DJ Semtex is one of the country's premier hip hop DJs. The Mancunian has been hosting a Friday night show on BBC 1Xtra for over 15 years, and has played for over 100,000 people at Glastonbury. He's opened up shows for artists including Kanye West, Nas, Dizzee Rascal and the Wu-Tang Clan. He's interviewed and worked with some of the biggest artists in hip hop, introducing UK listeners to people like Drake and Kanye West – the latter even credited him with launching his career, back in 2005. To add to his list of accolades, he's just released a book documenting his love of the genre, Hip Hop Raised Me, tracing hip hop culture from its inception.
One word to describe London
One word to describe Londoners
What’s your favourite public place in London?
The Leake Street Tunnel
What song feels most like London?
‘Fix Up Look Sharp’. Even though the break had been used loads of times Dizzee flipped it, owned it, and drew a line in the sand. He separated himself from every other artist. He founded Grime, but his 2nd single was an exemplary Hip Hop joint that announced his arrival to the world. The flow and slang perfectly painted a unique picture of life in London.
Who is your favourite London musical artist?
Right now, it’s Dave.
When does Manchester trump London?
On a daily basis. The cost of living is so much cheaper.
When DJing, which track do Londoners always respond well to?
Giggs – Talking The Hardest
How has the UK radio scene changed since you started out?
Radio has lost its superiority and authority to social media and the internet. It is a level playing field now, radio used to dictate but now it is more of a reinforcer which is cool. If something is hot, it cuts through and will eventually achieve more rotation whereas back in the day it wasn’t about what was hot, it was more about decisions made by several people.
What would you change about the city?
Southern Rail should be relieved of the franchise for train services in South London. It is disgusting how commuters have been treated due to Southern’s inability to run a train service properly.
What's your favourite tube station?
Westminster, it is so vast. Feels like it was created to be more than just a tube station.
What's your biggest London extravagance?
El Topo rolls at Sushi Samba.
What’s been your favourite musical experience in London?
Anytime I’ve been fortunate to DJ. I love DJing, I love this city. I never take for granted the fact that I can rock crowds and contribute to a scene within one of the greatest capitals on Earth. This is what dreams are made of, this is what I always wanted to do. Whether it’s hosting a zoo at Birthdays or tearing the roof of the Hammersmith Apollo I just appreciate the opportunity to tear up the set.
Which London-specific word do you use most?
What do you most miss about London when travelling?
When is London at its worst?
During football matches.
…and when is it at its best?
Between 5am to 6am in the morning when it’s daylight, but it’s like there’ s a slightly surreal natural filter, the sky is kind of grey and you feel like you should be asleep. Hardly anyone is around, but you can still feel the energy or space of people that were around 12 hours ago. Even when the streets are quiet and empty, London still feels alive.