Tim Westwood

Tim Westwood (born 3 October 1957 in Lowestoft, Suffolk) is a British radio DJ, long specialising in hip hop and related styles, who was a colleague of John Peel on BBC Radio 1 from 1994 to 2004. He is often referred to by other DJs and artists appearing on his shows simply as Westwood. He presented the UK version of the MTV show Pimp My Ride. In 2013, Westwood left BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 1Xtra after nearly twenty years and returned to Capital Radio's sister station Capital Xtra.

During his career Westwood has DJed for many radio stations, including the newly formed radio stations Kiss FM (which he co-owned) and LWR in the 1980s, followed by mainstream station Capital FM (from 1987). In December 1994, following a shake up of Radio 1 by the then chief executive Matthew Bannister, he was given the new national Radio 1 Rap Show. He was the Radio 1 Rap Show's first presenter.

Links To Peel

On the surface, Westwood and Peel could appear to have had a lot in common: both men had been born to privileged, old-establishment backgrounds - Westwood was famously the son of one of the few Church of England bishops still to have supported Margaret Thatcher by the mid-1980s - and both rejected the trappings of such a world.  Both had connections to East Anglia, though in Westwood's case he rarely returned after having been brought up there, whereas Peel chose to live there later in life.  Peel had been one of the few national DJs (and indeed sometimes the only one) to have championed hip-hop during Westwood's long apprenticeship on London pirate stations and then on Capital FM, which at the time broadcast in the London area only, and it was clear when Westwood first arrived at Radio 1 that his arrival on national radio was part of a culture shift at the station which Peel welcomed and supported.


Peel's Friday night show preceded Westwood's show in 1995 and early 1996.  On 23 February 1996 Peel linked into Westwood by playing a German-language hip-hop track, which might have been a subtle and codified message suggesting that Westwood was as much part of an "Anglosphere Only Movement" - something Peel strongly opposed - as, say, Tony Blackburn (to whom Westwood has some interesting parallels which the latter's fans would never have accepted or recognised as such).  Moreover, Peel's musical excitement at hip-hop in the 1980s had always been tempered by a distaste for some of its more sexist lyrics, and as the genre became more commercial and mainstream in the 1990s and early 2000s, with lyrics both increasingly sexist and increasingly acquisitive in a manner which alienated Peel but seemed to excite Westwood, Peel showed little interest in these styles, which (much to the chagrin of readers of Hip Hop Connection magazine in the late 1990s) came to dominate Westwood's playlists, while Westwood seemed to regard the more underground and alternative styles of hip-hop which Peel continued to support as irrelevant and too "indie". 


By the time of Peel's death, Westwood - possibly rattled by Sacha Baron Cohen's portrayal of "Ali G" who was widely considered to have been based on him - had reinvented himself as a much more egotistical and self-centred character who dominated his shows, compared to the relatively understated, letting-the-music-do-the-talking approach he had adopted when he first joined Radio 1, and this is likely to have alienated Peel considerably.  With the increasingly over the top Westwood invoking the Social Darwinist philosophy which had come to dominate mainstream hip-hop, openly using phrases such as "every man for himself" on the air, Peel is likely to have seen Westwood (see above) as having far more in common with the Right-leaning egos who dominated 1980s Radio 1 than Westwood would have seen himself as or wanted to believe that he was, and by the time of Peel's death in 2004 (Westwood remained on Radio 1 for a further nine years before joining the new national digital station Capital Xtra in 2013) the two rebel sons of the English establishment seemed increasingly far removed from each other and at odds socially and culturally.  At the end of Peel's life he was showing an interest in the newly-emergent grime style which Westwood did not seem particularly enthused by at the time, though he would present a Sunday-night 1Xtra show devoted to it from 2007-09, after Peel's death.

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