What We Know About Idris Elba's DJ Career

We'd love to imagine that the new Netflix show Turn Up Charlie Charlie is completely based on a true story, and that once upon a time, Idris Elba was hired to be his friend's kid's nanny. This is not the case. However, Elba's character, Charlie Ayo, does share something in common with Elba himself: They're both professional DJs. But unlike Charlie, Elba is a super successful DJ.
You heard that right. In addition to being an award-winning actor, People's 2018 Sexiest Man Alive, and conquerer of the mountain in The Mountain Between Us, Elba moonlights as a DJ. In fact, his musical career is just as legit as his acting one – especially when compared to other actors who decided to pick up a new hobby after becoming established (see: Robert Downey Jr.'s 2004 album The Futurist). To his musical fans, he's DJ Big Driis first, Idris Elba second.
"I'm the last bastion of DJ culture," Elba told E! News.
Elba's music career began when he was 14 years old, nearly a decade before he began acting. His first DJ name was Mr. Kipling — and the name has quite an origin story. "Mr. Kipling is a brand of cakes. In England, cakes are also called tarts. Back in the day, I was smooth with the ladies and they call ladies tarts. One day I walked in to this party, and one of my friends said, 'Idris, you have more tarts than Mr. Kipling," Elba told E! News. The stage name later evolved to become "Big Driss."
In the '90s in England, he ran a pirate radio station out of Hackney. By the 2000s, he was a resident at some clubs in Manhattan. His career has since taken him around the world. He's booked sets at some of the most prestigious and exclusive events possible — from Coachella to Glastonbury to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Recently, Elba appeared in the song "Boasty" by Wiley, and slipped in a boast about his set at the Royal wedding party: "Man a big DJ, ask Meghan and Harry."
You might be able to catch Elba on tour. In 2015, Elba opened for Madonna during the Berlin stop of her Rebel Hearts tour. He also warmed up for Deadmau5.
In July 2018, Elba launched his own record label, 7Wallace.
Elba specializes in tech and house music. But his character in Turn Up Charlie, Charlie Ayo, has a more retro style. To fully commit to the character, Elba made some music as Charlie. This is Charlie's song, "L.U.V."
Maybe the next incarnation of James Bond will have a musical streak.

More from Music