Music

Hip Hop Raised Me

Hip Hop Raised Me

The last time I saw DJ Semtex was 2 years ago, whenever I pass through London, he is one of the few people that I HAVE to make time to see. Our friendship goes way back to the days when we were both hustling in the music industry.

When Sem first came to London from Manchester in the 90s,  he set the music industry alight. Here was a dude, from Manchester, who came down to London and caught the industry napping. He reached out to me when he was running the street team at  Sony Music. I was running a pirate station in South London and our friendship began immediately, as they say “real recognize real” The first time I ever walked into a major record label, Semtex held the door open. This was in an era when the people inside labels spent most of the time keeping that door closed.

He was the first record label guy to really “fuck with the street” – Most labels paid lip service to the underground DJs and stations, Semtex was way different. He secured us interviews with Lauryn Hill, Jay Z, Kanye West, Ludacris, Destiny’s Child, Wyclef to name just a few – anyone who was cutting, he made sure that we had access. Something that no one truly had done before. Semtex brought Ludacris to an abandoned council flat in Brixton where we were broadcasting from, that’s how real he kept it. I remember sitting in a hotel room with Wyclef talking about dub plates. All made possible by Sem.

I was able to play at parties for Lauryn Hill, Ja Rule (legendary chain stealing and chase down Oxford Street kinda night) and was able to find that focus and have the access that made me and my station stand out. Fast forward, here I am in Kenya and he’s still one of the first people I would talk to before moving on any music project.

Beyond all that though, Sem is a DJ, one of us. Someone who actually loves the music as much as we do. For him it wasn’t about the industry smoozing and expense accounts (though he always paid at Nandos) it was about the music. I remember him calling me one night 2 weeks before Jay Z dropped the Blueprint. I was living in South London at the time he was living in North London – he was was like “I got the Jay Z album, you need to hear it” – I got into my VW Golf at midnight and drove across the city and we sat in the car and listened to the album. This was the first time I ever heard “Takeover” We sat there in silence – “I don’t think Nas can ever come back from that” one of us said (I won’t say who said that).

The point I’m making is that this guy, this DJ is someone whom I look up to. He’s someone who has always made sure that the street has what it needs and even as he elevated, he has always made sure that he never forgets the important things. Things like work ethic, not getting stuck in histrionics and being open to new music, new artists and new ways of making music.

If I sound like a fan, it’s because for the last 20 years Semtex has exemplified excellence in all he has done and very few people can say that. His label years have been fruitful, his DJ careeer has been crazy, his Digital footprint is huge and his radio and podcasts are some of the most listened radio products in the U.K.  Outside of this he has managed to raise an amazing family which in itself is no mean feat, trust me I know.

Semtex said to me via tweet last week that this book is about every conversation we have ever had. If that’s the case, I cannot wait to read it.

Hip Hop Raised me is out on October 6th. You can pre order it now on Amazon.

Jedi Master T

October 3rd, 2016

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