Big Ted

Think deep concentration, combined with phat beats and rhymes. There isn’t an artist in the game that this DJ hasn’t pushed at some time or another. He’s been a backbone and nurtured the game from behind the scenes and has never turned his back on it.

He’s been putting in work from the early 90’s on Choice FM‘s legendary Friday Night Flava show with DJ 279 and hosted his own show on Kiss FM Rap for over 10 years along side DJ Shortie Blitz, he’s also toured around the world as the official DJ of Blak Twang.

Its not a question if he’s a legend or not he’s a legend that’s still causes ripples in the game… and for the first time he’s now telling his side of the story…

Kwaku: Well basically I’ve known you for a minute now, and you need no introduction, so I guess there’s no other place to start other than at the beginning. How did it all begin for Big Ted?

Big Ted: Well we are going back to the early days, we are talking the eighties now, I guess around about 1982-83, I got a boombox or ghetto blaster whatever. I never really knew nothing about FM radio, Medium Wave (MW) or this and that, I would hear some Elton John or Status Quo or what ever was on the radio at the time. I’d have to tune in at certain times to get a little bit more of what my dad was playing, and get some reggae in the house you know.

We were exposed to quite a bit of mainstream, but then I started to listen to all these pirate stations like LWR, JFM, Horizon, Kiss FM came along a bit later. There was mad stations out there, and I was looking into one station in particular which was called LWR they had DJ Jigs the Vinyl Junkie, Derrick Bowland and they had this dude called Tim Westwood. He had a show on there, I think his first show was on a Wednesday night from 10pm till 1am. So I was listening to this stuff and I’m hearing this Hip Hop and I’m like yeah this is crazy, I’m like I want in!

Kwaku: *nostalgic chuckle*

Big TedBig Ted: I’m listening to the 80’s music and I’m hearing groups like Fatback Band, BBQ Band, Freddy Jackson… it’s mad, I can’t even begin to list them all. Plus this is on top of the rare grooves that people were playing around that time, but it was the Hip Hop that took me, so when I heard this dude, Tim Westwood playing this Hip Hop, you know I was in.

Then he got a Monday to Friday show 4 to 6 so I was leaving school dead on 3:40 then I was getting home so I could tape and tape and tape, shout out to TDK D90’s that’s the most effective cassette tape ever made. BASF and some other brands were alright you know but TDK ruled.

Kwaku: They held it down man… laughs.

Big Ted: When I tell you I was getting my tapes for 69p down Clapham Junction from a shop called Hi-Fi Components I was just going there to stack up my TDK’s take them home and one by one take of the wrapping and just get busy. So yeah that’s pretty much how it all started you know there’s a whole introduction to Hip Hop. By the time I was in school I was already Body Popping you know, but I was whack as a Break Dancer I’m not even going to lie, but my Popping is still top notch.

Kwaku: So that’s where it kind of kicked off for you then?

Big Ted: Yeah that’s where it kicked off, then I used to be going to Covent Garden on the weekends you know DJ Business was a B-Boy, DJ Pogo was a B-Boy, DJ Cut Master Swift was a B-Boy, MC Mello was a poppa you know all these guys, London Posse used to be up there. People don’t know Bionic was a bad B-Boy Bad! You know MC Duke all those mans where popping and breaking way before they were making records. So that’s my foundation that’s where I’m from original Covent Garden, you know I’m not saying I was in there with the big boys popping and breakin’ but you know I was definitely there, I was a fan most definitely.

Around the same time I was getting into breaks and trying to teach my self to DJ you know scratching on my Dad’s record player, it weren’t no turntable it was a record player let’s get it straight! There was no slip mats them days, put a record on a T- shirt draw around it cut around it, put a hole in the middle and put it on the platter (Ted Breaks into a laugh!) that was the slip mat you know what I mean.

Kwaku: I know you did some rapping back in the day, I know you released a record tell us about that?

Big Ted: Rah your skipping forward mad far! Well yeah I mean the rapping was there but the thing about me is I was into Hip Hop, so I wanted to be rapper, I wanted to be a DJ, I wanted to be everything, so I was trying to do Graffiti at the same time I was trying to be DJ at the same time I was popping whilst writing rhymes. That’s what I was about, I wanted to be the ultimate B-Boy the ultimate Hip Hop head. So I tried to do everything, I used to rap and I was pretty nice kid I was pretty nice.

Kwaku: So what was it about Hip Hop that had drawn you towards the music, cos I know you were from a broad musical background, so what was it about Hip Hop in particular that made you say yeah this is the music I want to be a part of? Was it the sound, was it the attitude the culture what?

