- Tinie Tempah has launched a virtual restaurant brand, RAPS, selling wraps and fried chicken.
- The food is made in ghost kitchens, which cook food for delivery and often house multiple brands.
- Musicians including BTS, Travis Scott, and Justin Bieber have all teamed up with restaurant brands.
Rapper Tinie Tempah has launched a virtual restaurant brand selling wraps and fried chicken that are prepared out of a series of ghost kitchens.
“I’ve always liked the idea of people saying: ‘Oh, Tinie, your raps are delicious,'” Tempah told Insider while laughing.
The brand, RAPS, features some Nigerian-inspired dishes and launched on Deliveroo in March. It’s also operating a four-month popup at a rooftop bar on London’s Oxford Street.
During the pandemic, the music industry reached a standstill and tours were postponed. Tempah said that he’d had a lot of spare time and wanted to stay busy.
So when Jonny Boud, co-founder of London-based ghost-kitchen company Kitchen Ventures, suggested making a brand together, Tempah jumped at the opportunity.
Virtual brands, which don’t have dining rooms and instead make food for delivery and collection only, have boomed in popularity during the pandemic as more people order takeout. They’re prepared in ghost kitchens, which have much lower rent and overheads than full-service restaurants. Kitchen Ventures operates its own kitchens, and many are home to multiple brands being prepared by the same staff.
Tempah said a lot of his friends were restauranteurs. He already understood the basics of ghost kitchens and had noticed that a lot of takeaways he ate were made at them, but had never visited one before.
Tempah said he was “very hands-on” in RAPS’ development, spending around a year visiting restaurants and kitchens, choosing ingredients, and working with chef Big Has.
“For me, it was very important to see what everyone else thought as well. Similarly to how I would make a track and play it to everyone and get their feedback,” he said.
He initially designed the brand with music studio staff in mind. Tempah described himself as a “studio hobbit” and said he ordered a lot of food online while he was working there.
“I just thought it’d be good to get something that was fun, had a nod to kind of Black culture, our hip-hop culture, even a little bit of a nod to African culture as well, by the way of some of the flavors in the food, but that was also relatively healthy as well,” he said.
Tempah said that being Nigerian, “food is a big part of our culture … We’re huge foodies.” He said that Peckham, the area of London where he grew up, had “Nigerian restaurants on every other corner.”
Growing up, the main instances of success he saw among Nigerian immigrants were people setting up “a little business of their own,” Tempah said. These were often restaurants, he added.
Restaurants are increasingly partnering with celebrities – either to develop their own brand, like Kitchen Ventures is with Tempah, or to release promotional deals and menu items, like McDonald’s with BTS and Travis Scott and Tim Hortons with Justin Bieber.
By collaborating with celebrities, Kitchen Ventures gets a “readymade audience overnight” with press coverage and social-media posts, Boud said. Tempah thinks that the majority of RAPS’ customers are driven by his endorsement, though he acknowledged that he doesn’t have a set schedule for posting about the brand on his social media.
Boud said that he and Tempah shared both profits and ownership of RAPS’ intellectual property.
“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset,” Tempah said, adding that he was inspired by other musicians including Jay-Z and Kanye West, who have both created business legacies.
He said he wanted to scale RAPS up in the future. “If you create a strong brand, it can be applied to anything and everything.”
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