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Rap artist Cheek announces retirement

Jare "Cheek" Tiihonen announced on Wednesday that he would be retiring from his career as a recording artist, leaving behind his career as Finland's best-known rapper.

Jare "Cheek" Tiihonen Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

Hip-hop fame may have brought him money, awards, fancy cars and women, but rap artist Cheek has now decided that it is time for a change. In a press conference on Wednesday, Jare Tiihonen said he would be following his inner voice and retiring the artist known as Cheek to try something new.

Tiihonen called a press conference to say that he had been mulling the idea of quitting since 2014, when he took a year-long break after a series of record-setting stadium concerts.

"That one-year break that I took wasn't enough for me. I realised that the only way for me to escape the pressure is to quit the business entirely. This was compounded by my feeling of inadequacy: What can I still give, if I've already reported on the adventures of Cheek over the course of ten albums?"

Critics have noted that Tiihonen's rapid success became a gilded cage of sorts, with loss of privacy and punishing media criticism the flip side of his success.

Top domestic artist

Despite his mega-success in Finland, Cheek never broke through to the international market, and he says that never was his intention. He said on Wednesday that he hopes he will be remembered as a performing artist who had a hand in making rap a popular music genre in Finland.

Cheek is the top streaming artist on Finnish Spotify lists and the number one Finnish artist followed regularly by Finnish YouTube and social media users. His singles, albums and concerts have all broken domestic records, and he has won 11 Emma Music Awards.

Cheek made his announcement on November 15, but his final concert won't take place until August 25 next year, in his hometown of Lahti. This leaves him plenty of time to give more interviews, perform at concerts and promote a new movie about his life before he hangs up his performing persona. He says he might continue to make music through the studio he owns, Liiga Music, but with other artists in the spotlight.

His Wednesday press conference coincided with the release of a new single, Enkelit (Angels). The Games of Thrones-inspired video features Cheek on a horse with a sword in hand.

Will Finland's king of hip hop make a grand return someday?

"When I told my friends that I was getting out, no one believed me. They should know that when I decide something, I do it. I have no intention of coming back. This is a good place to stop. In this way, my story and career stay beautiful."

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