Big TedBig Ted: It was the action. It was the level of instant participation. What I was hearing I could reproduce my self I couldn’t listen to some Stevie Wonder or Kool and the Gang and reproduce that my self, that would take years of learning a musical instrument.

I hear Grandmaster Flash and I’m like wow I can reproduce that, I can rhyme along to the lyrics then I can take it away and write my own lyrics break it into bits and pieces, you know I can tap out a beat (Ted demonstrates a beat box) I can do that, you know, I can participate instantly, you know get a record and jigger jigger jigger, I make it sound like what I want to hear, I can bus waves and do my stuff right after I’ve watched Beat Street, you know, don’t tell me I wasn’t in, I was in.

It’s that instant participation that made it so exciting, its like there was nothing that was so exciting like going to Covent Garden and seeing people spinning on their heads, doing flips and there would be guys down there doing their graffiti and it was instant, I didn’t have to go training I didn’t have to go classes I didn’t have to learn all I had to do was want to be a part of it, and practice and try to get my self to a level where I could say to people yeah I can do this.

Kwaku: When did you sort of choose your format, when did you realize that okay I want to be a DJ. When did that happen, because I know from what your saying, it sounds like you dabbled a little bit in all of the elements. A little bit of rapping some of the beat boxing, popping so when did you say alright I want to do this?

Big Ted: Its hard to say because I just wanted to do everything the best I could, and whatever opportunity I got to show off what I could do, I would do it.

Kwaku: Okay.

Big Ted: If it was about scratching you know I taught my self how to scratch and I wanted to listen to people like DJ Cut Master Swift, DJ Pogo, DJ Business, them man from Hijack, DJ Supreme and DJ Undercover, DJ Streets Ahead and all these guys. I wanted to hear scratching and send in tapes on the Radio, I want to learn how to do that. Imperial Mixers, Cutty K, Berol B, Rodney Scratch that’s where I wanted to be, so when it came to listening to DJ’s, I wanted to learn how to do that. And I wanted to be at that level. When it came to rapping you know it wasn’t a case of I decided to make a career path and say I’m going to do this or that, I still want to do it all even to this day you know!

I mean the thing with rapping is that, rapping is a lot less expensive it’s just a pen and a paper.

Kwaku: Chuckles!

Big Ted: You know I didn’t get turntables of my own until 1990, so you know from like being a kid, it took me like 7-8 years before I could even get a proper turntable, and the ones that I had then is the same set I have know.

Big Ted

Kwaku: There is one thing, the readers would never forgive me if I don’t ask this, I know you released a record how did that come about, how did you get that joint released on the Pay Day label?

Big Ted: Okay Breaking The Silence, it has a bit of history to it as far as the lyrics go. Basically my days of rapping was in a group called Black Gold (shout out to the rest of Black Gold,) and we were going around making demo’s and DMC which is known as a DJ competition and DJ organization. They had a rap competition and they had been running it, but it wasn’t really on any kind of level that people knew about it, but they had been running it and people that were into it knew about it. And I heard about it through knowing Cut Master Swift and him being a world champion he was, like; “Ted you should go in for this”. So I’m like “really?” and he’s like “yeah”, so I was like, “okay!” So I took his word for it and went for it and to cut a long story short, I won and this was in 1990 I was the UK DMC Rap Champion and we all kind of went a bit crazy and I won. The competition was judged by A Tribe Called Quest , Professor Griff and The Last Disciples. It took place at the London Hippodrome.

Kwaku: That’s history right there people.

Big Ted: Yeah there was a lot of praise man it was dope, and then, err, what else happened now… yeah so I’m kinda there just thinking what else is going to happen now, something’s going to happen after this. There was this offer of this Sleeping Bag record deal and nothing ever came of that. The Sleeping Bag record deal never came so that was that. So I was just making demos with my boys and just rapping when ever I could. Pogo and Business had set up this label and Pogo approached me with a beat and he said; “Ted I like what you’re doing, do you want to do a track?” And I’m like Rah DJ Pogo has asked me if I want to do a track I mean yeah of course I was down. I remember I had to meet him out in South East London do to this track, and I came into the studio and we laced it man, I mean on there I’m kind of talking about… mmm (Ted Pauses).

Kwaku: Yeah speak on that (I convince Ted to reveal what he seems unsure to share with us).

