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Jazzie was given the keys to seven cities in the US, including LA and New York, and the NAACP has honoured him. Into more recent times, musically Soul II Soul has kept itself contemporary – ‘Keep On Movin’ was used for the high profile Renault Clio television ads. Blige and Sean Kingston have both released cover versions of ‘Back To Life’; while Beverly Knight released her version of ‘Fair Play’ in 2011.A year later, ‘Back to Life’ was featured in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.Then in the same year Jazzie won the Ivor Novello Award for inspiration, and as he stepped up to accept the trophy he was announced as “the man who gave British black music a soul of its own”.2012 saw Soul II Soul receive the PRS for Music Heritage Award with a special plaque erected on The Electric (formerly The Fridge) in Brixton, where the group played their first live gig in 1991.Their first North London sound system, Jah Rico, played mainly reggae, but after three years changed the vibe to more soul and funk and Soul II Soul was born.“We came up with the name not just because of the music we played, it also stood for Daddae and myself – two souls moving together.The new designs aim to recapture that spirit and make the same statements as before, in a time when we need that harmony more than ever.” Soul II Soul clothing: for the way we live.
“Being a sound system is very important to me, I still DJ in clubs. It’s all exactly the same as before, except that the times have changed. The singers and artists are our MCs, and instead of mix tapes we now make records and CDs.” Jazzie B no longer borrows supermarket trolleys and hasn’t seen the inside of a number 14 bus for a while, but the sound system mentality is still very much at the root of Soul II Soul, keeping him in touch with their continually evolving audience.This was truly the Soul II Soul experience, which, unlike other sound systems on the same circuit, wasn’t just about the big name DJs, it was about a vibe. ” The Africa Centre was a game changer for Soul II Soul; for British black music; and for the nation’s youth culture in general.Jazzie remembers it as being unique: “You had people from all walks of life at the Africa Centre. It caught the attention of Virgin Records, who signed them as an act in 1988, catapulting them into a tornado of success.We’ve always had that kind of relationship – there are not many words exchanged between us, but everything that’s happened has been very much in tandem.” Soul II Soul quickly achieved a name in their community, but were in no position to give up the day jobs, and at age 18, Jazzie was working for cockney pop legend Tommy Steele, as a tape operator.He found himself one of the few black people working in London’s recording studio and recalls how this shaped his attitude: “It made me vexed in one way, but it made me see that there are parts of the industry that we’re not taking care of because we always want to be so upfront.” As Soul II Soul grew, Jazzie was determined to create a dancefloor environment that would appeal across the board.