Mista Brown, Tighten Up London

I remember when first Tim P mentioned he was putting a night on, something like a better version of 100% Dynamite, right in the heart of London’s Chinatown….. Many moons have passed since then 😉

Although I wasn’t able to attend the very first one, I made sure I check one out in May last year. I was impressed big time by the quality of the tunes played and the overall “sound”; too many a times I’ve heard djs playing their best records regardless the what was happening on the dancefloor. A dj is not a show off! I was also lucky enough to catch Jonah (hope it’s spelt correctly) playing some killer rocksteady tunes…

So I thought why not interview them? Well, the spokesman Mistah Brown came forward with the following answers!
– BTW who’s your toaster?? He totally killled it when chatting over What a fire!

That’ll probably be Champion from 80’s Soundsystem – Jamdown Rockers. He has his moments – see below…

– Introduce yourselves

They call me Mistah Brown. I’m co-founder of Tighten Up alongside Tim P.

– How did you first got involved with reggae?

I grew up with Reggae all around me. Tho my family hail from Antigua – Reggae was always the main feature at my uncle’s saturday blues parties or domino gatherings. I’m an old man so remember clearly when “Two Sevens Clashed” and Punk and Reggae came together in the fight against bigotry and ignorance back in the day and when Virgin were putting out quality Jamaican music aimed squarely at the rebelious youth market and when 2-Tone smashed it’s way into the national conciousness. I spent the late 70’s – early 80’s listening (and taping) David Rodigan’s “Roots Rockers” show on Capital Radio on saturday nites and Tony Williams’ on Radio London on Sunday afternoons. Reggae became the soundtrack to my youth and remains the music i’m most emotionally tied to now. That said, I’m pretty much stuck in the past – always around 20 years behind everyone else. When I was a kid I was really into Studio One – now I’m into my 40’s (just!) I’m finally getting my head round Digital Dancehall!!! I always get there in the end tho…

– A bit of background on Tighten Up, how it started, music policy, guests.

We started Tighten Up cos no-one was quite doing Reggae the way we wanted to do it or playing the music we thought should be getting heard. We started off mixing up Reggae, Ska, Rocksteady and 80’s Dancehall with Funk and Latin intially but realised quickly that this meant we had to make too many compromises as we’d never really reach an audience that truly loved Jamaican music. We didn’t want to be one of the many 100% Dynamite imitators – watering down our content for people who really don’t even like Reggae – so we moved instead to a 100% Jamaican playlist and never looked back. Our guests are a combination of mates, selectors & journalists we’ve admired for years as well as those who’ve approached us because of the nite’s reputation. My biggest thrill was getting home to find that I’d missed calls from Ranking Joe and Clive Chin!!! These people are legends to us so the fact that they even know who we are, let alone wanna work with us is amazing.

– How the Tighten Up idea was born

Tighten Up was born when, hundreds of miles apart, probably sometime in the 1970’s, me and Tim heard the first Reggae tune that made us go “Blimey! What was that!?!” For me it was probably Niney’s “Blood & Fire”. That tune still scares the crap outta me like I’m still 5 years old!!!

– Your best reggae gig, whether behind the decks, or at a concert/venue.

We played Paris a couple of years ago which was brilliant – rewinds on practically every tune – but the most electric gig we did, for me, was Dublin with Worries Outernational back in Oct last year! Every MC in the house grabbed the mic for a turn on the “Never Let Go” riddim (aka “The Answer”)!!! I swear, as I was doing the mixdown, every single punter in the place was pogo-ing with us as our MC Champion (formerly of Jamdown Rockers Soundsystem) whipped the crowd into a frenzy with one of his classic “all join in” lyrics. It was like being in a punk band or something – but with better music!

– Your Top10 records

(see following post)

– The most influential Reggae Artist

Probably Bob Marley – however for me Bob Andy and Dennis Brown are phenomenally important artists too. Plus you can’t argue with the body of work produced by people like Lee Perry and Coxsone Dodd!

– Future projects?

To keep on keepin’ on. We’ve been talking about touring Japan for years and it may happen yet…


  1. Pingback: uncarved.org blog » Blog Archive » Tighten Up RIP: 1999-2008

Leave a Comment