Big Ted: Yeah the lyrics on there, you know there’s a whole bunch of subliminal disses you know I could be talking about a whole bunch of people you wouldn’t even know about. It was a case of Hip Hop Connection had covered me in the DMC Championships, but because of the of the way that they write, it took like four months for the article to come out, I mean I won it in March and then it came out in July so I’m like, this is whack who’s gonna care that late! You know I needed it much sooner and I knew how things went but I just felt dissed, so you know I was dissing them cos its like 120 days later and their putting this information out. Who’s going to know who’s going to care?

I was kind of annoyed at that. So Breaking The Silence gave me the opportunity just to say, “I’m here!” That’s the Disconnection Team, that’s what that line was about, meet my boys the Disconnection Team, cos we was dissing Hip Hop Connection and you know it’s just crazy that I had that chance to make that record. cos I remember that year as well. I think it came out 1991, it was crazy snow it was like one of those years where it was mad snow, it was like February or something, I just remember London was shut down because of some big snow storm when that record came out. It was kind of incredible and it did quite well you know, Max and Dave had it on their chart for a while.

Kwaku: It was a good record.

Big TedBig Ted: Thank you very much.

Kwaku: You know I had to cover that, people!

Big Ted: That’s all good, that’s all good. You know even to this day, I see people putting it up as a UK Hip Hop classic, and I’m like wow. Honestly every time I see like someone put it up and I’m on their blog, I have to comment and say thanks for putting it up. You know, cos I appreciate that. The other day I was on some bloggers page called Disco Waxer (shout out to Disco Waxer), he had put it in one of his mixes. I’m like wow man, people still know about Breaking The Silence, PD3, Big Ted aka Jeopardy, that’s incredible. So I’m blessed for that definitely.

Kwaku: Okay going slightly forward, break down the whole affiliation with Liberty Grooves the whole era behind that, what it meant to you, and how you got involved with it?

Big Ted: Okay well Liberty Grooves is a shop that I found during my lunch break one day, and I used to work in Saver Center in Merton that’s how man used to buy turntable and that brah you see on the Gadget show, my man Ortis, he used to work there with me (shout outs to Ortis). We wore blue uniforms.

Kwaku: I thought you guys were affiliated or knew each other.

Big Ted: Well yeah he used to be the cashier, I was in the warehouse still eating biscuits doing all kind of crazy business. There was one guy who recommended the shop to me, this guy called Mike, he said; “Yo! There this shop in Tooting that sells nothing but Hip Hop!” I was like, “Are you crazy? If that shop existed, I would know about it”. And he was like, “Well obviously you don’t, so you need to go and check it out”.

And I went in there and saw this dude behind the counter, so I’m sifting around and I’m seeing all these classic Eric B and Rakim and LL Cool J, and I’m just like this dudes got all this music for the records that I had on tape. I mean most of the records that I had on tape he had the vinyl and I was like, what! So I was looking at my pay cheque like you are going to get murdered in this shop! So that’s what happened man, with the next pay cheque I got, I went down to the store and just bought and bought and bought and I hadn’t met the store owner yet at the time, it was just like another guy that was working there. Finally I met the owner, this guy Johnny F this skinny dude with some curly and what you call them things a rat tail (“Hello Daddy!!” Big Ted’s sons decides to grace us with his presence).

Big Ted: “Hey you, you go back into your room and play!” (we both break into laughter ha ha).

And this dude said that you know I appreciate you spending so much money in the shop and what ever. And he had copies of my record (Breaking The Silence) in the shop, and I’m like rah! And I had to say something, so I said to him, “You know that’s me”, and he said, “What are you talking about?” I said “That’s me on that record rapping”. He was like, “really?” I said yeah, and he asked me to sign it something like, “Big up to Johnny F from Big Ted, yo gimme a job”. And as it happens with jobs and supermarkets it comes to a head and some one says its either you follow the rules or you leave. So that’s what it came to and I had to leave. So I went to Johnny F and asked him for a job and was like of course! So that’s how I got in and it was a rap. That was around 1992/93.

I mean we was like almost the hottest Hip Hop shop on the globe, cos we had the most exclusive records. People would call up for records you couldn’t get, and we had them. We had albums that were only on vinyl that only a few ever came out. You could get them on CD but we had the wax.

