Jazzie B has revealed that he was regularly targeted by police throughout his childhood. The Soul II Soul founder spoke out as he prepares for new UK dates more than 30 years after Back to Life topped the charts and won the group a Grammy.
“By the age of 16, I had already been stopped by the police more than 10 times,” he said in an exclusive interview for The Big Issue’s Letter to My Younger Self. “That’s a very conservative estimate.”
In a wide-ranging interview, which also takes in Soul II Soul’s cultural legacy, his early days building up a following for his Sound System and his friendship with one of his musical heroes, James Brown, the DJ, producer and Sound System supremo recalled incidents of racial profiling by police.
“I went to Holloway Boys’ School. Even the short distance between the school and where I lived was a minefield coming through the dirty Old Bill,” he says. “There were a few rogue policeman.
“And I remember leaving the Holloway Odeon late on a Friday night and getting stopped by police who said the plugboard I had in a Safeway bag was an offensive weapon.
“It was what I was going to plug my sound system into the next day! I could have gone super rebellious because of the level of nonsense we had to go through. But for some reason a bit of maturity kicked in.