, John (13 October 2006). "CD: Ty, Closer". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  24. ^ Longley, Martin. "BBC - Music - Review of Ty - Special Kind of Fool". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  25. ^ Derek Robertson (14 May 2018). "Ty's Track By Track Guide to A Work Of Heart". DrownedInSound. Archived from the original on 19 May 2020. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  26. ^ Ra, Shaka (12 April 2013). "Review of Ty's 'Kick, Snare & an Idea' EP Launch". The Blacklist. Retrieved 8 May 2020.

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