We had the promo singles, extra instrumentals, or the Pete Rock remix that you couldn’t get, or the extra verse or whatever. People would just call up for the records that they couldn’t get, with the illest freestyle sessions you know, on a Saturday people would come down… (Ted gets lost for words) Err.. I mean its a whole other story that you would have to do about that, on how legendary that store was, because so many people who met just because of that shop I couldn’t even begin to tell you. The amount of connections that were made and some of them I don’t even know about. I mean, people come up to me and say, ‘I met such and such at the store, we did this and we did that.’ There was so much going on in there we had that new years eve jam.

It was lyrically and spiritually amazing for Hip Hop, Rodney P was down there, MC Mello would come through, every crew, DJ’s right across the board, producers, artists that you hear about now used to come through the store. I’ve had big time DJ’s that come up to me and say Ted you served me when I bought my first record and Liberties and like really… (Ted is speechless for a brief moment) The stories I could get into, I mean there’s just so much. I mean, I swear to god every week I met people that say I’ve sold ’em records at Liberties – these are people that were in their school uniforms at the time, and now they’re grown men and woman telling me how I sold em records like 17 years ago.

Kwaku: I’m sure it holds a lot of close memories for you, I mean if you could name two memories from that era what would they be, and could we ever get that back possibly?

Big Ted: Mmmm… (Ted takes a deep breath) It’s hard, the new years jam is definitely one of those moments.

Kwaku: Okay.

Big TedBig Ted: On New Year’s Eve, so many of London’s dopest passed through that night, I can’t even start the list. Man, it was just such an incredible night. It was just a record shop in Tooting in between a newsagent and a Star Burger place. That’s where we were, a record shop with a hell of a reputation. Big shout out to Johnny F!

Kwaku: Indeed.

Big Ted: Man, another memory… let’s see another memory, this one’s a bit crazy. This kinda broke my heart – the day the store was closing, I didn’t know the store was closing.

Kwaku: Oh no.

Big Ted: Yeah Hip Hop just kinda fell apart for that period. People weren’t really buying records as much, and we were trying to be too good. We were keeping our prices lower then every one else, and we had such exclusive material. Just doesn’t really last for ever so once people came in and bought the exclusives they left the regular stuff. They don’t want EPMD the regular version they want EPMD the trunk mix and we only had 15 copies of the trunk mix but we had 30 40 copies of the regular version but people didn’t come in for that, they came here for the version that people can’t get any more, so the shop was a victim of its own success in that kind of sense.

But the day the store was closing I was doing the Def Jam 10th anniversary mix tape up in Gee Street studios and I was working on that. And Shortie was in the store, kinda taking my place for the day or whatever and that was the last day, and that’s kinda crazy to me cos I didn’t know and that’s the day the store kinda closed its doors and that’s quite a strong memory for me.

Kwaku: I mean arguably you are one of the names in UK Hip Hop. As far as I’m concerned you’re cemented in the game permanently.

Big Ted: Well you say that, you say that, but I don’t know man. I don’t know.

Kwaku: Well it’s a fact.

Big Ted: I don’t know.

Kwaku: Okay let’s take things up further again. I mean how did it all get started for you on the legendary Choice FM’s Friday Night Flava Show? Let’s take it from there.

Big Ted: Okay well the Friday Night Flavour wasn’t called the Friday Night Flavor until I came along. It was The Rap Attack and that was with Steve Ren and DJ 279, who was kinda co-hosting, and kind of setting him self up for the take over, and the take over finally came, but it wasn’t called the Friday Night Flavor, it was still called The Rap Attack. Now I was still rapping around this time as an artist and whatever. And I knew 279, I had met him through a friend of mine who was in my crew, he knew 279 from around the way. They were from the Tooting and Mitcham area, they kind of knew each other, and Steve or 279, he still messed around with a station called Dance FM. He had his own station there and he was doing the Choice thing as well.

Now I sent 279 one of my rap demos I was rapping over a Def Jef beat dropping rhymes on drum or something I think I put down and just asked him to play it and he did. And he said “Yo Ted, I think it’s really good”, and the opportunity had come for Steve to make this jump but Choice FM wanted a demo. The Management said we are willing to listen to a demo of yours and makes a decision from there or as it stands you can remain co-hosting with Steve. (Ted takes a deep breath) So he approached me, 279 approached me and said “Yo Ted, can I interview you for my demo for Choice?”

Kwaku: Okay.

Big TedBig Ted: I’m like, “Yeah of course!” So we went to some dudes house that had the whole set up, did the show live just like that, there was no edits, there was no okay lets rewind and do that bit, we just did it! He was very professional with it the whole show just ran live you know. He handed that into Choice and Choice said yes and then he took over, and that was kind of it for a while.

