Top Brit-hop rapper Professor Green seems to have found that elusive formula for chart success with his smart rhymes traversing the fine line between grime and mainstream glory.
Ahead of his Reading show, The Guide spoke to the guy who has been hailed as the UK's answer to Eminem to find out more about the man behind the music.
Drifting into rap after taking part in a freestyle battle at a house party, the Professor shot to fame in 2010 with singles I Need You Tonight and Just Be Good To Green, featuring Lily Allen - securing his spot at the top of the UK rap game.
Professor Green (real name Stephen Manderson), who came close to death in 2009 after being stabbed in the neck at a nightclub, said: "The first year was crazy. I'd supported so many people and worked with other artists so I'd seen it from a third person perspective, but when you go through it nothing prepares you."
Fans can grab a taste of the action when he plays Reading's Rivermead Leisure Centre on Wednesday, with electro/hip-hop duo Chiddy Bang in support. So what can audiences expect from a Pro' Green show? "We're very much a band and I want people to enjoy that. There is a lot of live instrumental stuff in my music anyway and people who have a preconception of what rap music is like will be surprised.
"We're very much a band and I want people to enjoy that. We had Rizzle Kicks on the last tour and DJ Cut + Paste on this tour. It's really important that people enjoy the whole experience and not just my performance. There are so many different moods in my songs that I try to take people on a bit of a journey."
He added: "Oh My God gets a good reaction, people just go nuts, and Astronaut completely changes the mood of the set. Read All About It has a massive response. All of the old hits do. I Need You Tonight got quite hard to perform for a while, but we changed it up a bit and I am enjoying performing it again now."
Read All About it, featuring star songstress Emeli Sande, topped the charts following the release of his second album At Your Inconvenience. The track details the harsh reality of life after his dad died in 2008, and he explained: "It's weird because every time I sing it I don't feel like I'm just telling the story, I feel what I felt when I actually went through it, but it's quite a triumphant feeling as well."
And of the music that has taken him from a drug-dealing past to a chart-topping future, the Hackney-born rapper added: "It is quite selfish as it's quite cathartic. I'm not one to preach to people, or try and ram my story down their throats - I just talk from my perspective and weirdly I think people relate to that more."
The offshoot of listening to "loads of different stuff" while growing up has led to eclectic albums that slam from electro-ballads to darker beats, and this winning outlet has evolved from a lifetime of musical experience - including a trip to Reading Festival. "I listened to jungle from a really early age. Growing up in Hackney I had a lot of Caribbean influences and listened to a lot of reggae and ragga. I used to skate and got into stuff like Nirvana, NOFX and Blink 182 and then later I got into Oasis and Blur etc. I don't jump into any genres as a whole, I listen to everything."
He added: "Reading Festival was the first festival I went to, I was backstage causing absolute chaos. I reckon I would have a good time to there. Reading's quite rock but it would be fun to do it."
Forthcoming single, slick dance track, Remedy, comes out next month and at the time of the interview, filming had just rapped on the video. "Videos are long. They are horrible, they are grueling... I was outside for hours with only Tequila for company! We practically just had a house party, though - It's a good time song. There are a lot of introspective songs on the record, but this is upbeat," he said.
But despite being busy with recording and touring, Pro' Green has also made time for the ladies, and is currently dating Millie Mackintosh from 'scripted reality' TV programme Made In Chelsea. The day before our interview, the Prof' made his fleeting cameo in the show, but revealed those hoping to see more from the pair are going to be disappointed: "That's the one and only! Millie, bless her, it wasn't easy for her. The last series was all about her relationship and, from what she's told me, she was getting a lot of stress from it.
"I don't want that aspect of my life filmed, it's private, and she doesn't want to film that aspect of her life again either. We don't want to make it public as it's ours and we want to keep it ours. We're in the spotlight enough at the moment, we can't go out without getting snapped, but it was something we felt we needed to do to relieve some of the pressure around the situation."
The Professor is currently writing for his third album and he told us: "The first [album] is very different to the second - I don't believe in doing a part two album. I'm not trying to rip people off. The third is me taking the bits I liked of the second and building on that. Essentially just starting again. It should be an album as it stands on its own."
And of his upcoming slot on the Stone Roses comeback gig and future projects, he told us: "The Stone Roses gig is going to be hard to do as I know a lot of people will be wondering what I'm doing there, but Ian Brown asked me personally to do it, so they can all just **** off to be honest!"
"I've been talking a little bit about a clothing range, something with Puma as I'm endorsed by them. I liked doing the TV programme last year, The Next 48 Hours With Professor Green, which was really successful. We had a lot of fun doing that so maybe something like that again but really just the music - I'm all about music."
Tickets to the Rivermead show are £18.50 from www.readingarts.com or call 0118 960 6060.