Firmly established as one of the grime scenes most legendary iconic figures, Jammer continues to push the genre in as many conceivable ways as possible. Whether it be via the influence of 'Boy Better Know', collaborations with exciting bass producers like Toddla T and Mumdance or through breathing new life into the genre-defining 'Lord of the Mics' series, Jammer's influence continues to define and shape the scene's inner-workings. With 'Lord of the Mics 3' due out before Christmas and new mixtape 'Jammer Time' expected in the new year, I managed to grab half an hour with the man himself on everything from starting out as a deejay to touring the UK with label mates Skepta and JME:
"I dropped my debut album 'Jahmanji' back at the end of 2010 and ended up doing a lot of launch parties all over the place before turning my attention to Lord of the Mics 3 at the start of this year. I've worked really hard and the whole project has proposed new challenges but its been worth it. We've featured guys like Sox and Kozzie, J1, Jendor, Tre Mission from Canada, Rival, Desperado, Marger, Merky Ace and loads more besides. The DVD will also feature a compilation of tracks from the likes of Ruff Squad and the Newham Generals - everybody who's been around from the beginning really and that'll be out in time for Christmas.
I've also been working on my CD 'Jammer Time' too - my new single, 'On the Ball' will be on there but its not quite finished yet. I'm hoping to get into the studio with Boy Better Know and maybe grab a feature from P Money before its finished. I'm also ready to start work on my second album via 'Big Dada' too - hoping to get started on that in the new year. It's basically gonna be DVD - mixtape - album!"
Despite making his name as an emcee/producer, Jammer's first foray into the world of music was as a deejay back in his early teens:
"I was brought up around a musical family - my dad played in a band and had a decent record collection so I ended up getting quite involved in that. I remember playing his records and going along to some band rehearsals which really made me realise how much I loved music. I started to deejay when I was young, mixing bashment, drum 'n bass, jungle and garage but I didn't start taking it seriously until I was about 13. From there it just progressed really - I went from mixing to making tracks quite quickly and managed to get a job working at a big distribution centre called 'Essential Direct' alongside Sarah Lockhart. She's still a big influence within the dubstep scene but moreover UK music generally so I learnt a lot from her. I didn't really make a name for myself then - I was just getting into the swing of how the whole business worked. I started to save money while I was there though and before long, I started to buy equipment from the centre itself. Every time something was on offer, I'd buy it straight up!
After a while, I'd saved up enough to stop working and start focusing on making tracks - that was the start of everything proper. I started to link up with influential guys like Wiley and slowly started to get my music out there - that was a stem of everything really."
Now an integral part of the Boy Better Know label / collective, it was first hearing Skepta's 'Meridian Walk' that inspired Jammer to get in touch:
"It was all natural progression really. When I first started to make music, I remember hearing 'Meridian Walk' and knew I had to get in touch with Skepta. I rang him and we got talking and started to jam at each other's studios and that was it. I made 'Murkle Man' not long after that which had mad success and kinda got us travelling about a bit. We put a dub together with JME called 'Swag MC Burial' cussing loads of emcees too (laughs) and that got us a lot of attention. We ended up just touring country together and we were basically already a collective back then. JME always had the 'Boy Better Know' thing going on in his lyrics and then did the t-shirts so it kinda made sense to call ourselves BBK and that was that really. I guess it just feels like home to be honest - I've been making music with these guys for years so it made sense, especially after watching the whole BBK thing grow as quickly as it did."
The original 'Lord of the Mics' series has remained a talking point amongst fans and artists a like for almost a decade. Early clashes between some of the scene's biggest hitters invited viewers to revel in previously unchartered and largely ignored inner-city culture. Watching a young Dizzee Rascal and Crazy Titch go at it bar for bar in Jammer's packed, graffiti-strewn basement still serves as one of grime's most iconic images and the series' mass appeal is not lost on Jammer. His decision to relaunch 'Lord of the Mics 3' seems to have recaptured the imagination of the scene's current stars and fans alike, and its release is now one of the most highly-anticipated of 2011:
"The original series were an an amazing thing for UK music - even before number 3 it was already highly regarded and artists looked back on it as legendary. There's loads of new talent coming through now and with so many artists deciding to try and make more commercial music, it felt like the right time to cast the spotlight on the new guys. It gives them a platform to show their talent and shows that they can provide us with good music and lyrical content. I think its already had an impact too - a lot of emcees featured in Lord of the Mics 3 are now getting recognised in the street and earning bookings here, there and everywhere. We've put a lot of money into promoting it and that in turn has provided a much bigger platform for the artists involved than the last two. It brings people together as well - people can buy the DVD, get their mates round, have a drink and watch it. Its entertaining but there's skill involved which I guess sets it apart as different. I honestly felt everything was getting a bit boring and new releases every 5 minutes via the internet weren't really exciting me - Lord of the Mics is definitely gonna be a talking point."
Despite admitting he's found the scene to be devoid of excitement with regards to how music is being released this year, Jammer is still full of praise for the new wave of producers in particular:
"Ah it's wicked at the moment. I'm really embracing the new wave of producers and Faze's track 'Take Off' is obviously part of the series. The new guys kinda remind me of me you know? I think sometimes it takes someone like me to take the time out and endorse their music and make people aware of the talent that's out there. Hopefully my involvement can do a lot for them in that sense."
Although regarded by many as synonymous with grime, Jammer has also been involved with some of bass music's most influential producers over the last couple of years, a move he sees as beneficial to furthering the grime sound:
"I see it all as underground music but I guess its got more electronic elements to it. I started to dabble in it at European shows - I'd check out guys I'd seen at festivals and exhibitions and slowly got into it. People started to send me beats and stuff after that and I was speaking to guys like Toddla T and Mumdance quite regularly. I just thought I'd embrace it in the end. 'Back to the 90s' did quite a lot but it was 'Party Animal' that really branched out to a new audience. I'm actually thinking of re-releasing 'Back to the 90s' because I think people would be more ready for it now. The genre of music hasn't changed my style though - I like dabbling in the electronic stuff but I'm still the same Jammer."
Despite already being involved in a series of big projects, Jammer insists that there is plenty more to come in 2012:
"I guess you need to keep an eye out for the Boy Better Know movement and all the projects I've got coming. 'Lord of the Mics 3' will be out by Christmas, there's 'Jammer Time' due in early 2012 and an instrumental CD called 'Remember Me' featuring all my beats from 2000 to present is also ready to drop. I've had quite a lot of demand for an instrumental release so it felt only right to put one together. The big one for the next few months is Lord of the Mics though - that's gonna be floating around a lot of living rooms, it should be a definite stocking filler."
You can catch Jammer live alongside Mumdance, Funkystepz and Vectra at 'The Nest' tomorrow night (Friday 14th October). He's reserved a special message for those thinking of going:
"Make sure you come down to the nest to see me, Jammer aka the Murkle Man, Boy Better Know! I might have a special guest with me too so be there. If you're not there, you're air. Dun know."
Buy Jammer's debut album 'Jahmanji' via HMV: http://hmv.com/hmvweb/displayProductDetails.do?sku=617600
& check out full details of Jammer & Mumdance at 'The Nest': https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=178882798855684