Straight Outta Lowestoft… bishop son made £10m playing ‘gangsta rap’ glorifying guns and violence

The son of an Anglican bishop, British DJ Tim ‘Big Dawg’ Westwood couldn’t have been a more unlikely pioneering champion of hip-hop music.

Middle-class and privately educated, he was – critics noted dryly – Straight Outta Lowestoft in Suffolk, where the only ‘hood’ he would have been familiar with growing up was the one on his anorak.

But just as his late father, the former Bishop of Peterborough, was a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day slot, so too did his son become a BBC radio fixture for almost 20 years as the ‘voice of hip-hop’.

That, though, was where the similarities ended.

British DJ Tim ¿Big Dawg¿ (pictured back, centre), reported to be worth around £10million, he can command £10,000 for a gig and has sold more than two million copies of his compilation albums with a YouTube channel boasting more than 1.3 million subscribers, is being accused of secual misconduct.  His father was an Anglican bishop

British DJ Tim ‘Big Dawg’ (pictured back, centre), reported to be worth around £10million, he can command £10,000 for a gig and has sold more than two million copies of his compilation albums with a YouTube channel boasting more than 1.3 million subscribers, is being accused of secual misconduct. His father was an Anglican bishop

While the Rt Rev Bill Westwood, who died in 1999 aged 73, sought to inspire listeners with spiritual sermons, Westwood junior would bring them instead the violent lyrics of gangsta culture.

Today, the gulf between father and son seems even wider with accusations of sexual misconduct by multiple women.

Three have accused the DJ of opportunistic and predatory sexual behavior, while four others allege they were groped by him at events.

Westwood has strenuously denied all the allegations, with a spokesman saying they were completely false and denied in their entirety.

Over the years Westwood’s passion for hip-hop would see him transform from a gangly, nerdy, moustachioed pirate radio jock into an edgy, award-winning – if somewhat controversial – figure, dressed in urban streetwear as he promoted a new wave of stars.

Adopting the patois of his idols, his radio shows were peppered with phrases such as ‘the bomb’s about to go off, baby’ and ‘kick it to the curb, man’.

Though he has always insisted this persona was entirely genuine, Westwood’s enthusiastic use of pseudo-Jamaican slang inspired Sacha Baron Cohen’s spoof character, tracksuit-wearing Ali G.

‘Once I found out he was actually the son of a bishop, it became even more absurd. He was so keen to be presented as a gangsta,’ Baron Cohen said of his muse.

The Right Reverend William John Westwood, Bishop of Edmonton, and regular Radio Four Broadcaster who died in 1999 aged 73, is pictured outside Church House.  Today, the gulf between father and son seems even wider with accusations of sexual misconduct

The Right Reverend William John Westwood, Bishop of Edmonton, and regular Radio Four Broadcaster who died in 1999 aged 73, is pictured outside Church House. Today, the gulf between father and son seems even wider with accusations of sexual misconduct

As for Westwood, now aged 64, he has always declared himself mystified by accusations that he was trying to be something he wasn’t.

‘I came from a good home,’ he once said in an interview. ‘I never reacted against it. I loved my dad. He taught me dignity and respect. I’m a white guy, I’m not aspiring to be anything other than who I am.

As for his fans in the clubs, and the black rap stars he promoted, he insisted they didn’t care about his background.

‘Honestly, baby, I get love out there, pure and simple,’ was his response.

Certainly, despite the mockery, he was the one laughing all the way to the bank. Reported to be worth around £10million, he can command £10,000 for a gig and has sold more than two million copies of his compilation albums. His YouTube channel has more than 1.3million subscribers.

His passion for the emerging US hip-hop scene of the early 80s began when Westwood worked as a bottle collector and roadie in clubs in London’s West End, graduating to become an apprentice DJ. He specialized in jazz funk until he heard one of the first rap records, and was hooked.

In 1982, he started DJing for a pirate radio station based in Peckham. From there, he moved to Kiss FM and then Capital before the BBC came calling in 1994, cementing his status as the country’s most influential hip-hop player.

He reportedly revealed in creating an anarchic atmosphere, hiring a personal chef and dotting the studio with champagne bottles.

‘Newsreaders would have to come in and, like, read the news with people sputtering on blunts [cannabis cigars] all around them,’ said Westwood.

The clean-living son of a clergyman, he did not drink or take drugs himself. By the time Westwood was axed from the Radio 1 Rap Show in 2013, aged 55, more serious questions were being asked about his devotion to a music culture which increasingly glorified guns, gang violence and misogyny.

He still bears the scar from a bullet wound to his arm after he was the victim of a 1999 drive-by shooting. He would later say the attempted assassination was carried out by south London gang members who were trying to extort money from him.

The front door of his one-bedroom Fulham flat, where Westwood – unmarried and childless – has lived for more than 30 years, is said to be reinforced by a metal bar as a security measure, a legacy of that gangland attempt on his life.

Veteran hip hop DJ and radio presenter Tim Westwood started DJing for a pirate radio station based in Peckham.  From there, he moved to Kiss FM and then Capital before the BBC came calling in 1994, cementing his status as the country¿s most influential hip-hop player.  He said he rejects all allegations of wrongdoing after he was accused of sexual misconduct and predatory behavior by several women

Veteran hip hop DJ and radio presenter Tim Westwood started DJing for a pirate radio station based in Peckham. From there, he moved to Kiss FM and then Capital before the BBC came calling in 1994, cementing his status as the country’s most influential hip-hop player. He said he rejects all allegations of wrongdoing after he was accused of sexual misconduct and predatory behavior by several women

Westwood has said of the attack: ‘Before the shooting, the only people who knew me were the hip-hop crowd. But the truth is that was real gangster s***. It made me big.’

In 2018 Westwood was heavily criticized for making money from YouTube adverts after a leaked Metropolitan Police file cited 32 of his videos as potentially inciting violence. The DJ then deleted clips and posts on social media linked to ‘drill’ – the notorious genre blamed for glamorizing violence.

A spokesman for Westwood said at the time: ‘We aim and hope to provide opportunities and a positive path…we do not support or condone gangs. Any violence is obviously a concern.’

However a year later Westwood made headlines again when – surrounded by members of a street gang – he posted a new drill rap session featuring lyrics boasting about gangland murders.

Then, he posed with a toy gun champagne holder hours after a gang member stabbed Siddique Kamara – who’d previously appeared with the DJ in a clip on his channel – to death in London in what was described as a feud between drill rivals.

As for Westwood’s private life, he insisted in 2017 that there was nothing to excite any interest beyond his love of hip-hop. Love, marriage or children would be, he maintained, a distraction from his real passion: music.

That didn’t mean, apparently, a monk-like existence, however. Fans, may recall a 2018 Instagram post in which, holding up a credit card, Westwood gave a glimpse of his past relationships. ‘My sugar daddy days are over,’ he declared. I’m tired of buying… nails, shoes, bags, rent. I need an independent woman.’

.

Leave a Comment