279 had Cut Master Swift as the DJ on the show, cos you know Swift is the man. So now Swift is on there cutting up bits and pieces and whatever. So for some reason I think Steve asked Swift to see if I could come up on the show as a guest or something. I went up there and I did a little rapping or whatever a few bars and we ran some jokes and it was cool you know? So I was like, wow, I’m quite nice at this, and I kind of always desired to be on the radio because I spent so much time listening to the radio. It wasn’t just Hip Hop radio I was used to listening to. I used to listen to Radio London, I’d listen to Tony Blackburn, Dave Pierce, George K, like all these people I used to listen to. Grace who was on Capital Radio along with Mike Allen, and just like all kinds of stuff and I was sure that I could get knowledge from them by just listening to them, hearing different presentation styles so all that was in me. So when it came for the time for me to be on the radio I already had a sense of how I wanted to come across even as a guest and it was cool and he liked what I did.

It happened a few more times when I came up there and hung out and cracked a few jokes and you know. You had another guy on there called Def K, was it? No no no no Def K was the DJ from Demon Boys (shout out to my man Kevin), err I forgot the name of this guy… that’s really bad, Ted Laughs ha ha) well you had another guy on there doing the shout outs and playing the co-host and I thought, for whatever reason it wasn’t really working out with him and 279, so he left and 279 asked me. So I was like, Friday night, popular radio show, it sounds like a plan, so I was in and it just started form there.

I started out answering the phones initially, reading the shout outs and then I was learning the ropes as well. He would teach me how to edit records and the way people edit now is totally different, you digitize the track you throw it in the editing package you mark it then you press the button it does what it does, back then, you had to tack your track either vinyl or tape record it onto a massive reel to reel and then you had to cut pieces of editing tape, get your blade mark the beginning mark the end take it out stick it back in and you know your swearing was reversed. And we would have to do that to tracks constantly so I learned to edit the hard way, it’s like the difference between learning to drive manual and automatic.

Kwaku: So its way before the wave forms and mouse clicking?

Big Ted: Listen man, its way before that, way before that, waaaaay before that! (Big Ted laughs) So that’s what 279 was teaching me and I was learning from him when I was at the station just presentation style and being around it and actually being in a radio station being aware of the mic and the headphones, everything that’s going on around you. One thing is that you have to able to multi-task, you know a whole studio awareness. It’s way different to just being in the booth on a mic whilst reading lyrics from a book so its a whole different sense of being in the studio, and I liked it. It’s kinda like I knew I was in!

And it just progressed from there you know. And I gotta say me and 279 ruled the airwaves for a long ass time, we ruled on a Friday. You know one of the first things I did and I got to say I’m going to take my credit for this, if you want to believe it or not, I don’t want to contradict what’s been written and I have said this before;- well I changed the name from the Rap Attack to the Friday Night Flava.

Kwaku: So that was you?

Big Ted: That’s me!

Kwaku: I have to admit I didn’t know that.

Big Ted: That’s not a boost ting but you know it is what it is. I’m a grown man, I did that. It’s something I done and I’ve not taken credit for it, but that was me.

Big Ted

Kwaku: Okay.

Big Ted: So the show was called The Rap Attack, I even built the jingle the one that went the “flavor, the flavor, the flavor, the flavor…” So when you hear the Friday Night Flavor, pour a little Ribeana for me, you know what I mean, cos that’s my credit. So as for as doing the jokes you know I used to do my annual Hip Hop Award and the amount of artists I met, I met Big L up there, I met Kool Keith, I met Snoop Dogg, I met LL Cool J, like so many people I met first time up at that station you know.

The one thing that still saddens me to this day is…

Kwaku: What?

Big Ted: Is the year Biggie was shot dead he should have been in London.

Kwaku: Damn (lost for words for a moment).

Big Ted: He should have been in London. I mean if he’d been in London, he would have been on the Friday Night Flava being interviewed by me and 279.

Kwaku: So he was meant to be in London when that whole thing kicked off?

Big Ted: Yeah if you watch the film Notorious there’s a bit in there that says “Yo Big are you going to London?”, “Ah nah, I ain’t going to London man”.

Kwaku: Yeah I remember that bit.

Big Ted: Yeah that’s the bit, that part there, he should have been in London, he should have taken a flight instead of going to wherever he went. And that’s a stone cold fact.

Kwaku: That’s a shame right there, I mean I didn’t know that.

Big Ted: That’s the Gods honest truth man.

