From Mobb Deep to Big Mike, the Radio 1 broadcaster breaks down his most meaningful music.
More than a mere DJ, Mistajam is an arbiter, gatekeeper, and connoisseur. From his bass-focused 1xtra show - which hosts his now-legendary 60 Minutes series - to his new slot on primetime Radio 1 where he's covering Annie Mac's maternity leave, the Nottingham disk-spinner is known for breaking new music, debuting the best in grime, rap, electronic or R&B; Jam is a DJ whose taste you can truly trust.
About to head out on tour, the BBC broadcaster will be joined by the likes of Stormzy, P-Money, TCTS and MJ Cole as 'JamPacked' takes over speakers from XOYO to Creamfields. We asked Jam to talk us through the tracks that have been key in the making of him as a DJ…
What was the very first record you bought?
I can actually remember being three-years-old and getting my Uncle to take me to WHSmith in Arnold, Nottingham to buy Nu Shooz's I Can't Wait because I'd seen his copy and loved the picture on the cover. Plus it was, and still is, an absolute tune so that helps!
And the last?
I'm still spending far too much money on vinyl so if there's not at least two deliveries from Discogs arriving at my house each week then something is wrong. That said, I had pre-ordered the new Mallory Knox album from their site a while ago so when that arrived a couple of weeks ago that was a lovely surprise.
What was the first track you played on air for your new Radio 1 slot, and why did you choose it?
It was Circa Waves, Wake Up. When the news was broken about me covering the 7pm Radio 1 slot, I got a lot of feedback that people thought I wouldn't be capable of playing guitar music. I guess people underestimated just how much I love all kinds of music. Wake Up served two purposes - it has an undeniable energy to it that just feels epic and it was a nice early middle finger to those doubters.
Which track transports you back to growing up on the mean streets of Nottingham?
Mobb Deep, Shook Ones. It will always remind me of going to Hyson Green Boys Club and learning how to DJ. I was in a youth sound system back then and when we had a massive falling out and I went to take my records back, but this was the only one I managed to salvage.
You're known for your excellent taste in music and playing a big part in breaking new acts. Who are you most excited about for 2017?
It's a cop out but anyone I'm playing on the shows can broadly get that title! I can't play music I don't like and there's so much good stuff about at the moment that I don't want to do anybody a disservice.
Who are you most proud of backing from day one?
There are a lot of them who forget the support I gave them right at the very start of their career, but Stormzy never forgets. I gave him his first national radio play and his first radio interview that he swore all over. Luckily it was pre-recorded and we could edit it but he's come a very long way since then and really set a path for many others to follow.
What track did you choose to be your wedding song?
Adele's Make You Feel My Love. It was a joint decision between the wife and I. Cheesy as fuck but if you can't be cheesy at your wedding and get away with it, when else can you? As Stormzy said "Rudeboy you're never too big for Adele"
Which track do you never tire of hearing?
Bob Marley, One Love. I end every festival set with it and lord knows, we need the sentiment of those lyrics these days more than ever.
What's your favourite lyric of all time?
The entire lyric to Armand Van Helden's You Don't Know Me. Pretty much my life in a song!
What is your kid's favourite song at the moment?
My kids are pretty pop. My four-year-old son is obsessed with Rag N' Bone Man's Human. He sings it every day. My six-year-old daughter on the other hand is a Little Mix fan. The song MNEK wrote for them, Touch is her current go-to.
Which track is guaranteed to revive a flagging dancefloor?
Depends on the kind of rave. If it's a festival or somewhere where people appreciate grime then its RBX's Rhythm & Gash or Solo 45's Feed Em To The Lions although they're both pretty rinsed they still seem to work. If it's an older or mixed crowd, anything Prince will rescue any situation. I still can't believe he's gone…
What's the weirdest experience you've had DJing?
I was playing a random indoor festival at 3am and halfway through my set a load of dancers came out dressed as nuns with monkey masks on and proceeded to set up a tea party. However instead of tea, they drank neat vodka. Then they simulated sex with each other on stage. I had to check to make sure I wasn't having a nightmare.
The future sounds like...
My radio show!
Mistajam curates the first JamPacked of 2017 at XOYO this Thursday.
Text Hattie Collins