DJ Semtex

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DJ Semtex
DJ Semtex at Reading Festival, 2017
Background information
Born22 November 1974
Manchester, England
GenresHip Hop,
UK Rap
Associated actsDrake,
J Hus,
Kanye West,
Dizzee Rascal

DJ Semtex (born John Fairbanks; 1974) is an English DJ, author, radio DJ and presenter of Spotify's Who We Be podcast. Between 2002 and 2018 he was presenter for BBC Radio 1Xtra's weekly hip-hop show.


DJ Semtex is a DJ, broadcaster and author with an interest in hip hop culture. He began by promoting parties in Manchester while playing out at the city's music venues such as The Haçienda.

Due to complications from lymphangioma at the age of 16, he had an arm amputated. He did not confirm this until his 2016 autobiography and previously refused to answer questions on the subject.[1]

He worked as a selector throughout the 2000s. He was Dizzee Rascal's official tour DJ in 2008, a role in which he also performed video DJing and scratching with his mouth.

DJ Semtex is also an interviewer.[2] He interviewed J. Cole shortly before the release his debut album in 2010, DJ Khaled at his L.A. home in 2017, and conducted the only UK interview with Skepta upon the release of his album Konnichiwa.[3] In 2009, Drake's first UK interview was with DJ Semtex, Drake had a follow-up interview with DJ Semtex that went viral and was covered by Rolling Stone,[4] Billboard[5] and The New Yorker.[6] When Drake launched his ‘More Life’ project in London in early 2017, he discussed it with DJ Semtex.

His debut offering as an author, Hip Hop Raised Me, was well received, receiving co-signs from Drake, Chance The Rapper, Ghostface Killah, and Redman. It has been translated into French, German and Italian.

Chuck D has said "DJ Semtex is a "generator of generations."[7]


In 2002 DJ Semtex began hosting a Friday night show (21:00 to 23:00) on 1Xtra.[8]

In 2018 DJ Semtex announced he was leaving 1Xtra after 15 years working for the station.[9]


Launching in early 2018, Semtex is the host of Spotify's bi-weekly Who We Be podcast. The show aims to highlighting new rap and grime from the UK, including interviews with musicians.

Past guests include Giggs, Michael Dapaah, Bugzy Malone, Sneakbo, and Jae 5.


  1. ^ Oke, Tobi (11 October 2016). "A Lesson In Hip-Hop With DJ Semtex". Complex. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  2. ^ Collins, Hattie (31 January 2009). "Hattie Collins on Wale and DJ Semtex's battle on the micro-blog". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  3. ^ "Skepta's Top 5 MCs and Everything Else We Learned from His Rare Filmed Interview with DJ Semtex". Noisey. 12 May 2016. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  4. ^ "Drake's 'More Life' Playlist Is Redefining Borders of Blackness in Pop". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  5. ^ "Drake Says His Grammy Wins For 'Hotline Bling' Feel Weird Because 'It's Not a Rap Song'". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  6. ^ Battan, Carrie (2017-03-21). "Drake's Musical Wanderlust on "More Life"". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  7. ^ "A Lesson In Hip-Hop With DJ Semtex". Complex. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  8. ^ Yates, Kieran (18 August 2017). "'Most stations wouldn't play half our playlist': 15 years of 1Xtra". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  9. ^

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