Tula Paulinea "Tulisa" Contostavlos (born 13 July 1988), often known simply as Tulisa, is an English singer-songwriter and actress. She is best known for being a member of the now defunct Camden-based hip hop group N-Dubz, with her cousin Dappy and their friend Fazer formed in 2000 and together releasing three studio albums before announcing their hiatus in 2011. Contostavlos is currently a judge on the The X Factor and mentored the "Groups" category in her first year including Little Mix, the first ever group to win the competition to date. Contostavlos will release her debut solo album in the summer of 2012. On 16 March 2012 during a Twitter row with her cousin and bandmate Dappy Contostavlos announced that N-Dubz had in fact split up and were not taking a break as stated in 2011.
Life and career
Contostavlos was born in Camden Town, North London, to an Irish mother, Anne Byrne (who, with her three sisters, was a member of the 1980s band Jeep) and a Greek Cypriot father, Steve Contostavlos (part of Mungo Jerry). When Tulisa was five, her mother, who has bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Contostavlos' father left the family home when Tulisa was 14 years old. She said that she was brought up in a 3 bedroom house and experienced a lot as a teenager: violence, depression, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, anorexia nervosa, mental health issues, financial difficulties and bullying.
At thirteen she was very emoitional . She revealed that she twice tried to kill herself as a teenager and also used to self-harm to try to help her cope with everything she was going through. With support from her uncle, N-Dubz's former manager, Byron Contostavlos, at age 14 she enrolled at Haverstock Secondary School, later attending Quintin Kynaston School in St John's Wood, but she didn't sit her GCSE examinations.
2000–11: Group formation and N Dubz Split
Dappy and Fazer, who had already started rapping together, decided they wanted a female voice in the group, which was called the Lickle Rinsers Crew at the time, and so invited Contostavlos to be part of the group. They started performing together as a group around Camden from as young as twelve years old. For N-Dubz's second album, she did a solo song called "Comfortable".
On 29 October 2009, Contostavlos co-presented BBC Radio 1Xtra with bandmate Fazer to sit in for DJ Semtex. On 10 January 2010, Tulisa joined Vinesh as a presenter for BBC Switch on Radio 1.
Performing as the Lickle Rinsers Crew, they released the singles "Bad Man Riddim" and "Life Is Getting Sicker by the Day", which became hits on English pirate radio stations.
After Lickle Rinsers Crew, they then became NW1, after the area they hail from, making their first music video in 2005 for the track "Everyday Of My Life", which received airplay on Channel U, recording more demos as NW1 such as "Don't Feel Like Moving", "Girl On Road" and "Livin Broke". Their first single to be released was "You Better Not Waste My Time", which was available for download only until their 2006 self-released single, "I Swear", which gained them their first mainstream notice. It wasn't until 2007's "Feva Las Vegas" (also self-released) that the group appeared on the UK charts, peaking at No. 57. Each member appeared on the second series of Channel 4's Dubplate Drama after they began to get noticed as a group.
After winning a MOBO Award for Best Newcomer, the group signed to Polydor Records and re-released their first single "You Better Not Waste My Time" on the label, which debuted at No. 26 on the UK singles chart. In mid-2007, Dappy released "Love for my Slum" with fellow UK artist Baker Troble. This song was number one on Channel U for many weeks and was a big hit with the UK underground rap scene but was heavily criticised by the media for a scene in which Dappy is stood outside a block of expensive luxury flats with a "rich kid" who is trying to look like a gangster.
The Independent wrote, "His lyrics combine jealousy with anger: 'You got too much to lose / You're in a great position... You wouldn't last a minute where I'm from / You'd go missing / So appreciate what you got / 'cos I'm still wishing.' And then he grabs the rich kid by his coat, pulls him toward him, and punches him in the face. The silent boy falls instantly to the pavement..."; they then went on to put "Do scenes like these suggest that music videos are encouraging their viewers to indulge in criminality?". Dappy appeared on the television show Never Mind the Buzzcocks on 29 November 2007, on Phill Jupitus's team, and wore a trademark "Dappy hat", also giving one to Simon Amstell to wear as part of the gag. Despite vowing he would not return to the show, he appeared for a second time on the guest team on 4 December 2008 and for a third time, on Phill's team, which was broadcast on 18 November 2009.
In May 2008, a song entitled "Ouch" surfaced along with a music video. The video for "Ouch" attracted over 4 million viewers on networking site YouTube in just over a month after release. On 6 August 2008, it was announced that the group had left Polydor Records and had signed to All Around the World records. The label predominantly specializes in dance music; however, they have occasionally released hip hop records such as Ice Cube's You Can Do It. The press release stated that the label would be releasing "Ouch" as the group's first single on the label in September 2008. The group's first album, Uncle B, was released on 17 November 2008. The album includes "You Better Not Waste My Time", "I Swear", "Feva Las Vegas", "Love for My Slums", "Ouch", "Defeat You" and "Papa Can You Hear Me?".
