The DJ, producer and face of the iconic Soul II Soul movement – Jazzie B – has launched his clothing line The Classics Collection at Harvey Nichols this month.
The Leeds store’s first floor became a reinvention of Soul II Soul’s Camden clothes store (in the 80s and 90s) on Thursday evening, with retro posters and vinyl trinkets from the group’s archive. The loveable funk-master’s infamous voice richly filled the room as he cracked jokes and he was very approachable in-between his DJ set, laughing with fans and taking photos.
Lloyd Bradley, author of Bass Culture was on hand to host a Q & A session. He began by noting the super-producer’s backwards route of beginning his career with a fashion-line and then moving in to music.
The Funki Dred logo which dons the clothes is drawn by illustrator Derek Yates – and the original T-shirts were sold as the group began gaining momentum. Jazzie B explained that the idea behind Funki Dred (and Soul II Soul) was the community idea being inclusive and affirming a British identity.
In connection with that – comics – which were always a part of the Soul II Soul brand were also given out during the evening. Jazzie said: “The idea was we came from a planet called Ard, and we were sent to the earth as pleasure-givers, to put on parties and get into the funk.“
He continued about the group’s mission: “We wanted to have the biggest sound-system in the world with our own followers that were inclusive, not exclusive – because growing up at that time (60s and 70s), we didn’t have a group to connect with. The mods didn’t want to know us, nor did the teddy boys. We were only accepted by the skinheads and punks.”
He set-up the story about the humble beginnings of the Soul II Soul style of life which begun around 25 years ago – how his technicality as a sound-man mixed with his street-wise ways landed him a record contract.
And Jazzie B was sincere in his affirmation of Britain being a land of opportunity and his appreciation of Harvey Nichols – who being a window of that mentality- would celebrate Soul II Soul’s history and impact.