In his native United Kingdom, rapper Dappy ( @thedappy) has attracted as many negative headlines as positive ones. A regular fixture in British tabloid newspapers, the outspoken artist, a founding member of Island Records pop group N-Dubz, is no stranger to controversy, with a previous conviction for assault the most serious of his run-ins with the police.
Now the 24-year-old (real name: Costadinos Contostavlos) is making waves for all the right reasons, with his latest solo single, "Rockstar" (All Around the World/Island), debuting at No. 2 on the U.K. singles chart. The stirring hip-hop-flavored track, which features a memorable guest appearance from Queen guitarist Brian May and contains the catchy chorus hook "I'm living like a rockstar," sold 57,000 units in its first week, according to the Official Charts Co. It was beaten to the top spot by Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" (also on Island), which sold 87,000 copies, according to the OCC.
"Rockstar" is Dappy's third solo single. Previous releases "Spaceship," a collaboration with fellow Brit rapper Tinchy Stryder, and "No Regrets" hit Nos. 5 and 1 on the U.K. chart, respectively. N-Dubz' third studio album, Love.Live.Life (All Around the World/Island), arrived in 2010, peaking at No. 7 in the United Kingdom. The group, which includes Tula "Tulisa" Contostavlos (Dappy's cousin) and Richard "Fazer" Rawson, has sold more than 1 million records, according to Island. It signed to Def Jam in the United States, but left the label last year without releasing an album, with Def Jam citing creative differences. A few months later, the members of N-Dubz announced they were taking a two-year hiatus to pursue solo careers. With Dappy getting the jump on his bandmates, Island is eyeing a summer release for the rapper's still-untitled studio debut.
"N-Dubz blazed the trail for urban pop in the U.K.," Island marketing manager Tom March says. "As Dappy steps out on his own with a more mature record, that will hopefully be enough to appeal to N-Dubz fans as well as find him lots of new ones." March credits strong radio support from national top 40 stations BBC Radio 1 and Capital FM with driving download sales. Following the track's U.K. success, "Rockstar" will now be serviced to other international territories, while live dates are planned for later this year, booked by William Morris Endeavor.
"I don't think Dappy gets the credit for quite how talented he is. Lyrically, there's not really anyone else out there to touch him" says March, who predicts the Sony/ATV-published artist will break in multiple markets. "The guy is a superstar. He has everything you need to explode internationally."