DJ Semtex

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DJ Semtex
DJ Semtex - Ilosaarirock 2009.jpg
DJ Semtex at the 2009 Ilosaarirock festival.[1]
Background information
Born Manchester, England
Genres Hip Hop,
Occupation(s) DJ,
Marketing consultant
Labels Def Jam UK,
Semtex Media
Associated acts Dizzee Rascal,
Sway DaSafo,
Mr Hudson,
Kanye West

DJ Semtex (born 1974 as John Fairbanks) is an English disc jockey and presenter for BBC Radio 1Xtra digital radio station, presenting the flagship hip-hop show, Friday nights from 22:00 to 01:00.


DJ Semtex was born in Manchester as John Fairbanks.[2]

DJ Semtex is notable for having one arm after contracting Lymphangioma and undergoing amputation as a sixteen year old.[3] Semtex began his career in the music industry in 1992, hosting weekly pirate radio shows in Manchester and performing at clubs such as the Haçienda and Home. During this time he also DJed for De la Soul when they performed in Manchester, and hosted Wyclef’s Carnival afterparty in London. He also produced hip-hop mixes for BBC Radio 1’s Trevor Nelson, Tim Westwood and various DJs on Galaxy FM between 1996 and 1998.

His proficiency at producing and distributing hip-hop mixtapes internationally led to Semtex being commissioned to produce promotional mixtapes for major labels such as Sony, Universal, Loud Records, and Def Jam Recordings.

After completing his degree at Manchester Metropolitan University, Semtex moved to London, and was employed by Sony Music to set up their Street Team in 1998.

Moving to London helped Semtex to become one of the UK’s premier hip-hop deejays and in subsequent years he helped organising a Lauryn Hill after party, DJd on the MTV float at Notting Hill Carnival, and opened shows for Dead Prez, Wyclef, Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch and Asher Roth, among others.

In 2001, Semtex established the Urban department for Def Jam UK, and joined BBC Radio 1Xtra, the UK’s first national black music station as a hip-hop DJ. On behalf of the station he has broadcast shows live from New York, Miami, Philadelphia, Puerto Rico, backstage at Live8 and the Bahamas. Past guests on his show have included 50 Cent, Kanye West, the Game, P.Diddy, Busta Rhymes, Dizzee Rascal, Nas, LL Cool J, Lil’ Jon, the Streets, Jay-Z, Eminem, Kano, Ludacris, Ja Rule, Wu-Tang Clan, Sway, Roots Manuva and others.

In 2002 Semtex became an A&R official at Def Jam UK. His first signing was Fatman Scoop, whose debut single, Be Faithful, hit the No.1 in the UK charts and around Europe.

Semtex continues to DJ at high profile engagements such as the Phat Farm UMF party for Russell Simmons, Kanye West's UK tour, DMX, Nas and Nelly on their UK tours and is also Dizzee Rascal's official tour DJ. Semtex also provided the scratches on Dizzee Rascal's track "Stand Up Tall" and co-produced the "Piece Keeper" mix CD series with Dizzee.

His 2006 release was called "Grime Wave".[4]

On 22 September 2014, Semtex along with Lethal Bizzle, DJ Target, and A.Dot, took part in a special BBC iPlayer version of the classic quiz show Mastermind titled Hip Hop Mastermind, presented by host John Humphrys, which he went on to win.[5]

In 2016, Semtex released his book, Hip Hop Raised Me, an overview of the genre published by Thames and Hudson, with a foreword by hip hop legend Chuck D.[6]


Since 2002 Semtex has hosted a Friday night show (22:00–01:00) on 1Xtra, the UK‘s first national urban music station.[7]


  1. ^ "Bands", Ilosaarirock, 23 April 2009.
  2. ^ Seamus Quinn, "Born and bred Mancunian DJ Semtex at Manchester Academy this weekend for two-day youth music workshop", Manchester Evening News, 25 September 2014.
  3. ^ SBTV. "Behind the Music: DJ Semtax". SBTV. SBTV. Retrieved 9 October 2016. 
  4. ^ "Grim Wave, Compiled & Mixed by DJ Semtex". 9 May 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2006. 
  5. ^ "BBC Radio 1Xtra - Hip Hop Mastermind". BBC Radio 1Xtra. 22 September 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  6. ^ DJ Semtex (2016). Hip Hop Raised Me. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 9780500518946. 
  7. ^ "Semtex, The Hip Hop Show". BBC iXtra. 9 May 2008. Retrieved 23 March 2008. 

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