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WAX LYRICAL: JAZZIE B

Jazzie's early days

Starting out as a 13-year-old in London with a reggae soundsystem called Jah Rico in 1987, Jazzie B, presented with an OBE in 2008, celebrates his 25th year in the industry next year, but not before he brings the Soul II Soul live show to SW4 on Saturday 25th August.

He'll use the gig, and the famed soundsystem's many other festival appearances throughout the summer, to road-test new material — “getting a live response,” he tells DJ Mag — as well as, of course, busting out the classics in lieu of the quarter century commemoration next year. On the new stuff, however, Jazzie is unwilling to put a name, still sticking with the motto that goes with the cartoon face logo penned on Funki Dred garments since back in the day.“A happy face, a thumpin' bass, for a lovin' race,” he grins.
“Come check the live stuff for yourselves to see what's gwan,” he adds. We will. An album eventually? “Possibly, yeah. That sounds good.”

Since relaunching the fashion range at Harvey Nichols in April, he recently wound down a pop-up shop in the image of his Camden shop that ran in the late '80s, but the range lives on. “That is never going away,” he adds. Much like the legacy of the music. Iconic hits such as 'Back To Life', 'Keep On Moving' and 'Fair Play' live on, interwoven into the heritage of a city and a nation.

The amalgamation of dance music high-points — hip-hop, funk and soul — that make up a definitive sound in their own right, still as fresh as a daisy, almost 25 years on...

First-ever rave experience?

“Pass... that's a weird question to ask to someone who was involved with the inception of the whole culture. In my day it wasn't called rave, not in the sense you kids call it now. My first party? I was eight-years-old. Putting the needle on the record at one of my brother's functions, which would have been in the '70s.”

The most crucial record of all-time?

“'Back To Life'. Sorry, 'Keep On Moving'.”

Three tunes that never leave your bag...

“My specials. Dubplates.”

Lights up end-of-the-night tune?

“Ray Charles 'Hit the Road'.”

If you could meet anyone — alive or dead — who would it be?

“Met them all. Except for Bob Marley. I produced James Brown's album. I did the Teena Marie album. Worked with Fela Kuti. I worked with Isaac Hayes.”

Imagine the world is going to end tomorrow. What are you gonna do tonight?

“Hug up my family.”

Three words you'd use to describe clubbing in Y3K?

“Electronic. Wireless. Interesting.”

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