Timothy Lee McKenzie (born 4 January 1989), better known by his stage name Labrinth, is an English recording artist, songwriter, record producer, multi-instrumentalist, and rapper. Initially, he was tipped to work as a producer, but Simon Cowell signed him to his record label Syco Music as a solo act. In the process, Labrinth became Cowell's first non-talent show signing in six years.
Labrinth made his debut appearance on the UK Singles Chart in March 2010, when his collaboration with English rapper Tinie Tempah, "Pass Out", reached number one. McKenzie has collaborated with Tinie Tempah on numerous occasions since. Labrinth's first solo single, "Let the Sun Shine" was released in September 2010, reaching number three in the same chart. His debut album Electronic Earth, was released on 31 March 2012, having been preceded by the singles "Earthquake", featuring Tinie Tempah and "Last Time", which peaked at number two and number four respectively. He achieved his first number-one single in November 2012 with "Beneath Your Beautiful", featuring Emeli Sandé.
Life and career
1989–2010: Early life and career beginnings
McKenzie was born and raised in Hackney, London. He is of Kittitian/Nevisian descent. He comes from a musical family consisting of nine siblings, and grew up at home surrounded almost exclusively by the sound of American gospel music. When they were younger, he and his eight siblings formed a band called Mac 9. He attended Stoke Newington School and began to pursue a musical career throughout his school years. His brother, Mac (who additionally goes by the name mac1), is a producer, and introduced McKenzie to the art of creating music in his studio at the age of 15. Labrinth initially started his career by producing the track "Dead End" for recording artist Master Shortie from the album A.D.H.D. (2009). The track generated interest in McKenzie as a producer and songwriter, entailing Guy Moot of EMI Music Publishing to offer the artist a publishing deal.
From 2010 to 2011, Labrinth mentored the Urban Development Vocal Collective (UDVC) alongside his sister, ShezAr. He additionally produced multiple tracks for the collective, contributing towards a 9-track project titled Urban Development. The vocalists additionally provided backing vocals for Labrinth's original tracks. Other artists to collaborate with the collective include Wretch 32, Chip, Maverick Sabre and Devlin.
On 28 February 2010, McKenzie appeared as an uncredited guest artist on British rapper Tinie Tempah's debut single, "Pass Out" – having additionally produced and co-written the track. The single debuted at number-one on the UK Singles Chart, number seventy in Australia and number six on the Irish Singles Chart. Having spent two weeks at the summit in the United Kingdom, "Pass Out" was awarded Best British Single at the 2011 BRIT Awards and Best Contemporary Song at the 2011 Ivor Novello Awards, additionally achieving platinum certification from the British Phonographic Industry for surpassing sales of 600,000 copies. Several months later saw the two artists collaborate for a second time with the release of Tempah's second single, "Frisky" – again co-written and produced by McKenzie. The single debuted at number-two in the United Kingdom, beaten only by the charity single "Shout" featuring Dizzee Rascal and James Corden. The track saw chart success in Scotland, where it became the duo's second consecutive number-one single, additionally peaking at number three in Ireland.
Throughout 2010, McKenzie continued writing material for a number of high-profile artists, including Professor Green for the track "Oh My God" (Alive Till I'm Dead), Ola Svensson for the track "Let It Hit You" (Ola) and Loick Essien for "Love Drunk" (Identity).
2010–12: Signing to Syco and Electronic Earth
Following chart success as a writer and producer, Labrinth was approached in June 2010 and signed to Simon Cowell's record label, Syco. The signing marked a milestone for the label, with McKenzie fitting the first signing in six years to haven't arisen from one of Cowell's reality shows. Through Syco, Labrinth released his debut single "Let the Sun Shine" on 27 September 2010 in the United Kingdom. The track debuted at number three in the UK, additionally reaching number 32 in Ireland. 3 January 2011 saw the artist appear as a featured artist for a third time, credited to British rapper Devlin's single "Let It Go" – which saw limited chart success, peaking at number 59 in the UK. And a remake of Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band's "Express Yourself".
Whilst beginning work on his debut studio album in early 2011, Labrinth assisted several artists as a producer, including: Yasmin and the single "Finish Line" and Ms. Dynamite and her comeback single "Neva Soft". It was revealed in September 2011 that Labrinth was to seem on the Children in Need 2011 charity single, "Teardrop", a cover of the Massive Attack song by the same name. Under the name 'The Collective', Labrinth appeared as one of a large number of artists assembled by Take That member Gary Barlow, which included Chipmunk, Wretch 32, Mz. Bratt, Dot Rotten, Rizzle Kicks, Ed Sheeran, Ms. Dynamite and Tulisa Contostavlos. The single, which was performed both at Children in Need 2011 and Children in Need Rocks Manchester on 17 November 2011 debuted at number twenty-four on the UK Singles Chart.
Labrinth released his second single, "Earthquake" on 23 October 2011 – featuring long-term collaborator Tinie Tempah. The single debuted at number two on the UK chart with first week sales of 115,530 copies – the second highest selling number-two behind X Factor winners Little Mix and their cover of Damien Rice's "Cannonball". The track additionally saw international chart success, peaking at number twelve in Ireland, number five in New Zealand and number twenty-one in Australia; achieving gold certification from the Australian Recording Industry Association and platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. In December 2011, Labrinth confirmed the release date of his debut studio album, Electronic Earth, which having originally been 12 March 2012 was pushed back until 2 April 2012. The album was preceded by a third single, "Last Time", which was released on 18 March 2012 as a four-track digital EP alongside remixes from Knife Party and Gareth Emery.
On 23 May 2012, Labrinth performed at the Cheltenham racecourse to celebrate the occasion of the Olympic torch coming through Cheltenham. Labrinth performed at the University of Leeds' Summer Ball on 2 June 2012, supported by R&B act Angel, and Nottingham Trent University Graduation Ball on 9 June, at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham. On 15 June, Labrinth performed at the University of Surrey End of Year Show. The event was held at Rubix, the University of Surrey's quite own club. Yasmin, was his support act on the evening. On 29 June, Labrinth performed at VG-lista top 20 in Norway in front of a crowd consisting of 90,000 people. Labrinth additionally performed at GFest in Preston on 8 September 2012 to celebrate Preston Guild 2012. The song "Beneath Your Beautiful", which features Emeli Sandé was released as the album's sixth single and peaked at No 1 in November 2012.
2013–present: Take Me to the Truth
Labrinth is currently working on his second studio album, Take Me to the Truth. He has written with Ed Sheeran for the album. He has additionally been in the studio throughout November 2013 recording album content, and will soon be revealing a few new material. He additionally appeared on two tracks for Tinie Tempah's second studio album Demonstration: the third single "Lover Not a Fighter" and the album track "It's OK".
In 2016, Labrinth worked alongside Mike Posner on Posner's widely successful album At Night, Alone. Labrinth is featured and co-wrote on the sixth single, "Silence". The album was officially released on May 6, 2016. "Silence" was written by both Posner and Labrinth. The song was produced by Posner and Terefe.