"Strong Again" was touted as the third single to be released from the Uncle B album on 16 February 2009 and a music video was made, before the physical CD released of the song was cancelled for unknown reasons. The song charted for five weeks in the UK Singles Chart, peaking highest at number 24. Group member Dappy was featured in Tinchy Stryder's 2009 No. 1 single tentatively titled "Number 1", the video also featured cameo appearances from all N-Dubz's members. Due to the success of their debut album, the group embarked on their first headlining tour, Uncle B Tour. The tour was originally planned for 16 dates but due to high demand 5 extra dates were added. The tour was supported by Stevie Hoang and Tinchy Stryder with whom N-Dubz collaborated with on his No. 1 single "Number 1". The tour sold out within days. During one performance, Tulisa fainted on stage. Multiple news sources reported that it was due to suspected swine flu.
Jonathan Shalit, the group's manager, stated that Tulisa "was taken ill on the flight out to Greece on Thursday" and that "her bandmates are all very worried about her." The group were due to perform at Radio 1's Big Weekend on 10 May 2009, but their participation was placed in doubt while Tulisa was hospitalised. It was later confirmed that Tulisa had tested negative for swine flu and the group did perform.
The song "Wouldn't You" was then announced to be the seventh, and last, single to be released from the Uncle B debut album. The song was released digitally on 25 May 2009 and peaked at No. 64 in the UK.
Tulisa and Dappy reprised their roles in the third and final series of the Channel 4 show Dubplate Drama. The story for the third series was mainly set around Laurissa's (Tulisa) relationship with her music manager and lead singer of an R&B group while tackling a drug addiction to cocaine. Dubplate Drama finished with Laurissa kicking her addictions and leaving in a taxi for a new life with her child.
N-Dubz appeared with other artists, including Tinchy Stryder and Pixie Lott, to record a charity song for War Child. The Noisettes, Chipmunk, MPHO, Ironik and Kid British also signed up for the project under the name The Young Soul Rebels. The music stars released "I Got Soul", a rewritten version of The Killers' "All These Things That I've Done", to raise money for marginalised children in war zones.
Tulisa admitted she felt privileged to record the charity song. "It's an issue that hasn't been looked at enough. And you know, even until I found out about this event, I didn't really know that much about it, and that's saying something you know. And the fact that I'm only finding out now is not really good enough. So that was every reason for me to get involved." She told BBC Newsbeat.
The group embarked on a Christmas Party Tour beginning on 17 November 2009. They visited 10 cities across the UK performing songs from both albums Uncle B and Against All Odds, as confirmed by their official MySpace page. The tour was originally to be a taster of their new album, but it was announced that the album Against All Odds would be released a day before the tour starts.
The lead single from the group's second album titled "I Need You" was released on 9 November 2009 and charted at No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart. The album Against All Odds, was released on 16 November 2009, and charted at No. 6 in the UK Album Chart. The album went platinum within approximately 2 months of release. The second single, "Playing with Fire" features R&B/pop musician, Mr Hudson. The song reached No. 15 in the UK Charts on album downloads alone; however, when the single was released, it fell to No. 16, reaching a new peak at No. 14 the week after.
The music video for the third single taken from the album, "Say It's Over", was released on 5 March 2010 on Channel AKA. It was announced that the single will be released on 25 April, it reached No. 27 on album downloads alone before the single was released. In late 2009, N-Dubz announced that they will tour their current album, Against All Odds in spring 2010, making it their third tour in two years, starting on 31 March and finishing on 20 April.
It included 17 shows with supporting acts Skepta, Talay Riley and Ultra. On 1 April 2010, they released their first book, N-Dubz – Against All Odds: From Street Life to Chart Life, which they described as "the answer to the critics, there is a lot of bad press about N-Dubz at the moment and this is going to put the record straight about who we really are and what we're about!", saying they want to put "everything out there", and Fazer also adding "It's going to surprise you!". The book also gives access to a secret N-Dubz website.
The group filmed a 6 part documentary, Being... N-Dubz, which premiered on 21 June 2010 on 4Music, and was later renewed for a second series in 2011. After much speculation, it was confirmed that US label Def Jam signed the group. The first release was the album Love.Live.Life, N-Dubz's third studio album. It was released in the UK on 29 November 2010.
The group began recording the album following the success of Against All Odds. Following the success of the group's MOBO Award-winning single "Playing with Fire", the group announced that they would be embarking on a trip to the United States in an attempt to secure a record deal for themselves there.
