Jazzie B: Music of the future needs ‘a happy face, a thumpin’ bass, for a lovin’ race’

The DJ and producer was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award celebrating the influence of Soul II Soul at the MOBO awards, ITV News Entertainment Reporter Rishi Davda reports

Soul II Soul’s sound still ripples from speakers around the world. You’d find it pretty darn hard to be on the dance floor and not be gripped by the groove of Back to Life.

Add their other 1989 hit Keep on Movin’ into the mix and it’s clear to see why Jazzie B’s musical collective had a stronghold on British music culture.

The DJ and producer is now 61 but as a teen he made his mark on the scene with a sound system. 

Sound systems were groups of DJs, producers and engineers carting their equipment around and setting up shop wherever possible. They’d play tunes over a speaker set-up - their primary purpose was to party.

Jazzie B remembers those days fondly, telling me that "the sound system is technically a DIY culture and it’s something that comes from the Caribbean". 

"As we’ve come from the diaspora as it were and the colonies and we’ve come to the mother country we’ve developed our own style. It’s music that we bring to the community and it’s a way of us feeding the community and ourselves," he said.

Jazzie B attends the Mobo Awards, at the Utilita Arena Sheffield. Credit: PA

At the 2024 MOBO awards in Sheffield, the hit-maker was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award celebrating the influence of Soul II Soul.

MOBO stands for Music of Black Origin. Jazzie B sees the importance in their existence adding: "I am a child of the Windrush as it were. We are often bypassed."

"The fact that we have something like the MOBOs to look forward to, that has been developed here in the multicultural Britain. It is very special to us, both musically and socially."

Credit: Jazzie B

Soul II Soul was the overarching name for Jazzie B’s sound system, a clothing line and a record shop. 

The collective had a widely-loved night at the Africa Centre in Covent Garden, London in the late 1980s.

More than 40 years later, Jazzie B is still headlining stages and touring the world, with shows scheduled right through 2024.

He’s kept going by a pure passion for music, which is just "in us, it’s an energy that we all need and it’s part of the fabric of how we live."

"It’s like a medicine, I listen to music, all different types of music and it takes me to all different places," he said.

Credit: Jazzie B

The music industry is constantly finding itself in positions where it needs to adapt and improve. The MTV music video phenomenon, the growth of streaming and the influx of social media platforms.

Jazzie B loves to see it evolving and generating new and creative content.

When asked what the future of music could look like, he simply replies: "Much like Soul II Soul… A happy face, a thumpin’ bass, for a lovin’ race. Music will keep on moving just like we do."

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