DJ MK INTERVIEW

DJ MK is one of the UK’s leading Hip Hop DJ’s. He has been a favourite on the club scene for the last 10 years, displaying his turntable dexterity up and down the UK and throughout Europe, Australia and the United States.

He was the first UK DJ to release regular, well-packaged Hip Hop mixtapes at a time when no other DJ was doing so. These mix apes earned him his props and a slot on the Capital Radio’s Rap show with Tim Westwood from ’93–’95.

MK continues to tour the world DJing for Roots Manuva and Dizzee Rascal and is a member of the powerhouse DJ crew Extended Players, alongside Shortee Blitz, Mr Thing and Harry Love. He also promotes a night called ‘Gullyver’ at Plastic People with Acyde (TMI), one of London’s hottest monthly Hip Hop nights.

Where did it all start for DJ MK?
I got into Hip Hop, by hearing certain records that would chart such as “Buffalo Girls” Doug E Fresh’s “The Show”, Chaka Khan “I Feel For You” etc. At that time it was something new and with scratching I had never seen that before in my life and that amazed me.

Describe growing up in London during the 80’s with the political and social landscape at the time. It really seemed like it was a golden era for the UK Hip Hop scene at the time then suddenly dropped off why did you think that happened?
The political and social landscape was different from what it is now. For example as a white Irish kid growing up in NW London, me listening to Hip Hop wasn’t the norm. The West End clubs were straight up racist, hence the boom of the warehouse parties at the time. I think then, there was more freedom, as in if you wanted to do a rave in a field for 10,000 people you could….now its different not better, not worse.

You were one of the co-founders of the legendary record store Deal Real which became an institution in London for the Hip Hop scene. Did you see a lot of upcoming artists/DJ’s coming through the doors?
Yeah no doubt I remember meeting artists like Nas when he was 21, asking me where he can buy blunts, Big L, Method Man, OC, Beatnuts, Q-Bert, Sadat X the list goes on and on.

During this time you were renowned for your mixtapes what made yours stand out from the rest?
Skills and exclusives

What are your thoughts on the current mixtape scene?
There is no scene really. I think if you want to check out the best mixes online you should go to www.mixcloud.com

What is your favourite mixtape and why?
My favorite mixtape I have ever done is DJ MK Vol. 9 “Your A Customer” just because of the tracks that were out at the time on this tape were craaaazy. Having a promo of Group Home’s “Supa Star” knowing that the only other person who is gonna have it is Westwood. Vol 9’s got a good combo of new music and breaks!

You have worked on radio both pirate and legal for a number of years what do you most enjoy about being on the airwaves?
Every radio show I do, I know that theres at least a quarter of a million people listening and that’s alot of people you can educate, and get them to know good music, rather then the 24-7 jukebox that we are fed.

You have been Roots Manuva’s DJ for over 10 years where did you guys first meet and what do you think has made him be as successful as he is?
Rodney is sucessful because he really understands the concept of making and producing records on every level. Sonically, to the use of his voice and sounds he uses. We met back in 94 through his then manager, who gave me his debut 12 inch, so I could play it that night on a guest mix I was doing for Westwood at the time.

How did you get the job as being the part time tour DJ for Dizzee Rascal?
I’m good friends with Semtex who is his DJ as well as a DJ in his own right, who also works in the industry. If Sem can’t do it and i’m about, then I do it. We’ve done about 30 shows together and working with Dizz is fun. Seriously, so many people get the wrong idea about him. He’s funny, as well as being 100% about his business. He doesn’t take shit from anyone which is another reason why I like working with him.

What’s the main differences between being on the road with Dizzee Rascal and Roots Manuva?
The energy is more intense with Diz due to tunes like “Bonkers” and “Holiday”. Rodney has tunes like Witness, which still to this day blows me away every time I hear it

“Above Board” was your first production album and featured a who’s who of UK Hip Hop. Will you be releasing future production projects?
Hell yeah that’s what im working on right now!

What’s the current state of the UK Hip Hop scene where do you think it can better itself?
It can better itself by people opening their ears. With Facebook and Twitter we are now living in a state where everyone wants constant approval and liking and if you dont like it then you are regarded as a hater. We now live in a time where music is now something that anyone can make that’s great but we gotta remember, that not everyone is good at it.

Who to you has made the biggest contribution to Hip Hop in the UK?
Without a shadow of a doubt Tim Westwood.You are part of the Extended Players DJ alongside Mr.Thing, Shortee Blitz and Harry Love what does each of you bring to the table? Skillz, knowledge, energy and a fucking good party!

You have travelled the globe playing small clubs to stadium status shows do you see Hip Hop as being alive and well?
Hip Hop is alive and well. What you have to remember is different countries get there exposure to Hip Hop at different times. In London we got it in the early 80’s. I was in Jordan in the middle East a few months ago and kids out there are literally hearing Hip hop fot the first time. You see guys spitting on the street in cyphers its crazy!

Radio TV channel “Funhouse” is your new venture describe what goes down and how did you come up with the idea?
Shortee Blitz sent me a text feb 2009, saying check this out it was a link to ‘De La Sul’s Dugout’, which is Maceo’s online chanel. I saw what they were doing and it was amazing. Here I was watching Maceo DJ whilst taLking to my different friends from all over the world. I could use it as a radio and carry on with what i was doing i could watch the whole thing back the next day or I could participate in the chat, and tell the DJ what to play.

Harry Love was my flatmate at the time, and I turned around and said “Yo, we gotta do our version of this” then we didnt actually do a show for about 4 months, but we would speak about what we should do. I was listening to a lot of RUN DMC one day, me and Harry were sitting watching TV, and I said ” Yo we should call it the Funhouse” and the rest is history.

Check us out on www.spinetv.net/funhouse we have had everyone from Raekwon, J-Rocc, Phife, Roots Manuva, DJ Kofi and Oneman all kill it.

Looking back on your career so far what are some of your most memorable moments?
DJing on a plane 30,000 in the air going from New Zealand to Sydney, having your childhood idols thank you for supporting their career and asking YOU for advice lol! Jay Z getting me drunk on some expensive Champagne, Doing my radio show on KIss along with The Funhouse I am reaching over 2 million people a month which is crazy. Also being the first UK group (Roots Manuva) to constantly tour the US and really open the doors for other UK acts.

What does the future hold for MK?
Enjoying music and life along with more production

What’s your definition of Grindin’?
Never stopping

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