As the "voice of young Tottenham" he saw his neighbourhood torn up in the riots. But despite hitting No 1 in the British singles charts, Wretch 32 is determined not to abandon the Tiverton Estate where he grew up.
The 26-year-old rapper, born Jermaine Scott, was at school with Mark Duggan, the man whose fatal shooting by police sparked the protest that preceded the recent riots.
The son of a reggae DJ father who took part in the 1985 Broadwater Farm disturbances, Wretch 32's debut album, Black And White, out this week, does not shy away from the teenage criminality he fell prey to on the tough Tiverton Estate. But his music rejects "gangsta" clichés and another song on the album details his struggles to be a good father. "Don't Go", his third single, has gone straight to the top of the charts.
The father of a five-year-old boy, Wretch (taken from his childhood nickname) is scornful of the likes of the historian David Starkey, who blamed rap music for spreading a violent, "take what you can get" culture.
"I don't know what rap music they're listening to," Wretch told The Independent. "I really put my heart on the page. I'm about keeping it honest. It's my life and upbringing, the good and the bad."
Wretch doesn't want to leave the Tiverton Estate, where he and his four sisters were brought up by their mother after their father left home. "A lot of people see the negative in Tottenham but kids there see me as a positive," he says. "Not moving gives me the benefit of keeping my music real."
He is optimistic about the Tiverton's future. "It's hard to imagine that nothing good is ever going to happen in Tottenham. I'm at No 1 and Chipmunk [a grime MC] got to No 2. The positives will outweigh the negative."Reuse content