Kwaku: I mean you guys held it down for years. I mean it’s embedded for anyone who kind of knows the whole history of the way this UK thing kind of formed together, but like speaking on all that as the years went on, a lot of the listeners – and you know I’m going to touch on it, a lot of the listeners noticed a kind of rivalry if I’m fair to say between yourselves (Choice FM) and Tim Westwood (Radio 1) quite arguably it looked like there was some rivalry going on, on air I mean what can you say about that?

Big Ted: Of course there was!

Kwaku: I mean I’m being light with it, but it looked like there was some kind of beef going on with you guys. I mean how did all that kick off? Just break that down for us.

Big TedBig Ted: Well okay I’m going to be real. Before I got on the show, I never had beef with Tim Westwood, because before I was on the radio I was a listener. I was heavy into the Hip Hop on the radio and put them onto tapes. I never had no beef with nobody, I mean what am I beefing with a DJ for? I’m just trying to hear the music you know, and at that point Max and Dave from Kiss FM had a three hour show, and 279 had a three hour show. So that’s six hours and Westwood had another three hours over the weekend so that’s 3,6,9. We were only getting nine hours of Hip Hop on the radio so I ain’t beefing with nobody, I’m trying to have love with everyone so I can get the music, but once we got on the air that changed.

279 is so serious about getting hold of music, one example of how serious he is and how upset other people can get: When the 2nd Leaders Of The New School album came out called ‘Time’, 279 started the show at 9′ O clock in London with tracks from the new Leaders Of The New School album. By about 9:15, he got a call from America from someone at Elektra Records saying, 279 stop playing new Leaders Of The New School!

Kwaku: Your joking!

Big Ted: Because somebody was upset I don’t know who, but it could have only really been another DJ complaining that some DJ has got this album before him because as a listener your not going to contact Elektra Records saying ‘yo! Why have they got the new Leaders?’ (Ted gives a chuckle).

The reason I had beef with Westwood is cos for what ever reason, 279 had beef with him and 279 was my boy and I was on the show so what ever he’s defending I’m going to defend it too, and that’s really the only reason I got into some kind of heckling with Westwood you know. Cos I never had no beef with him before, but its just because we was killing his ass with new music, we was killing it. And he was killing gigs too don’t get it twisted, but you know if your the No. 1 and then someone comes along and starts killing you, you know you going to do something about it and that’s what it was so it was an intense rivalry. I don’t know if it was like beef with me personally maybe it was for 279 it runs deeper than that cos of whatever, but for me it was just like a radio war definitely.

I mean we were cool with Max and Dave because they never seem to have no issues with what we were doing. At the end of the day, they did what they did and we did what we did. I guess cos it was a Friday night kind of competition, cos we were 9-12am, he was either 10-1am or 11-2am or something like that. So it was an issue for him because the listeners are clashing, so I guess someone’s got to loose an hour, or someone’s got to put in a tape and listen afterward, cos you know what I mean, someone has to loose an hour, it was just crazy! I mean I loved every minute of it, I loved every single minute of it. Other than that I had a great time, a great time doing all of that.

Kwaku: Break down the whole era here. I mean, you guys were running the night at the Borderline.

Big Ted: Yeah we had the Flavor Of The Month, that was the hottest Hip hop spot, the 3rd Monday of every month and you know, I remember you calling me up countless times to get on the guest list.

Kwaku: Ha ha, yeah that’s right!

Big Ted: On a Monday like four O’clock in the afternoon, “Yo Ted, what you saying? Can I get on the guest list?” I remember, it was on my old Mercury one2one number.

Kwaku: Ha ha yeah that’s true. But going back I mean from my memory from the whole era there was no other place for us to go, and for everyone to be in one building and to listen to the music that we love, there was just no other place. I know Westwood was doing his thing, but he was more about bringing over Americans as opposed to creating a platform for people from here to see UK talent.

Big TedBig Ted: Yeah and his set was much more just about him and playing the records. There was very few PA’s from London or groups from London on his stages, unless there was an American towering above them. But 279 had Blak Twang who had done his first performance at Flavor Of The Month and I even did a performance and like so many people, you know the Lords Of Rap came down to do their thing, Force and KZ came down and did their thing, you know there’s so many different artists. Gangstarr, you know Guru used to come through to be apart of that and Main Source when Large P or Extra P was in town he was just chilling I mean, Janet Jackson came to the Flavor of the Month, you know this is serious. This its real talk you know all these things went down. All these things went down at this spot!

