up close and personal with hip hop’s newest cool kid.

by liza darwin

When Theophilus London wants something, he goes after it. The Brooklyn-bred rapper first starting spewing beats as as teenager "because he didn't know what else he wanted to do." Soon after that, he enlisted new friends like TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, Glasser, and Tegan and Sara's Sara Quinn for cameos on his EP, Lovers Holiday. Fresh off the success of this February release, which was a charismatic mashup of hip hop beats, pop melodies, and sing-a-long lyrics, London is back in action this summer with a full-length record. We talked with the musician about his new album, getting recognized in airports, and his secret to being so damn popular.

You're a super busy guy. So where in the world is Theophilus London right now? I just got back to New York. I flew in from Cannes, France, for the film festival, which was awesome. It was crazy, though, because people are starting to recognize me in the airport and I'm not used to that yet.

And now your new album is about to come out! How would you describe Timez Are Weird These Days? I've wanted to make a record about this current moment, about what's going on today- times are weird. I feel like there's so much about this time and it's so current, and I wanted to capture the moment in just 10 songs. It's a new idea of how to put music together, blending pop music and hip hop and working with really great writers.

From Mark Ronson to Solange Knowles, you have a ton of friends in the music industry. What's your secret to being so well-connected? You can add Kanye to the list now [laughing]. I just got an email from him, I was like, "This is too weird!" I'm just a nice guy; there's no real science to it. If you have a good spirit you meet other good spirits. So much of it is just about making good music together.

If you could perform with anyone, who would it be? I want a collaboration with Pharrell because he's one of my idols. I'd love for Kanye to do a work in one of my songs.

How do you decide what to wear on stage? I like to mix up high end and low end. I just decide what I'm going to wear that night based on what I'm feeling. In terms of designers, I really like Lanvin. I'm also into costumes. My next tour is going to be a costume tour with sequined jackets, sequined hats, awesome socks- the whole deal.

Stream the new single "Last Name London" below and watch out for Timez Are Weird These Days, dropping July 19.