Award season and recognition in music have been seriously hampered by the worldwide pandemic. As covid restrictions began to relax, UK Hip Hop stalwart TJ Chill decided it was time to organise an annual achievement award for a well-deserving participant within the genre. As an active contributor to music since 1980, TJ Chill has various accolades under his belt, a number of which have been garnered by; releasing albums as a founding member of KAOS Krew (and two solo offerings), being an international DJ, working as an A&R and label manager, a radio personality (a career spanning 2002-2010), Battlescars judge (a lyricists tournament based in London), a host for the ‘UK Hip Hop Honours Awards’ and ‘Lyric Pad Awards’ to name a few. Clearly he is an authority on the subject and an ideal person for the job of presenting an inaugural award of this kind. So on Saturday 16th October 2021 he did just that, DJ Sammy Jay who hosts ‘The Xposure Show’ on Itch FM received the ‘Best UK Hip Hop DJ Award’ 2021, live on air.
Sammy Jay is known for supporting underground music, anything from Boom Bap Hip Hop to Grime, she has been especially proactive at supporting female talent and her passion for the music dates back years to when she started on Westside Radio in 2008. After her tenure at Westside she featured on Playvybz, then Guess Radio after which she joined and found her home and permanent residency at Itch FM in 2013. She hasn’t left the air waves for longer than a couple of months during this time.
When questioned about why TJ Chill chose Sammy Jay for this prestigious award, he commented “Firstly I looked at the years she has been repping UK Hip Hop on radio and the level of her commitment, dedication and professionalism in delivering an entertaining and informative programme that is inclusive, fun and very much advocates for the genres being represented. There is an evident passion for the music and the artists that she plays and Sammy just gets on with it with no fuss and no request for plaudits. She is an excellent radio DJ/personality and for her contribution to the scene, to artists and music alike and being thanklessly consistent over many years I felt she warranted the recognition. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who felt this award was undeserving. I hope this will help highlight The Xposure Show to more new listeners, not just in the UK but worldwide too”.
“It means so much to win the award, I have always loved Hip Hop, so it’s good to know it loves me back”
We caught up with Sammy Jay and asked her ‘What it meant to her winning this award’, she responded “It means so much to win the award as I have always loved Hip Hop, it’s good to know it loves me back. Seriously it was such an unexpected surprise as I really don’t do this for any recognition but it is a great feeling to be acknowledged by the scene that I respect so much”.
Sammy attributes early musical inspiration to when she first started listening to US Hip Hop as a child, namely; Biggie, Nas, Tupac, DMX, Wu Tang, Fugees (the usual suspects of the golden era). Anything and everything mid 90s was where she started but then listened retrospectively, including RnB, Dancehall, Reggae, Garage and Grime selections as part of her education. It was only during the early 2000s that she made the realisation that there was a vibrant UK Hip Hop scene (she recalls memories of Ty, Skinnyman and Task Force) as well as the archetypes made in the US. She captured this sound coalescence in the form of mixtapes, passing them around, helping close friends discover new underground music, the inception of her brand that ultimately lead her to the airwaves. She mentions Sarah Love as being one of the first Hip Hop DJs she aspired to – “I really liked her for the underground music she championed”, as well as Big Ted, Shortee Blitz, MK, 279, IQ and DJ Kayper, among others. Rude DJ and DJ Dzine from Westside “taught me everything I know, as well as all my Itch FM colleagues (past and present) who inspire me daily”. Dynamic Jen was another friend she met while at Westside, sadly she passed away in 2016 and although she wasn’t a DJ she taught Sammy a lot about how to present and build a social media presence, another key person that helped further her journey.
In the inteview with TJ Chill, Sammy references some of the Ladies ‘killing it’ at the moment in Hip Hop and Grime, we aked who she likes and there were many artists on her mind; Nolay, Amy True, Shay D, BGR (aka Miss RLee), Dekay (who she recently interviewed), Teach, Lady Sanity, OneDa, Laughta and Lady Shocker (among others, she had a long, long list!). Sammy Jay has always been passionate about music, discovering the wealth of talent in the UK music scene in particular and witnessing the evolution of Grime as a musical genre, inspired her determination to be involved in promoting quality underground music. With her Xposure Show, she provides a platform for the raw talent of UK artists to be heard, helping build foundations for the genre and is long overdue for such recognition.
We definitely want to see more of this in UK Hip Hop, awards going to some of the unsung heroes of the genre, it’s a great way to end a difficult year, so congratulations to Sammy Jay from all of us at UKHH.com.
If you haven’t already, check out Sammy Jay’s Xposure Show where she plays the best in real raw UK Hip Hop every Saturday 8-10pm on Itch FM and have a listen to TJ Chill’s latest album ‘Changing The Narrative‘, this was what was discussed on her show before he surprised her with the award.
Have you got a UK Hip Hop story that needs to be told? Then get in touch, we always want to hear more tales like this from the scene.
Photography credits Kreativ Kingdom