The legendary hip-hop DJ talks superheroes, swags, and weighs in on Kanye vs Taylor
Consensus here is that you’ve become a national treasure. Does that make you untouchable?
Oh man, I think I’m totally touchable. Entirely, entirely, entirely, man. We’re still accountable, man. There’s more important things out there than me, man. I’ve just been blessed to have done what I've done.
You grew up in East Anglia. Are there any massive Norwich clubs you’d recommend?
I left Norwich when I was 17. I’m not gonna lie, in those days you could easily get into a club. There wasn’t this strict ID thing that there is now. There was a club called Scamps. Just to be quite honest with you, I had the bumfluff. I used to borrow my mum’s mascara to put under my little bumfluff moustache to make me look older.
Did the mascara make the girls come running?
Luckily not because, say I had got lucky and I kissed a girl, she would have ended up with mascara all over her face. I tell you it’s really weird, that, because I’ve never told anyone that story in my friggin’ life.
Dizzee Rascal said recently that Ali G was based on you. What’s your version of events?
All right. On the super real, Sacha Baron Cohen said to me he based it on the callers that we used to have on my show when I was on Radio 1. We used to have a lot of callers phoning up and some of them sounded crazy, I’m not gonna lie. But then obviously after I got shot and I was a bit more newsworthy, it was a better story if he said it was based on me.
Has the comparison annoyed you?
It hasn’t even crossed my conscience. I’m the realest in the game, man. I’d rather be based on Ali G than Bruno.
And how did being shot change things for you?
Looking back on it now, not trying to be flippant or anything, it put me on the front page of the newspapers. So I think it was definitely a shot in the arm for my PR. I would probably pay to have it done again.
You’d recommend it then?
I think at the time, it won. But it’s not a joking matter, man. They were aiming at my head. The guy in the back seat had his kneecap blown off. I’m blessed, man. It just made me stronger.
What do you think is the best club for rap or hip-hop in the UK?
Oh man. There’s not a consistent night which is winning out there. I think there are very good clubs in Birmingham. Mist has really great nights. There’s great student nights in Coventry at a place called Empire. In London it’s very hit-and-miss. I regularly run down to something called Curve Bar in Lewisham but that’s just a local hood spot.
Why do you think the club scene these days isn’t as eccentric as in your day?
There’s no urban nights in the West End. The police and local licensing are really fighting down anything urban happening out there. The local West End police won’t let me DJ in the West End; they won’t let me DJ in Croydon. As a result a lot of young people have nowhere to go. When I was growing up I used to go to different clubs all the time. People aren’t going out like they used to. I think it’s a terrible thing, man. London is definitely losing part of its swag.
What do you make of Drake?
I think he’s the number one artist in the world, man. I think he’s the greatest hip-hop artist of our time. He’s showing love to the UK scene. He makes music that girls just lose their mind to.
Whose side are you on in the Kanye/Taylor Swift controversy?
I think what is so perfect about that is that you can just see through the bullshit, man. She just talks at length, co-signing it, saying how flattered she is. She’s hypocritical for that. I think he put that one to bed, man. Put her to bed. And good for him, man. That hypocrisy I’ve seen so much of; it’s just good when it gets exposed. I think we won that. He smashed that.
And do you rate The Life of Pablo?
I love the album. I’m not gonna lie, that album’s got really emotional tracks on there. From that album came that Panda joint by Desiigner. That’s been the biggest record of the year. Father Stretch My Hands, Part 1 is an emotional record. When you throw that on in a club, people lose their mind. But don’t get me wrong, I’ve never owned a pair of Jeezys – Yeezys, whatever they’re called. If you’re not wearing the rest of the outfit, you look like you’re a shepherd or something.
What is your house like?
I’ve got massive speakers, brother. I’ve got speakers which go from the floor to the ceiling. We are pretty serious in this game, man. We live this life.
And is it true that you have sound effects that play when you come through your front door?
Every superhero must have some theme music. When the big dog hits the crib, baby, yeah, the bomb should drop and some horns should ring off. It’s normally the bomb dropping with ‘WESTWOOD’. I live on my own but I still like to know, just in case I put my slippers on and forget who I really am.
Tim Westwood appears at Hospitality in the Park on 24 September. Hospitaltyinthepark.london