Navigator has been MCing since before most of us can remember, and has stayed ahead of the game ever since. He's had hands in all sorts of projects, and the latest is a documentary film, 'The Evolution of a London MC', produced by BeatCulture.net in collaboration with ODTMuzik. Part one of the documentary was releases recently, and we talked to Navi about the film, his career, and what he is involved in at present.
Easy Navigator, where in the world are you and what are you up to at the moment?
I have been living in Berlin for the last 3 years. I am currently studying German language and taking a Sound Engineering Diploma (also in German - total brainache trust me) ... At the same time I have been setting up my label On Dis Ting Muzik (ODTMuzik) which is a non-genre specific platform to release my own music and also other serious artists who have a similar attitude, drive and workrate to music as I have. The main reason I set it up is to have the control over what happens with my music and how the product I intend to release is put together, marketed and promoted.
Your career stretches way back, tell us about some of the memories you have of music over the years.
Wow…that’s a lot to talk about. Briefly I would say my fondest memories are from soundsystem days back in the 80s being on Unity Hi-Power the dons of North-East London and then watching Jungle music develop right in front of eyes at parties such as Roast, Jungle Fever, VIP Champagne Bash, also Kool FM etc. Then being an integral part of the further development of Jungle/DnB abroad in the mid 90s, especially the Meditation parties here in Germany in a city called Mannheim. One in the Jungle on BBC Radio 1 which I hosted as the most regular presenter for 2 years.
Obviously The Freestylers and my tracks Ruffneck & Warning on the 'We Rock Hard' album becoming international hits, we also won the Best Band at the Muzik Magazine awards in 1998 and went onto to tour America as support band on the Lenny Kravitz 'Freedom' tour in 99. Also that year we killed Glastonbury in front of about 20,000 people that will stick in my mind for eternity. I could go on and on.. But one other thing that sticks in my mind is supporting James Brown with the Ragga Twins at a concert in an ice skating rink in Oslo, Norway. I watched the band sound check and James Brown was conducting it, he was standing there listening to the band play and then I saw him kinda raise his finger and point at individual musicians during the sound check. Later I was told by our tour manager that every time he pointed at a musician he was actually docking their wages 5 dollars for every mistake they made, hahahaha! He was over 60 years old at that time and he was still dropping splits, it was an amazing thing to witness live!!
What would you say has been your finest personal moment?
Hmmmmm that’s a hard one. But because of my deep involvement in jungle/dnb music over the years, I would have to say that when Mo' Fire became an overnight success in 2003 it was a very emotional achievement for me. I wanted a jungle/dnb hit so badly and it took me a whole decade to get one. Then DJ Fresh remixed it, who in turn got Andy C to remix it and then it was earmarked for a release on Bad Company Records. Andy C started tearing up parties with the track and went off to the U.S tour with MCGQ. Yo, my heart swelled up big with pride and I called MC Spyda to tell we had a hit, we were astounded. But an even greater feeling of satisfaction overwhelmed me when all the DJs who said they were not gonna play it, started playing it.
We're discussing the Evolution of a London MC documentary & its soundtrack- what is represented in the documentary and is your history put across?
This documentary is a compact chronology of my personal musical journey up until I moved to Berlin. I speak about my vocal apprenticeship in reggae music as a London soundboy throughout the 80s and my rise thru the ranks until I was recruited by Unity Hi Power in 1986 where I teamed up with Demon Rockers & Flinty Ranking who are now known as Ragga Twins. I left Unity in 1989 and did a City & Guilds course in silversmithing and started working as a self employed jeweller in Hatton Garden.
I then go on to explain the winding path that lead me to the burgeoning jungle scene in the early 90s, then onto my stint on BBC Radio 1, Freestylers etc etc, up until I started making music with ErbNduB and SMK in 2009. The soundtrack album is a representation of an array of musical styles and genres that I have recorded over that period of time. There is straight reggae dancehall, hip hop, jungle, drum and bass, drumstep, dubstep, breakbeat, house, and roots reggae. It’s a full circumference of musical fusions that really represents me and what I've been doing musically over the last 3 decades.
It’s also my debut solo album release because I have recorded many albums, but because of various circumstances none ever got released. So I'm sure you can imagine how I feel about releasing my own album finally and it’s coming out on my own label which makes that much more poignant for me.
How did you come to be involved in the project?
Very good question. I got a tweet from Jamie Beat Culture saying he wanted to talk to me about getting involved in a documentary he was in the planning to make, to show how the whole art of UK MC-ing came from a reggae sound system foundation. I already had an intention of making of a documentary myself, but I was very busy making tracks and videos at that time, so what he was suggesting l seemed to fit to perfectly into what I was doing. We shot the documentary in two nights and then as we started to edit the footage we realised what massive potential the whole project had. After more consideration I decided that I wanted to release a soundtrack EP, but as I started searching through my hard drive I found some other tracks that I felt deserved to be a part of the project. I must say that Jamie is total consummate professional and without him this would not have been possible, so I wanna take this opportunity to say mega respect to Jamie BC for all the hard work he put in to make this happen.
After this retrospective, where is the next stop for Navigator?
Stop? LOL... Navigator will never stop. EVER! I will keep on doing what I do, I will carry on developing myself as an artist, as a motivator and mentor to people who I feel have what it takes to express themselves as artists through the medium of music. Whether it’s vocally, production, songwriting skills, visuals or whatever I will always encourage people to push themselves to achieve their aspirations and goals. I get satisfaction out of getting the job done and making sure that the project reaches that fruition stage. It’s all about the Navi philosophy called the 3 A's, Approach, Attitude and Application. There really talented people out here doing music who have no drive, then there are people who are not as talented but their workrate is relentless - that’s the difference. Being Navigator is a fulltime occupation, the potential is limitless. On Dis Ting Muzik is not just a record label - my journey in music will never stop mutating, it actually leads me to new sources of inspiration and that is beautiful thing for which I give thanks everyday.
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