Frequent Players Guest Mix 041 | DJ Limelight
When you search DJ Limelight, the first thing that comes up on the BBC site is “The biggest beats from across the UK Asian party and underground scene” and we can’t help but think this is an understatement.
With over 20 years experience behind him, Limelight has been at the centre of BBC’s Asian Network for over 15 years delivering the goods from new, emerging talents through to some of the biggest names within the music industry. Now, Limelight steps up to the decks for what is our forty first Frequent Players guest mix.
Footpatrol: You’ve been an influential DJ within UK and Asian music for a number of years now, can you give us a bit more of an introduction for those readers who may not know of your work?
DJ Limelight: Sure thing. I’ve been a DJ for near enough 20 years now holding down a radio show on BBC Asian Network for over 15 years supporting emerging stars, building the foundations of UK Rap to Desi Beats throughout my career. I began my journey as a Mixtape DJ, selling Mix CDs on the streets to market stalls to get my name out which ended up having artists such as Giggs, Tinie Tempah, N Dubs, Lowkey (to name a few) featuring on my projects and eventually giving a platform on BBC Radio. I believe we did over 6 figures in CD numbers which was massive exposure for me on an underground level. This was before the full impact of online and digital music. I’ve been known to champion many UK artists early on their careers as a tastemaker of the art. I’ve been blessed to have radio shows on BBC Asian Network, BBC 1Xtra and BBC Radio with the Asian Beats show in 2017.
FP: You’ve worked hard to shed light on some incredible talent through “Hype on the Mic” and “Fresh Wave” sessions, no doubt you’ve had some rewarding moments from it. How did you get your first break working in music and radio?
DJ Limelight: Through my work in the mixtape era from 2004 to 2014 I teamed up with Ruthless Records, which was a record shop in East London. With them we managed to create a hub for many UK rappers and grime artists to sell their music in CD format which played a huge part in the foundation of UK Street music and culture.
BBC Asian Network knocked on my door and gave me a Saturday night party show, focusing on hip hop music from the UK, USA and everywhere in between. My strategy with this show was to focus on new talent which resulted in seeing artists like Jay Sean perform a session for me in 2008 which then saw him sign to Cash Money Records. These sessions and radio support for such artists opened doors but also gained me respect from the scene. One of my favourite sessions was when Giggs called me up to do a freestyle – it was 8 minutes of hard sh*t on national radio. That meant a lot. Also, I must mention Young Adz (D Block Europe) and Headie One spitting on my show with OFB.
FP: Asian music has been sampled throughout hip hop, grime and drill, which are some of your favourite tracks to do this and why do you think producers love sampling Asian vibes?
DJ Limelight: There’s been some huge records over the years which have sampled South Asian music including some very huge Bollywood anthems. To choose some of my favourites would be:
Eric Sermon – React
Missy Elliot – Get Ur Freak On
Foxy Brown – Hood Scriptures
Jay-Z – The Bounce
CJ – Whoopty (most recently)
I must mention that one of the most exciting things in the UK right now is the drill scene. For me it’s more about the production levels, quality and creativity. I hear the odd production with heavy South Asian sampling which I believe also brings the world closer through music.
FP: On your shows you play a hugely eclectic range of music. What kind of music do you listen to in your own time and what does it take to get DJ Limelight to listen to your sound?
DJ Limelight: In 2023 I would say afrobeats has taken over many spaces with the organic sounds, lingo and vibes. For me, it’s an exciting time for African music along with what’s happening out in India. Hip hop always has a special place in my heart and in my music collection. Dancehall will always have a big influence on me and is a genre you’d hear in my car daily. I listen to a lot of feel good music and one of my all-time favourite artists to date has to be the legend Vybz Kartel.
I’m also very passionate about new rap talent in the UK and abroad, so I like hearing new talent who bring something different to the table. Hearing a freestyle by Central Cee in 2020, on his Instagram was an example of new talent that has emerged through UK drill with his unique sound and style. I’d say originality, hard beats and an organic sound is essential to me.
FP: You also still enjoy DJ’ing at events such as weddings. What is it about this scene that keeps you excited enough to do them and how does your approach differ to playing for crowds in a stadium?
DJ Limelight: I’m very blessed to be able to play to such a variety of audiences through such a variety of event types. I’m one of the rare UK DJ’s who can perform at a hip hop club night, to a shisha lounge to a Desi wedding all in the same week and give the audience what they want, without losing my essence. It may sound simple and possibly cheesy, but just being able to crowd control and see people having a good time to the music and show I give – that is something that can never get boring for me. A lot of my work comes from the heart, so it always feels personal and special to me.
FP: Now your fashion sense is as big as your personality, how would you describe your styling as well as your taste in footwear? We know you love your Jordans, what is it about these shoes that made you feel to collect them?
DJ Limelight: My fashion sense is again, something very personal and special to me. I thrive off colours and unique designs. I tend to stay away from common trends as I’m a strong believer that if you make an effort with your appearance, you’ll stand out which can also create opportunities. First impressions always count.
Growing up I always had love at home, but I couldn’t afford a pair of Nikes until I was 18. And I always wanted Jordans. I grew up on hip hop and Jordans was and still is a big part of the culture. Now times are good for me, I also like collecting things, so sneakers are something I really enjoy collecting. I love the feeling of opening a shoe box for the first time and admiring the craftsmanship of a brand-new shoe.
Jordans for me have a story and is from an icon, Michael Jordan. Jordan 4’s are my all-time favourites with 3’s coming in second on my list. The retro selection is iconic and have some elite colour ways. I don’t think my collection will ever end and I can’t wait for the next release.