DJ MK: A JOURNEY ACROSS MUSIC & STREET CULTURE

From Graffiti, Radio, Mixtape, and DJing. We talk to DJ MK of Kiss FM about his incredible career thus far.

KILLA KELA: You are a big fan of Hip Hop & street culture; how did it all start for you? 

DJ MK: For me the whole culture has been a blessing and a curse but it’s something that I love. Graffiti is how I got into to hip-hop. I’m from from from Wembley and by the time I was in secondary school I was amazed by all the graff I was seeing. I think graffiti is like the purest form of hip-hop because there’s no medals, there’s no reward at the end, you do it for yourself. Graffiti was a huge part of my life up until 1990. 

KILLA KELA: How did you get into Djing and making Mixtapes?

DJ MK: I love djing. I’d always buy records from a very young age not just hip-hop but all kinds of music. I spent a year saving up saving up for my decks, I’d do a paper round at five in the morning before school. I did any odd job to get money together. I got three hundred and twenty pounds together. I bought two Sound Lab decks and a Made2Fade mixer. I taught myself how to mix and I just make myself these mixtapes. I was inspired by culture of hip-hop and of mixtape culture.  I would hear mixtapes on the radio, and it just blew my mind bro. I knew this is what I want to do

I started selling my mixtapes to my friends at college. I sold 500 copies in college and around Ladbroke grove and then I had this good friend tell me about HandSpun records, and how I should sell my mixtapes there. I go down there meet this guy called Pete and he bought like 10 copies off me straight away and paid for up front and at that time as a 17-year-old you know got 50 pounds 

KILLA KELA: You ended up working at HandSpun, didn’t you?

DJ MK: Yeah, HandSpun it was like the hood spot for hip-hop, but we’d get everyone, in a lot of record shops you get the shittiest wanker. Me and Pete always say this, he’d be like we’re never doing that, we treat everyone fairly I don’t care if you’re buying one twelfth or six pound fifty or if you’re spending six hundred pound in here we’re gonna treat everyone fairly so that’s what we did and that was sort of the ethos I suppose for Deal Real,

KILLA KELA: How did you end up working with Westwood?

DJ MK: The mixtapes were getting bigger, and it was mad because I was having my Sunday lunch and Westwood calls up my home phone and my Mum answered. He told me he really loved what I was doing with the mixtapes and could I do a mix for him. He played my mix on Capital and that was just the most incredible thing because his network of of of hip-hop fans was was huge so literally the next day was was was just you know I get people hitting me up.

KILLA KELA: You’ve don’t a lot of stuff with Roots Manuva too, tell me about touring.

DJ MK: I met uh Rodney through his manager then he got signed to Ninja Tunes and then we started to do all these Ninja Tune tours. I’d never been on tour in my life and like you said it just opened up a brand-new world. We started going on European tours, America, Canada and it just got bigger and bigger, it was really exciting 

KILLA KELA: You’re journey, and career is quite something. You’ve also worked with Dizzee Rascal.

DJ MK: I hooked up with Dizzee in 2007 and at that time I’d heard I Luv You and I was like what the hell is this? This guy’s voice sounds so sick, this beat is like some futuristic next level hip-hop.  I remember going to studio and meeting him and I’m thinking I’m going to meet this arrogant kid and he’s just like the most intelligent nicest guy. He’s so calculated and focused. I’d never met anyone who was that focused and I saw the team that he had around him who were all mad safe and they were all you know just they had the same mission. 

It’s a total pleasure because like I only ever wanted to work with people I really respected. He’s a lovely guy and he’s one of my favorite rappers. I was a fan before I worked with him and I’m still a fan now.

KILLA KELA: How did you transition into radio? 

DJ MK: Pirate radio taught me how to be a good presenter. I’d have to do this three-hour radio show by myself and that really gave me the training ground. In 2003 DJ Skully hits me up and he’s like yo uh I’m doing a Christmas special like do you want to come down and do me a mix. So i went down to Kiss and he let me do the entire thing because he was hungover. About four months later Skully was ill or something and I ended up covering his show for six weeks. When he came back, we end up doing the show together. We’ve known each other since he was 15. He used to buy mixtapes of me. But, about a year into our show Scully just turned to me and and said his heart’s not in the djing thing anymore and he was going to do something totally different. He left and  I took over.  I had my own radio show on Kiss which would be live every Thursday night at nine o’clock and you know you’ve got like roughly a quarter of a million live listeners. Nearly 18 years later still doing it, its all been so incredible.

WATCH THE FULL DJ MK PODCAST