Don Johnson Big Band (DJBB) is an organic hip hop band with a popular twist performing in English and influenced by a wide variety of genres. The outfit was founded in the middle of 1990’s during their high school years by rapper Tommy “Father Metro” Lindgren, keyboard player Johannes Laiho, and guitarist, bassist and drummer Kari Saarilahti with the fourth member, saxophonist and flutist Pekka Mikkonen soon filliping up their ranks. Beatbox artist Felix Zenger joined the official lineup as the fifth member in the late 2010’s.
The band made their breakthrough with the self-released debut album Support de Microphones released in 2000. It paved the way all the way to the top on the sales charts and is still one of the most succesful self-released Finnish records in the history. Many of the fans consider especially the debut and their sophomore album Breaking Daylight three years later as classics. The latest effort is their seventh album Digital Physical, which was released in May 2022. It’s a sequel to their previous album Physical Digital issued four years prior to it. Musically it draws most of its inspiration and influences from the popular forms of current main stream in rhythm music very much the same way as their earlier publications.
Thus, DJBB has released four albums, which have been received well with many of them earning a gold or platinum status for their sales. They have been granted with three EMMA Awards (similar to American Grammys) for their albums Breaking Daylight (2003) and DJBB (2006) as well as for the song “One MC, One Delay” (2003). At Funky Awards 2003 they were also selected as the Band of the Year. They are equally known from all the most important domestic festivals as a strong live band, who have performed also abroad for example in St. Petersburg, Tallinn and in Chaoyang International Pop Music festival in Peking, China in 2005. For the global music community event MIDEM 2016 in Cannes, France they were selected as one of the performances of the opening night, which highlighted Finnish music together with acts such as The Rasmus, Nightwish ja HIM.
There are numerous guest artists performing both on their albums and especially in live concerts during the years. These include soul singer Emma Salokoski, guitarist Petteri Sariola, violinist Pekka Kuusisto, pop folk duo Eva & Manu and percussionists Juuso Hannukainen (Rinneradio, Rhythm Funk Masters, Suhinators) and Tero Rantanen (Kuukumina, CapeNape & The Foundation). DJBB has also warmed up for international superstars, such as Kanye West, James Brown and Jamiroquai.
Rapper Tommy Lindgren has a divisive role on his parts for DJBB among the listeners because of his style, which some see too monotonic. Lindgren was also one of the main vocalists Ricky-Tick Big Band & Julkinen Sana, which fused big band jazz and hip hop, and GG Caravan combining Romani folk music into hip hop. He has also published a solo album titled Sininen kaupunki in 2006.
Text: Joonas Kervinen / Funky Finland