As Target enters the arranged rendezvous location, a smoke filled living room in an East London block of flats, he looks every inch the street star in a crisp tracksuit that matches his never-worn-before Adidas Decades colour for colour. Fresh off a plane from Germany where he had a booking for the Gangstarr After party (which they never made it to but that wasn’t their fault) he’s armed with a laptop under one arm and a dangerous looking KFC under the other.
“I’m going to Miami in two days and I’ve still got to drop off all these new records, make sure the mixtapes in all the shops…”
Like his music, Target’s attitude immediately stands out – there’s no messing, the man’s on it and we ain’t got no time to waste.
Darren Joseph, 24, aka DJ Target, has been better known in the past for his role in the Pay As U Go Cartel (PAUG). The Cartel’s only mainstream release, Champagne Dance, produced by Geeneus and Target, stormed the charts at no. 12 in 2002. While PAUG remain in essence and their album sits unreleased on a hard drive, Target, like the other members, has continued to DJ up and down the country, started a record label, and ventured into his own musical territory.
And now he’s emerging as one of the UK’s more innovative producers. By blending the local grimey garage influence with that of stateside hip hop, Target has joined a new wave of producers pushing through fresh street music and talent.
If you need proof then check out the new Aim High Mixtape. A showcase of freestyles and forthcoming tracks from Targets label (Aim High incase you didn’t gettit), it also features a couple of exclusive Danny Weed beats and a measure from TNT. Sound wise it’s experimental, accessible, original and ultimately, comes highly recommended, much like the labels vinyl releases.
Lyrical aid, both bashment and rap, is primarily from Targets home turf, Bow E3, and surrounding postcodes; D Double E & Footsie, Roll Deep, Maihem, J2K, Riko, Crazy Titch, Maxwell D, OT Crew, Gods Gift and Wolfpack among those juggling mic duties.
“I just needed to get my stuff out there. You can’t depend on other people to do it for you. That’s why I’m by myself doing the label, no one can piss me off. I don’t have time for all that.”
Currently available from the label are Pick Yourself Up (a standout track produced by Target and Roll Deep’s Danny Weed, snapped up by Wiley for his album), Poltergeist/Runaway, Chosen One feat Riko and the Poltergeist Remix by Terror Danger. The forthcoming schedule and potential label swaps with like-minded peers, although not 100% confirmed, look equally speaker-shaking.
Still of equal significance to the mixtape and the label in getting out fresh cuts though, is pirate radio. It was back in the summer of 1994, that a group of boys, four up and coming fifteen years old jungle DJ’s - Target, alongside school friends Slimzee, Geeneus and Wiley, became the Rinse 100.3 FM forefathers. While at the beginning the signal only reached the end of their road, Rinse is now undeniably one of the most radical and necessary pirates on the dial. Target also remains, giving listeners in London and those that stream Rinse over the stations website a multi-sounding dose of dubplates and new releases on a Saturday night and Wednesday afternoon.
“Pirate’s will always be important because we don’t get support from anywhere else on the FM dial. People had to take matters into their own hands.”
We hear that.
Yet with PAUG unofficially on a back burner, there’s been added speculation of late that Target’s the newest member of Wiley’s Roll Deep Crew. But don’t get excited, It’s not true.
“PAUG have done a lot, but most crews are falling apart these days. I do and I don’t care, you can never predict the future of it but right now everyone’ on their own thing. There’s just more future in some artists than others. PAUG, Roll Deep, we’re all just mates. Some of us would have liked the crews to become one, others wouldn’t. Simple.”
However he is producing for the Roll Deep album, expected to land either this year or next, now signed to Relentless Records, as well as continuing a series of collaborations with Danny Weed.
Also on the cards is the second mixtape installment, a variety of other R&B, hip hop and bashment projects, with vocalists including Pay As U Go MC’s Riko and Gods Gift, vocalists Hannah and Jackie, Roll Deep, JP (Ignorants), and Nio.
“We can all live as we are but we want to live the good life…I’m more for melodies, I believe in real music. You gotta aim high that’s why the top of where I see myself going is the world.”
Enjoy the ride.
Words: Chantelle Fiddy
A version of this article appeared in Touch magazine 2004.