b. Derek Bowland, 1966, Bow, East London, England. Derek grew up a fan of the Who as well as the more conventional black sounds of Aretha Franklin, Al Green and Bob Marley. He started out as a DJ when he was 15 as part of a mobile unit touring London clubs. He then moved into radio, working for pirate stations such as Kiss FM and LWR before beginning his own WBLS station. In 1987 he became bored with the disc jockey role and took a job at the Music Of Life label as an A&R man. Alongside Simon Harris (world yo-yo champion, it has been alleged) he signed several of the most notable early UK hip-hop groups, including Overlord X, MC Duke, Hijack, the She Rockers and Demon Boyz. He subsequently started to record his own material for the label. While in New York (visiting his family who had moved there), Derek met the DJ Mr Magic, who played his record to Profile Records, granting him a licensing contract in the USA. His debut single, ‘Rock The Beat’, and its follow up, ‘Get Down’ (which featured the rapping of EZQ - Derek B under another pseudonym), both made an early impact. His hip-hop sounded a little ham-fisted in comparison to New York’s more natural feel, which made the self-congratulatory raps sound increasingly hysterical: ‘We kept on goin’ for hours and hours/Straight after to the bathroom for a shower/Just before leaving she held me close and said/I think you’re the greatest thing in bed’ (‘Get Down’). He hit the UK charts in 1988 with ‘Goodgroove’ and was the only rapper on the Free Mandela bill at Wembley Stadium. Further minor hits came with ‘Bad Young Brother’ and ‘We’ve Got The Juice’, after he set up his own Tuff Audio label through Phonogram. However, that relationship declined when he attempted to push for a harder sound. Further one-off contracts with a variety of labels failed to offer anything of significance, though while at SBK he did ghost write tracks for Vanilla Ice. He then became a member of PoW.
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