Very sad news is that pioneer Derek B aka EZQ aka Derek Boland (born 15 January 1965) has passed away from a heart attack at Charing Cross hospital. He was just 44 and everyone who followed Hip Hop’s origins in this country will remember his name and contribution fondly. He was one of the first to make a name for himself in UK Hip Hop from appearances on Top Of The Pops, singles that reached the heights of the charts and his 1988 Bullet From A Gun LP.
When he was 15, he started DJing in a mobile unit around London and later at Bentley’s, before joining local pirate radio stations such as Kiss FM and LWR and finally starting his own station, WBLS (not to be confused with the radio station of the same name in New York). Here is an extract from the UK Hip Hop History about Derek B:
“The label [Music Of Life] originally started producing compilations of US Hip Hop, but due to a lack of material and finances to acquire more licenses for the first record ‘Def Beats 1‘ in 1986, the company’s A R man Derek Boland saved the day and pretending to be both DJ and MC recorded a track ‘Rock the Beat‘. Derek B (and Ezq!) was born and Music of Life had started putting out UK Hip Hop.
Derek B followed up this record with his debut proper ‘Get Down‘ and two more 12″s on Music of life: ‘Good Groove‘ and ‘We Got the Juice‘ both of which charted, Good Groove reaching #16, and subsequently he was to appear on Top of the Pops at a time that the only Rap groups that had been on were Break Machine and Doug E Fresh. Being the first UK rapper to accomplish pop hits he was quickly snapped up by Rush Artist Management and Tuff Audio, Phonogram’s new Hip Hop imprint where he continued to release 12″s such as ‘Bad Young Brother‘ and specials like ‘Def B-Boy‘.
Having been a parody from day one though, Derek B was never to receive acclaim from the underground although there was much of merit in his work. He rapped with an American accent and symbolised the deep engrained argument that UK artists should use their own voices and not copy others”.