We had the legendary open mic session and you know it was just great. Cut Master Swift on the ones and twos, 279 on the wheels of steel, Baby K was the name of the guy that used to co-host the show with 279 and it was a Legendary Club, you know if you find me on facebook, Teddy Ted, I got like a few photo’s of some of the things that went down. You know you can see Dominant G posing of in a couple of pictures you know its for real its for real that club there, even Westwood used to come down and stand at the back, seeing what’s going down seeing what we were playing or what ever just catching a vibe.

Kwaku: That’s true.

Big Ted: Yeah countless times, countless times. So as much as there was a vibe or beef or whatever, at that point there Westwood was able to come in the club and there would be no trouble, then things couldn’t have really had been as serious as previously thought, but things do change, things do get serious and sometimes the fun goes down.

Kwaku: So round that up, how did it come to a close for you in terms of Choice, was there any beef between you and 279?

Big Ted: The best scenario I can give, is if you have two brothers sharing a bedroom there’s the older brother then the younger brother, now the younger brother is subject to the rules of the older brother. If the older brother says come out the room, cos I got some girls coming over, the little brother has to come out and go and find something to do downstairs go to the kitchen or go next door and go and find something to do next door, But at a certain point the younger brother reaches a age where he wants to start bringing girls back to the room so he’s not going to tell his older brother what to do, he’s got to go and find his own room. So he’s got to go and do what he wants to do, and that’s basically kind of how it happened, I reached a point where you know I felt like I know what I am doing now, but this is not my space. I can’t run this space, this isn’t my space.

Any way Shortie Blitz was at the record shop and prior I had spoken to Max and Dave cos Pogo was leaving, so they needed a mix DJ, but was looking at someone else. So there’s no denying he was and still is a very hot DJ, so I put his name in the air and after a few endorsements Max and Dave were a little bit under pressure so Shortie was on Kiss and when I left Choice me and Shortie started to work together a bit more and just in out doing different clubs and I’d come and hang out at Kiss just a little bit, just to see what was going on to keep myself in the loop.

And it just transpired that there was a clean out, up and a take over up at Kiss and because of me and Shortie’s association, the door was kind of left open for us to take over from where Max and Dave left off, so that’s how I made the move from Choice over to Kiss FM. I mean in closing, at Choice… it was just time really.

Kwaku: I mean that’s one of the best analogies I’ve ever herd in terms of like breaking it down in so far as moving on and doing other things I must say its a very good example.

Big Ted: Well thank you man, I mean I will say it was emotional you know, I mean there were other things to it but, you know basically its a case of I want to do things that express how I feel and its not 279’s job to defend or to read what I’m doing if he doesn’t agree, so if I don’t want to do what he’s doing any more than I need to find some where, where I can do it. So in general sense that’s what it was about, I reached the point where I just couldn’t do it any more.

Kwaku: So moving onto Kiss FM, take us through the years man. I mean you were on there for a minute.

Big TedBig Ted: I was on Kiss FM for 10 years.

Kwaku: So take us through that. What was it like when you linked up with the team, what was it like?

Big Ted: Well me and Shortie were cool so it wasn’t backward in a sense of we didn’t need time to learn about each other, we were totally cool and we were Hip Hop heads and being given a forum and a opportunity to just do what we wanted to do, and play anything we wanted to play in a way that was Hip Hop. You know we could just talk it, act Hip Hop, we could be Hip Hop. We could just play the music, plus we were both nice on the turntables. We had total Hip Hop chemistry it was just a lot of fun.

But obviously you have to learn the rules which was slightly different because we were both front men, whereas at Choice, I was just a co-host. Unless 279 went away, I was the one covering the show. But I wasn’t totally 100 percent there, because it was never my show. With this one now, it was down to us for the direction for the content, you know for the whole theme, everything, it was all down to us. So we had to take this a bit more seriously rather than just turning up with records and just knock out two hours of music we had to have a bit of a plan. And that’s kind of what we did, and I feel like we dealt with it.

Kwaku: What were the best memories, in so far as some of the artists you had on the show?

Big Ted: Oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man, Jam Master Jay! When Jam Master Jay came up there and we rapped Sucker MC’s with him, you know that was pretty incredible, cos they came over to open this new Foot Locker store over at Bond St., and they rapped on the roof of the Foot Locker store. No one saw that, cos no one else was allowed on the roof, but you know, Run DMC were in there, and Jam Master Jay came by our show later in the week and it was just an incredible experience. The thing was, I was so nervous and Shortie was so nervous, this is Jam Master Jay you know what I mean?

