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Lesson in luck from hip-hop professor

Stephen Paul Manderson slaps himself across the head. "F***, I'm getting old!" says the 27-year-old rapper, better known to his fans as Professor Green. "There's been a shift, man. You're walking round a department store and you're like 'oh, that table would look nice in my kitchen ... You're meant to like women!'" he says (to himself). "'And cars! Sort it out!'"

Indeed, the man sitting in front of me is not at all what I had expected. But then, hip-hop is full of surprises, innit? And it would seem that the affable Londoner is quite the gentleman; and not nearly as crude as his records would have you believe. A little tired, perhaps, from promoting second album At Your Inconvenience, but that's what happens when you're in demand. When we meet, he is still reeling from performing live on The X Factor and Later ... with Jools Holland in the same week. Oh, and his new single has just gone to number one. Not bad for a guy who used to sell weed.

Certainly, Manderson has done very well for himself in the past two years, joining forces with Lily Allen for a hit single, selling half a million copies of debut album Alive Till I'm Dead in the process. That's a long way from the underground freestyle battle scene.

"I think in England, we're kind of in that golden era of hip hop where people are really finding their own voice," he enthuses.


Indeed, the chap's personal life is a story in itself. A tattoo on his neck spells out the word 'lucky'. Right next to a huge scar after an attack with a broken bottle in 2009. Ironically, the tattoo came first. In 2008, Manderson's father, whom he barely knew, committed suicide. He isn't afraid to get personal. Just so long as people don't take it the wrong way.

"There's only ever been one thing that irked me, and that was what my dad's widow said about me trying to cash in on his death," he explains. "It's just incredibly insensitive and it just shows her to be who she is -- just not a very nice person."

On being a public figure, he says: "It is what it is. I kind of take it with a pinch of salt. As long as the people around me know who I am, and I know who I am -- and I don't forget that -- I'm content."

>Chris Wasser

At Your Inconvenience is out now