"DJ Semtex helped me launch my career," Kanye West proclaimed with rare humility at the 2006 Brit awards. The visionary behind Kanye’s hard-earned props is no stranger to chart-topping acts praising him for catapulting their careers. The UK’s leading hip hop DJ—on-air, online, onstage, and on the scene—Semtex has made it his mission to break artists, records and radio shows. He has toured the globe with Dizzee Rascal, hosted private parties for Mariah Carey, and interviewed the likes of Jay-Z, Eminem, Stevie Wonder, and Nicki Minaj. While DJ’s have been hip-hop’s unsung backbone since its inception, Semtex stands at the forefront of the streets and the masses.
As a kid growing up in Manchester, England, Semtex was hooked on hip hop from the moment he first saw his older brother’s crew breaking to Run-DMC’s “My Adidas” in Kangols and tracksuits. “I'd never seen anything like it before,” Semtex recalls. “I wanted in.”. Semtex started spinning records at all-night house parties in Cheetham Hill, an unforgiving area with raw energy and a cutthroat crowd. “If you could rock those crowds, you could rock any crowd,” he says.
Equipped with invaluable rough and ready training, Semtex started hosting a weekly pirate radio show, working in Eastern Bloc Records during the day and rocking clubs like the legendary Hacienda by night. As his mixtapes gained attention and Sony and Def Jam came calling for promotional mixes, all ears were on Semtex and his ability to deliver what the streets wanted to the boardroom table.
In 1998, Semtex made the pilgrimage to London where he built the Sony Street Team, breaking records for everyone from Destiny's Child to Dead Prez. By 2001, Semtex had set up Def Jam UK’s Urban Department and two years later became one of their most prominent A&R reps, signing Fat Man Scoops, No.1 debut single "Be Faithful". Mr. Hudson, who Semtex helped sign to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. music label, went top three with his single Supernova under Semtex’s A&R guidance. His proven record for unearthing exciting new talent and helping them to crossover to the mainstream is further evident in his efforts in pioneering the signing of Chase & Status, Maverick Sabre, and most recently Dot Rotten to Mercury Records.
The host of BBC’s 1Xtra’s Hip Hop show and the 1Xtra Showcase on BBC Radio One, Semtex interviews the biggest names in the business and boldly breaks exclusives. His infamous interview with Lil Wayne is featured on the platinum-selling Lil Wayne documentary, Mr. Carter.
Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Drake, J Cole, B.o.B. and many more received their first introduction to the UK courtesy of Semtex’s show. Along with hosting one of the most-listened to shows on 1Xtra, Semtex’s web site, DJSemtex.com, is the No.1 hip-hop blog in the UK and among the top 10 DJ hip hop blogs worldwide.
Semtex’s innate gift for bridging the streets and the boardroom has given him the opportunity to consult for some of the world‘s biggest brands. His company, Semtex Media, helps guide blue-chip corporations, global brands and leading pop acts, and continues to market some of the world’s highest selling stars including Kanye West, Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Dizzee Rascal.
Semtex's impressive resume with Dizzee doesn't stop there. His influential work with Dizzee has included producing Mix CDs, the scratches for Dizzee's smash hits "Stand Up Tall" and "Old Skool." He has rocked crowds at more than 400 shows across the planet as Dizzee Rascal’s original DJ, including a worldwide stint performing at most major festivals. Along with helping to Musically Direct Dizzee’s stage show from ‘Boy In Da Corner to ‘Tongue & Cheek’, Semtex has toured with hip hop legends including the Wu-Tang Clan, Nas & Damian Marley as well as supporting hip hop's newest and most exciting imports Wiz Khalifa, J. Cole, and Jay Electronica.
DJ Semtex continues his ascension fueled by his undying devotion to hip hop. Semtex always has one goal in mind – to push Hip-hop forward, “I love the way the culture constantly evolves on a daily basis. I want to help it grow and develop to where ever it goes next” Semtex says. “I don't see what I do as a job. I love the culture. Hip Hop changed my life”.
Check out Semtex live on air on 1XTRA, every Friday 10pm to 1am
On DAB Digital radio or online: WWW.BBC.CO.UK/1XTRA/SEMTEX