Jazzie and friend Daddae started a sound called Jah Rico when they were just 13, which played mainly reggae music. After a three year apprenticeship as Jah Rico, Soul II Soul was created.
“We came up with the name Soul II Soul not just because of the music we played, but it also stood for Daddae and myself – two souls moving together.”
Soul II Soul had by now achieved a name on a community level, but still needed funding. At age 18 Jazzie worked as a tape operator for Tommy Steele and was one of the few black people in a sometimes hostile music business. “It made me vexed in one way, but it made me see that there are parts of the industry that we’re not taking care of because we always want to be so upfront. It also hardened me.”
With a new sound emerging, Acid House was in full swing by the mid 1980s. “We were very arty as an early sound. We never had conventional speakers, we used pyrotechnics in a dance and we had banners and strobes in a house party!”
Soul II Soul then landed a gig at the now legendary Africa Centre in London’s Covent Garden and it wasn’t long until record labels were chasing them down.
Soul II Soul signed to Virgin in 1986 and enjoyed chart success with ‘Keep On Moving’ and ‘Back To Life’. There were the resident club nights throughout the UK and abroad and Jazzie’s show on London’s Kiss FM.
In 1990 they picked up two Grammy Awards. Jazzie was given the keys to seven cities in the US, including LA and New York. There’s even a Soul II Soul day in America.
Soul II Soul signed to Motown as a label, with a production deal with Epic to follow.
This was alongside the Virgin deal in the UK. After eight years with Virgin, Jazzie signed an artist deal with Island in 1996.
Jazzie B has not only produced a string of successful cuts for Soul II Soul, but he’s also managed to produce and re-mix tracks for the likes of The Fine Young Cannibals, James Brown, Public Enemy, Sinead O’Connor, Ziggy Marley, Nas and Destiny’s Child.
Soul II Soul has sold over 6.8 million albums worldwide. Jazzie has accreditation on over 35 million albums in over 100 territories and has 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 out of his studio in London and also does a regular radio show for BBC Radio London.
In May 2008 Jazzie, “the man who gave British black music a soul of its own” won the Ivor Novello Award for inspiration. The same month there was royal recognition, when after thirty years of dedication, Jazzie was awarded an OBE for services to music.
The first sound man to be honoured by Her Majesty the Queen, and probably the most deserved investiture ever.