Hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks get a kick out of touring

JORDAN 'Rizzle' ­Stephens is ­running around his ­London flat in his boxer shorts while a taxi waits for him.

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Rizzle Kicks are looking forward to their tour
Rizzle Kicks are looking forward to their tour

"You'll have to excuse me," says one half of the hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks, searching for a T-shirt. "I can do two things at once though."

The car is waiting to take him to a meeting with Beats By Dre headphones, a firm they're "collaborating" with.

You couldn't blame the company for wanting to be involved with the duo. They are about to play their biggest-ever tour which visits 21 cities and towns in the UK. The fact hasn't gone unnoticed by a now fully clothed Stephens.

"We've done really well to sell the tour as quickly as we have," says the 22-year-old. "We've sold well all over the country, and I think there's been a wave of difficulty and decline for some artists in the past year. People aren't buying tickets as much as they used to. So we're really excited and pleased."

To mark the achievement, they've added a saxophone player and DJ to their live band and the stage design will be more elaborate than the "boring ramp" they had last time.

"There'll be more colour in the backgrounds, platforms, loads of stuff," he continues. "We need to make it more of a show at every step. There are going to be a lot of fans who've seen us before and we don't want to make it the same."

To prepare for the tour, the live band, with Stephens's dad Herman on bass, rehearsed for a couple of weeks before Jordan and his much quieter bandmate Harley Alexander-Sule joined them. "They find it easier to begin with if we're not there, then we go in and add our bit," says Stephens.

Their "bit" involves a lot of rapping and, in Harley's case, singing too. The duo formed properly when the pair, already friends from school in Brighton, attended the Brit school in London, an establishment that boasts Adele, Jessie J and Amy Winehouse as former students.

Stephens began putting his own versions of his favourite songs on YouTube and asked his friend, who was studying to be an actor, to sing on them too.

"It's mad to think how I was fully prepared to go to drama school while Jordan was doing his solo rapping," says ­Alexander-Sule, also 22, looking back. "We started doing stuff together, but when college finished, I was always just going to study acting. Jordan persuaded me to give it a year, and then if nothing happened with the music, I'd go back to drama school. I thought 'Why not?'

"Within two months we'd been signed and six months later we'd had a hit single."

The pair signed to Island Records and got to work on their debut album, Stereo Typical, with a little help from, among others, Norman 'Fatboy Slim' Cook. That debut in 2011, spawned six singles, including Mama Do The Hump and Down With The Trumpets, and sold 300,000 copies.

When it came time to record their second album, last year's Roaring 20s, they again teamed up with Fatboy Slim.

"It's amazing to have a strong connection with that kind of guy," continues Alexander-Sule. "When we made our first record, he hadn't made any music for 10 years, so he was worried he couldn't do it, and wondered why we wanted to work with him. We said 'Err, because you're Fatboy Slim!'"

Jamie Cullum also got involved with the second album, as did The Wire actor Dominic West, who features on Two Thumbs Up. Ant Whiting also returned, the songwriter and producer who masterminded the duo's first album and has also worked with a raft of pop stars from MIA to Pixie Lott.

Rizzle Kicks's charm comes from their personality as a duo. They're like PJ and Duncan if they'd been raised on ­PlayStation games, MTV Base and Nineties hip-hop, rather than the goings on at a fictional youth club in Newcastle.

It would be easy to imagine them following Ant and Dec's career path, in fact, although Stephens isn't quite so sure.

"This will probably be a nail in our coffin, but I think presenting is a bit easy," he says. "I hear the term '­presenter' used as an insult towards us, too. Maybe it's just hip-hop purists who don't like us, but they'll say things like, 'What are you two, presenters or something?'

"I think it's so funny, as if they're making fun of me because I'm confident and I can speak fluently."

Both members of Rizzle Kicks have other projects they're working on independently; Stephens a screenplay, while Alexander-Sule has some acting roles. There's also a long-mooted sitcom written by the pair based on their time living together in a flat in London.

Touring, for now, remains their sole focus, and they can't wait to get back on the road.

"You're in this little bubble where the same thing happens every day, except you're in a different place each day. That's a unique experience when you think about it," says Stephens.

"I wake up when someone tells me to, they then tell me where I can eat and what I can eat, and I either do as they say, watch a film or sleep on.

"The evening comes, we go on stage, loads of people are happy and then we're on a tour bus with our friends, ready to do the same thing all again the next day. How is that not amazing?"

l Rizzle Kicks play Glasgow's O2 Academy tonight.

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