When I say it now and those who just don’t know, Jam Master Jay, he’s the guy from Run DMC that got murdered. It’s more than that, so so so so so so much more that that, so this guy came in the room, you know he’s got the hat on, and I’m like, rah that’s Jam Master Jay, and he’s just seeing that we’re nervous and he says let’s be cool we’re all DJ’s let’s just relax and have some fun. And that’s it! Instantly I’m like, oh my god and I just let the nerves fall away and we just got into it and had fun. I mean we are just talking and he knew that we knew we was all about the Hip Hop and he just put us at ease as I said it was just incredible.

I’ve had too many great moments on the show. I mean, ah man now your killing me man, I’ve had Pete Rock that was just amazing, I just got to speak with Pete Rock for an hour. We spoke about everything about CL Smooth, we spoke about his love of scratching his Big Daddy Kane records, we spoke about choosing samples, we spoke about people he used to work with, what happened when he worked with Cannabis, when he worked with Rakim, I mean I even got to rap with Pete Rock. It was crazy, it was like me and him was bredrins, it was crazy. People to this day tell me it was one of the most fun, listenable interviews ever heard on the Radio.

You know, I know now after what I’ve done I can die and I’ve got my Radio Classic moments, I’ve got some classic moments that nobody can take away.

Kwaku: So changing the pace slightly now in terms of the state of the music and everything, I know everyone always covers it but I mean obviously we have had a very dominant thing for Grime and Hip Hop I mean for those that don’t know how would you compare the two?

Big Ted: Grime it’s predecessor you know they’re just much more commercially accessible than in terms of Hip Hop. You know if your rapping, then its Hip Hop and I don’t want people to try and deny that you know a lot of these guys may not feel like its Hip Hop but it is! You know a lot of the artists making it, recognize it’s Hip Hop, cos there still referring it has to as Hip Hop. Artists like Skepta now has a track out there with Diddy, you know you can’t deny Diddy’s Hip Hop roots. You can’t tell me that Skepta don’t listen to Biggie, and he’ll say it him self; Biggie is one of his favorite artists. So they can call it Grime that’s fine because Hip Hop is allowed to have other things going. I don’t look at it like its something totally different, I just look at it like okay this is the commercial arm this is where its going to make its money but it’s still Hip Hop.

The music essentially is built on that attitude of Hip Hop, the energy of Hip Hop and the drive of Hip Hop. You know Hip Hop had various tempos back in the day it, was 90 bpm to 115 so its nothing new to hear this type of tempo with people rapping fast. You know its just interesting it’s an English form, very very English form of it. It’s all good. I mean, personally a lot of the records I hear, I don’t like them, but I don’t’ have to like them. It’s not going to affect anybody if I don’t like them. If I don’t like what Tinchy is doing now it doesn’t matter, unlike the Tinchy before. I mean I enjoy his stuff. Chipmunk an all, when Chipmunk came and spat bars with Wiley, very very serious guy when it came to rhyming, but his records now, with all his these shiny jackets on with sunglasses I don’t like them, but I don’t have to like them. It’s not going to effect them if I don’t like them you know? It shouldn’t matter, so as far as that goes I’m happy that at least rapping now is seen seriously you know? So Tiny Tempah getting a No.1, Tinchy’s getting a No.1, Chipmunk’s getting a No.1, Roll Deep is getting a No.1 and they’re rapping. So Solid got a No.1 they’re rapping.

You know we had Monie Love in the charts, we had Cookie Crew in the charts, we had like MC Tunes, you know Merlin back in the day. You know we were getting close to the charts, you know Derek B as well, rest in peace, we were getting close hitting the top of the charts, but now these guys now a days there doing it and I just want artists and the audience to recognize there’s a foundation these guys haven’t come out of nowhere and been doing this the whole history of music from this country and this city before them, that’s laid the ground work. Soul 2 Soul being internally known and famous had laid the ground work, it can be traced back you know its there.

Man like Teddy Riley was remixing Soul 2 Soul, and now Skepta remixing P Diddy. I’m not going to get mad about it, I just want people to recognize the relationship between present and the past and not go on like no ones ever done anything of any note before these guys came along, because it’s sad and ignorant. It’s like saying that these guys never had parents, you know these guys were not born themselves. Someone was there before them and created them and showed them the future, so that’s all it is for me you know just recognize what’s come before you, just know there is a history and its there.

Kwaku: Once again thanks for taking the time out to do the interview.

Written by: Kwaku
B&W Photo ©: Tobias Freytag | FAD photography |

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