Tim Westwood

As the Commonwealth Games were in full swing Westwood was heading up the M1 to Manchester Central to blow up some classic hip hop joints. Throwing in a few classic UK tracks like Roots Manuva and Blak Twang he's representing the UK - a snapshot of which is displayed on "UK Hip Hop: Volume 1". We got on the blower to wax lyrical about UK Hip Hop, his views on UK Garage and to find out what choice cuts he's blowin up over the airwaves.

Q: You're playing Manchester tonight. Commonwealth Party - bringing hip-hop to the streets. What sort of set can we expect?
A: I think it should be a hot party - that's what it means to me, baby!!! I'm looking forward to tearing it down out there. Bringing the hip hop up to the streets - I'm doing my thing, baby, I feel good about it!!! You're going to hear some classic UK joints like Roots Manuva and Blak Twang - you'll hear those joints - and then you're going to hear classic hip hop!!!

Last time I was up in Manchester some kat came up and gave me his CD and I really liked it for the life of me I can't remember his name, man. (Ed: Moss-sidaz) - Yeah, it was the Moss-sidaz. It was when I did the Radio 1 Big Sunday - a guy out of the Moss-sidaz and I thought it was heavy!!!

Q: You've been into hip hop all your life, man. Do you think it's just getting better and better or is there a period you look back to as the glory years?
A: Been there for the whole journey. People talk about 88 as being the golden era of Big Daddy Kane and EMPD, but I think it just keeps getting better and better, man. It just keeps re-inventing itself and getting hotter.

Q: You were growing up, you weren't from the streets, you had to really search round for those classic joints. Now in 2002 we have the 1Xtra station about to launch. Shows how important Urban music is now?
A: If you've got a digital radio that will be great for you. Hip hops dominating the world. In 2002 it's all about hip hop.

Q: You have put the UK Hip hop album "UK Hip Hop: Volume 1" . Why's it taken so long for someone to represent the UK?
A: I think a lot of people have represented it and I just wanted to go out there and make my contribution. It's a real struggle out there for UK hip hop and it's still got a way to go. I was really grateful for the opportunity to be able to do this album and make a contribution where people could understand what's going on out there. There's a lot of talent that isn't being recognized, yer know what I mean, and that's what I wanted to do.

What you've got to understand is it's a snapshot of what's happening in UK hip hop in 2002. It's not the whole story - it's just a snapshot or part of the story. Grimy Street Kats rhyming on there, people like Strictly Business or Kosheeno. Lyrical people like Funky DL. People living the street life like 57th Dynasty. And then you've got lyrical intent thinking mans hip hop. So it's a nice cross section Vol 1. Just the 1st thing were doing, so it's going out strong.

Q: Why do you think that UK hip-hop can't cross over in the same way it does with the US scene?
A: I think American rap is so big - it's a lot to compete with. A kid that goes into HMV is competing with Jayzee and Ja Rule. Some of the best producers, best lyricists and best artists in the world and they've got the big video and record promotions budget behind them - it's hard for them to compete, yer know what I mean. UK record companies don't really invest in there local talent neither, yer know.

I think you've gotta talk about your own issues though, man. We can't just go out there copying what's happening in the States. The major record companies in the states dominate what comes out so your right when you say that UK hip hop is more individual.

Q: What do you think of the MC-ing side of the Garage Scene? I.e. So Solid, Pay As You Go
A: I really love what they do. I'm not part of the garage scene myself, but I really think that garage is the UK version of hip hop. The MC-ing side of the garage scene should be seen as the UK version of rap.

Q: A few weeks ago we did the New Wave Of New Angry issue. Punk Anarchic spirit but not necessary just guitar bands. So I guess from a hip hop perspective were talking about Public Enemy, Dead Prez etc. Where is the political voice in hip-hop nowadays?
A: I don't think it works out no more. It's not what people want no more and I think it's reflected in the sales of these groups. I think Dead Prez got caught up in the bullshit of their label shutting down, but hopefully we'll see a second album from those guys soon!!!

Q: Finally, what you listening to at the moment?
A: Noreaga. Styles P. Trick Daddy. I like a lot of the danced out stuff like Archie. LL's come with a hot single as well so he's definitely back.


"UK Hip Hop: Volume 1" is out now. For more info:

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