Soul II Soul
Jazzie took his first steps into the world of the sound system when he was just 13. Jazzie and a school friend, Daddae started a sound called Jah Rico, playing mainly reggae music. After three years Jazzie and Daddae changed the vibe of the sound and began playing more soulful music. Soul II Soul achieved a name on a community level but still needed funding. Jazzie wanted to create an environment which would appeal across the board. With its Balearic beats and a new sound called Acid House. Expressing a flare for creativity Soul II Soul naturally slotted into that scene. They then had a gig at the now legendary Africa Centre in London’s Covent Garden, there they created the Soul II Soul experience. Unlike other sound systems on the same circuit, Soul II Soul wasn’t just about the big name DJs, it was about a vibe. The Africa Centre caught the attention of record industry executives and they were soon persued by record labels. In 1986 Soul II Soul signed to Virgin as an artist/band. This partnership catapulted them into success. The Soul II Soul sound was original and infectious, but above all it was a UK thing. Jazzie enjoyed chart success with ‘Keep On Moving’ and ‘Back To Life’ and he and Soul II Soul quickly became household names.
America also embraced Jazzie B and Soul II Soul. In 1990 they picked up 2 Grammy’s. Jazzie was given the keys to seven cities in the US, and the NAACP honoured him. There’s even a Soul II Soul day in America. More record deals followed, Soul II Soul signed to Motown as a label, a production deal with Epic came shortly afterwards. This was alongside the Virgin deal in the UK. Then after 8 years with Virgin Jazzie signed an artist deal with Island in 1996.
Jazzie B has also produced and re-mixed tracks for many successful artists like Maxi Priest, James Brown, Public Enemy, Isaac Hayes, Sinead O’Connor, Ziggy Marley, Nas, and Destiny’s Child. To date Soul II Soul have sold over 6.8 million albums in over 35 territories worldwide. Jazzie has accreditation on over 35 million albums in over 100 territories, Soul II Soul have product on over 200 compilation CDs. They have performed in over 20 countries, and appeared at some of the most famous venues in the world including Wembley and New York’s Universal Ample Theatre.
Jazzie now runs a successful independent label called Soul II Soul Recordings, a state-of-the-art studio in London and does voice-overs for radio and TV. ‘Keep On Movin’’ was used for Renault TV ads. Mary J. Blige covered ‘Back To Life’ and he also does a show on BBC Radio and DJs in clubs. In 2008 Jazzie won the Ivor Novello Award for inspiration, and as he stepped up to accept it he was announced as “the man who gave British black music a soul of its own”. In the same month there was royal recognition for the Funki Dreds when, after 30 years of dedication, Jazzie was awarded an OBE for services to music. The first sound man to be honoured by the Queen.