|Pioneering - white rasta|
Hotly tipped DJ duo, Mark Damian - pioneers of the 'white rasta' sound - have been arrested at the beat laboratory they share in Brixton, south London, after neighbours reported hearing 'disturbing sounds'. It's been long-rumoured that Mark Damian's macho swagger is a carefully crafted image that hides a tempestuous love affair, and insiders claim that the most recent disturbance is simply the latest in a recurring drama. 'They're passionate - about their music and each other' claims a local Brixton grime artist who asked to remain anonymous. 'Unfortunately, I think the stress they're both under has put a serious strain on their professional and personal relationships'.
Officers first at the scene described a 'terrific racket', and called back-up before entering. 'They couldn't hear us knocking' said Constable Don Dante, 'so we had to break the door down. It was heavy wood and it took us around 20 minutes, and the whole time we had to put up with this awful sound'. However, Sergeant John Humphries dismisses the notion that the police struggled to control the situation. 'Some of the younger lads were a bit tense, but it was just a bit of Peter Gabriel'. He chuckles, 'personally, I don't mind listening to 'So' over and over again, but for the guys who were expecting to hear old Bob Marley Peel sessions bursting from the stereo it was bewildering'.
Upon entering, officers found the place in disarray. A semi-nude Mark screamed 'I'm the workhorse in this partnership!' when he caught sight of the police, while a 'very stoned' Damian giggled and changed the record to Chris De Burgh's 'The Getaway' before he was disarmed and handcuffed by starstruck young beat cops. Mark was harder to pin down, though he reportedly enjoyed the tussle with the well-trained officers.
|'Semi nude' - Mark|
PR guru Max Clifford issued a brief, baffling statement on behalf of his clients. 'Mark Damian battle it out on Jah's spiritual plane, old versus new, young versus old, Junior vs Jr Junior. Think Yoda and Luke. Old wisdom love up-to-date dancehall; young gun represent old school roots and reggae. Who wins? Jah will decide'.
|'Very stoned' - Damian|
In search of a new Zion
Intense competition has always been at the heart of hip hop, a musical genre dominated by quick-thinking lyrical 'MCs' and DJs who create sonic soundscapes using a more scientific approach. Mark Damian's genius, commentators claim, is that they're polar opposites. Mark, 31 - real name Jardine McCafferty - is the trendspotter who saw an opportunity for a white, greying rasta to bring on-trend ragga and bashment to new audiences. He famously discovered Damian, 30 - real name Alexander Harniess - in a ramshackle rasta club and partnered with the irascible and volatile disc jockey, whose eclectic taste in blazed-up Kingston dub provides historical substance to Mark's cutting edge ridims.
|A new Zion|
There was instant chemistry - and attraction. 'They're soulmates', record label boss Dillon James posits. Always the more religious of the two, Mark was motivated by a higher power. 'Mark wanted to be a kind of evangelical Tim Westwood for the next generation' says James. 'It was all about the search for a "new Zion". Damian's a lot more hedonistic. His Zion has always been the hydroponic skunk'. For awhile, the ying yang worked. Hip Hop historian Miss Belle Bondurant has written extensively on the dualities of homophobia and homoeroticism in UK hip hop. 'We've seen, time after time, this initial sparring that produces remarkable artistry, but results in mixed emotions and ends with recriminations. At first, it's a simple flirtation, and the men involved are protected by codes of ritual homophobia on which they can rely to dispel rumours of anything their culture would construe as taboo. Paradoxically, their work is a totem. Others worship it, but there's now this hard evidence of a burgeoning relationship. The rumours start. The artistic creation is taken as a symbol of a relationship that has been consummated improperly'.
|A blaze of justice|
Indeed, recriminations abound. Taking to twitter, Mark's accused Damian of having 'all the gear, and no idea'. In response to questions about their relationship in the wake of their arrest, Mark said simply 'urgh, Damian's so tiresome'. Damian, for his part, has been uncharacteristically philosophical. 'I'm the better DJ. We all know that' he said in a recent interview, that took place in his cat-shit infested garden in Kingston (south west London). 'Mark's rhymes are grammatically weak but amusing. We have our differences, but we're so solid'. He rejected claims that his drug usage had led to a breakdown in their relationship. 'These daze, I don't blaze. I prefer high-end Cuban cigars' he says.
Scandinavia show will go ahead
In the immediate aftermath of the arrest, the blogosphere was buzzing with rumours that Mark Damian wouldn't be able to perform at the Scandinavia Summer Ball. Scandinavia's charismatic lead singer, Nadim Samman, 29, laughs it off. 'They'll be there, no worries. [Mark Damian's] partnership is, like the chemistry in Scandinavia, a fraught one. But that is why we believe they are the right choice to compere our Summer Ball, and we are very, very excited about the tunes they'll be spinning'.
Catch Mark Damian's exclusive DJ set at the Scandinavia Summer Ball 2012 on Saturday 16 June.