The group, however, were banned from travelling to the country because of visa issues which were later resolved in early February. Def Jam Recordings boss L.A. Reid, a big N-Dubz fan, then arranged a meeting with the group with the intention of signing the trio to his label. In May 2010, it was announced that the group had secured a five-album recording deal with Def Jam, and that they would be flying to Los Angeles to record their third studio album with American producers Dr. Luke and Jim Jonsin. The group recorded the album with American producers Salaam Remi, Jean Baptiste Kouame and Jim Jonsin on the album who are well known for their work with the likes of Amy Winehouse, The Black Eyed Peas and Beyoncé Knowles.
The producers recording with the album had issues with the group's British slang on the tracks and as a result the group changed their vocabulary but put their creative foot down and in the end lost none of their roots on the album. Words like "Blood" and "You get me?" were removed from the final edit of the album, but the group's trademark phrase "Na, na, niii" remained as the group did not want to lose the respect they had earned from their British fans. The making of the album was released on DVD.
"We Dance On" was released on May 20, 2010, as the album's lead single. It peaked at #5 on the UK Singles Chart. The song was also included on the soundtrack to the film Streetdance 3D. "Best Behaviour" was released on October 17, 2010 as the second single from the album. It peaked at 10 in both the UK and Scotland, and became a top 40 hit in Ireland. The song also appears on Skepta's album Doin' It Again. "Girls" was released as the album's third single on December 12, 2010. It peaked at 19 on the UK Singles Chart. A fourth track from the album, "So Alive" was released as single on February 6, 2011.
Five singles were released from Love.Live.Life. The first, "We Dance On", had previously been released in May 2010 from the StreetDance soundtrack. On 1 September 2010, N-Dubz announced via Facebook that their first new single from the album would be "Best Behaviour", which was eventually released on 17 October. The music video premiered on Channel AKA and Clubland TV on 8 September and was uploaded on YouTube by AATW Records later that day.
The final three singles from Love. Life. Live were "Girls", "So Alive" and "Morning Star". Love. Life. Live became N-Dubz' third platinum selling album. On 16 March 2012 during a Twitter row with her cousin and bandmate Dappy Contostavlos announced that N-Dubz had infact split up and where not taking a break as stated in 2011.
2011–present: The X Factor and Debut solo album
In August 2011, it emerged that N-Dubz had parted company with record label Def Jam, stating that they were "Never going to co-operate with them when they decided to change what we are". With Tulisa taking up a role as a judge on eighth series of The X Factor and Dappy releasing his solo single "No Regrets", N-Dubz' gig on 18 September 2011 was described as "their final gig for the foreseeable future".
On 30 May 2011, tulisa was confirmed as a judge for the eighth series of The X Factor, alongside Louis Walsh, Kelly Rowland and Gary Barlow. The first public auditions began on 23rd June 2011, with the new judging panel being sighted together for the first time. Contostavlos mentored the Groups category and mentored 2 Shoes, Nu Vibe, The Risk, and Rhythmix (later renamed Little Mix) during the live shows. After three out of four of her acts were eliminated in the first five weeks of the competition, Constostavlos was left with Little Mix. The group then went on to become the most successful girl band in The X Factor history, having avoided the final showdown every week and winning the show in the process, making them the first group to do so in the show's eight year history.
In 2011, Tulisa comfirmed that she had started work on a solo album that would be released on May 7, 2012. Tulisa has also recently confirmed by twitter that the first single to be released from the album is entitled 'Young', the promo video for 'Young' was filmed on 2nd March in Miami, this song has been produced by Richard 'Fazer' Rawson and written by Peter Ibsen, Ali Tennant and Fazer.
Contostavlos played the role of Laurissa (a cocaine addict who is in R&B group The Fam) in the TV series Dubplate Drama. She will play herself in the upcoming film, Bulla, and is to make her big screen debut in Arjun Rose slasher Demons Never Die.
Contostavlos was named at number 15 in FHM's '100 Sexiest Women in the World list' in the May 2010 issue.
Starting in 2008 and lasting for around 18 months, Contostavlos dated a South London based DJ/rapper, whom she helped in developing his career. In early 2012, a video of an intimate moment between the couple during the period of their relationship appeared on the internet. Unable to legally block the tape worldwide, Contostavlos recorded a video response in which she clarified the relationship, and stated that she was both heartbroken and devastated by its release by her ex-boyfriend.
Contostavlos was in an on/off relationship with DJ Adam Bailey, to whom she was reportedly engaged in early 2009. Bailey was accused of grievous bodily harm against her and she gave evidence in his trial. In December 2009, Bailey was cleared of involvement in the attack.
In 2010, Contostavlos was on a BBC programme called Tulisa: My Mum And Me describing her life before N-Dubz looking after her mother. She was in a relationship with N-Dubz band-mate Fazer from May 2010 but the relationship ended after an argument on holiday in early February 2012.