Wrap Up And Watch Out: Hussla Dandymite
Founder of Jamaican sound system Jah Troopers, Hussla Dandymite has been on the music scene for a number of years under many different guises; from a producer, artist to DJ. After achieving notable success in all fields, the triple threat is getting ready to take things to the next level with a new album set to follow hot on the heels of a monstrous 27 track mixtape. The Wrap Up's James Walsh caught up with the Northampton resident to talk about what the future holds...
The Wrap Up: Hi Hussla. What music did you listen to when you were younger?
Hussla Dandymite: It varied between reggae and hip-hop. My dad was into reggae and I listened to people like Big Youth, Mighty Diamonds, Shabba Ranks and Super Cat. My mum, on the other hand, always played hip-hop and artists like Slick Rick, Ghetto Boys, Scarface, Snoop and Dr Dre, who were an influence on me.
TWU: How did you first get into music?
Hussla Dandymite: I listened to a lot of music growing up and started playing with my dad's reggae records when I was really young. My own local radio show came about where I played mostly hip-hop, then at about 11 I started writing raps too. I had a walkman that could record and remember having the instrumental to Snoop and Dre's 'Aint Nuthin but a G Thang' that I'd write to and record myself over. I made a load of copies of it and sold it to my friends and family. As I was a DJ first, I had to know what got a crowd going; I had that skill to critique music. So, as well as writing, I then got in to production too.
TWU: What do you see yourself as first and foremost? Artist, producer or DJ?
Hussla Dandymite: I'm most known as a DJ. I've played all over the UK, including alongside Goldfinger, Westwood and Rodigan, I had a special two-hour show on BBC 1Xtra in 2006 and also did another five shows on the station too. However, my main core is producing. The lyrics and rapping comes after I've made my tracks, but it's great to be able to vocal them myself and then play them out when I DJ.
TWU: How would you describe your sound?
Hussla Dandymite: It's a fusion of reggae and hip-hop. My dad is Jamaican and my mum is half American, but then I still have that UK influence as I was born here and grew up here - the environment I've been brought up in gives it that UK twist.
TWU: What has been your career highlight so far?
Hussla Dandymite: It would have to be making it on to 1Xtra!
TWU: You're also part of a collective called Jah Troopers. Can you tell us a bit about that and how they've evolved?
Hussla Dandymite: When there's a group of you DJing and MCing in the reggae industry, they call it a sound system. Jah Troopers was the name we gave to our sound system. Me and my brother DJ Spess and Lickle J started attracting a different crowd to the one we had. We started doing shows at Sidewinder and it was good to have a range of audiences to cater to. Unfortunately my brother passed away in 2003 and with that we lost the garage vibe and I started getting more into producing. Since then I've worked with Jammer, produced Lickle J's album in 2008 and the 3 of us did a track together called 'Caught Up in the Rain'. Ill Murk is another artist we've worked closely with and he still represents Jah Troopers.
TWU: What are you up to currently?
Hussla Dandymite: I DJ on a local radio station called Inspiration FM in Northampton for two hours every Friday evening from 10pm to midnight and I do big events around the world as a group. Me, Ill Murk and Lickle J are still the MC's. On top of that I've just dropped a 27-track mixtape called 'Fistful Of Dandymite' which you can get for free now.
TWU: Cool! Finally, what else is in store for Hussla Dandymite over the next few months?
Hussla Dandymite: I've been working on an album over the last two years with a band, as well as supporting and helping develop young artists. The album will be straight original music, a mixture of live musicians and computer produced music and that should be ready early next year. I'm also launching my own business offering support and development programmes for young, up and coming artists. I want to use the experience, knowledge, skills and contacts I have gained over the years. It's going to be for individuals on a one-to-one basis and also groups of people in institutions and organisations like schools, colleges, youth service organisations and charities. That work is really important to me – the site is now live.
Keep up to date with Hussla Dandymite on Twitter.
You can get Hussla Dandymite's mixtape 'Fistful of Dandymite' now.
Words: James Walsh (@JW_DittoMusic)