Dotty Is Celebrating Hip-Hop’s Past, Present, And Future

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50 years ago a small block party took place in a less-than-affluent area of New York – and somehow, it changed the world. When Kool DJ Herc took to the wheels of steel that night, he helped spark into life a whole culture, an entire way of being. Hip-hop’s genesis moment, that party birthed a wave of MCs, DJs, producers, dancers, and visual artists that shows no signs of abating.

Apple Music are highlighting hip-hop’s 50 year arc of excellence with a season of broadcasting, using Hip-Hop DNA to touch upon some of the culture’s greatest – and overlooked – moments.

Dotty is a vocal advocate for hip-hop culture, rap music, and Black arts more generally, an individual who is unafraid to put her entire being into her passions. Set to helm a special UK-centric edition of Hip-Hop DNA – looking at the unique rap culture we like to call our own – Dotty will be playing a special role in the global platform’s hip-hop celebration.

Chatting to Clash, she reflects on how hip-hop entered her life, the UK’s rap lineage, and where the music might just go next.

When did hip-hop culture first enter your life?

The sounds of hip-hop were engrained in me from childhood. I remember finding an old Salt-N-Pepa VHS in my uncle’s video collection and it was an anthology of music videos from their album ‘A Salt With A Deadly Pepa’. I knew from then that I would be in love with the art form for the rest of my life. I can’t have been more than four or five years old at the time. That’s probably one of the earliest memories I’m able to recall and to me that’s the power of hip-hop. Its ability to soundtrack a moment and remain forever attached to it.

What were a few of those early influences / fascinations?

My earliest fascination was Missy Elliot and her album ‘Supa Dupa Fly’. To me she is one of the genre’s greatest visionaries. Her approach to melody, her unorthodox rap delivery, her ability to push boundaries visually. It was the kind of entertainment that could capture the attention of an over stimulated kid in the 90s! I was enthralled by Busta Rhymes for the same reasons. They were so animated and unrestricted in their approach to hip-hop.

What does hip-hop mean to you in 2023?

Hip-hop in 2023 is so much more than a genre. It’s a culture. A shared language between all who love it. A sense of community and a collective history that will continue to grow.

Apple Music’s Hip-Hop DNA programming has been inspirational, what were your takeaways? Did you find yourself discovering / viewing artists in a different light?

The fascinating thing about our Hip-Hop DNA series is that it made connections that you might never have noticed on your own. Tracing the lineage of a genre with such a rich history. For me the origin episodes were a real education, especially the deep dives into the New York boroughs. Looking at Cardi B in the context of The Bronx or considering how LL Cool J’s story is also a story about Queens. I saw the music I love through a brand new lens.

The UK has a rap lineage of its own, with a unique history. How do you feel it differs from America?

UK rap is born from an entirely different set of circumstances and influences. Our sound here is reflective of quite a different cultural diaspora and at times entirely different lived experiences. Evolving from jungle, dancehall, garage and grime, UK rap feels authentically our own. 

The history of Black music in America and right here in the UK is often poorly documented – do you feel programming such as Hip-Hop DNA are playing a role in redressing that?

Absolutely. It’s important that stories are told by the people that were there which is why I love hearing about Hip-Hop from Ebro!

You’ve interviewed some of the all-time greats – we’re thinking Busta Rhymes, Sean Paul, WizKid, and beyond – what do you take from those conversations? Is that experience an education in itself?

Conversations with musical pioneers still fascinate me and it’s something that I never take for granted as a broadcaster. Being given access to people like Busta Rhymes, someone who played such a huge role in shaping my love  for music, is a surreal experience to this day.

If you had to pick one artist who defined rap music in the UK, who would it be and why?

It’s impossible to choose one because UK rap is so multifaceted. Its journey hasn’t been linear so you’d need to credit a number of MCs for their part in its evolution. From Ms Dynamite to Giggs to Dizzee. But I think there is something to be said about how Skepta has embodied that evolution. For me he sits at that top table of artists that ushered in the mainstream popularity around UK rap that we see today.

You’re set to helm a Hip-Hop DNA special focussing on the UK – How did you go about summing up such a complex series of sounds and communities?

I think the Hip-Hop DNA series works because it hasn’t tried to simplify the complex story of Hip Hop and has instead broken it down into smaller tales with each episode forming the patchwork of its rich tapestry. We approach it the same way with UK rap. The story is infinite and is still being told. So in my special we look at a moment in UK rap history and trace how that provided a new dawn for the sound.

What do you feel this project / Hip-Hop DNA taught you?

That hip-hop is ever-evolving and will live on in many guises for generations to come. 

And finally, what are your plans for the rest of 2023 and beyond?

To continue championing and celebrating Black music from the UK and around the world!

‘The Dotty Show’ airs Monday-Thursday 3-5pm and ‘The Agenda Radio’ airs every Friday at 2-3pm on Apple Music 1. Tune in live for free or on-demand with an Apple Music subscription at

Words: Robin Murray