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Islington Tribune - by ROISIN GADELRAB
Published: 31 October 2008

Tim Westwood in the pimped-up police riot van on Monday
Pimp my ride… from cop riot van to mobile recording studio

Battered vehicle saved from scrapheap for DJ’s TV show will tour estates

HIP-hop came to the Andover estate in Holloway on Monday when Radio 1 DJ Tim Westwood unveiled his latest project – a pimped-up police riot van.
Thanks to a plea from Islington police superintendent John Sutherland, Mr Westwood transformed a battered police riot van for his MTV programme Pimp My Ride.
Three youths pulled back the red sheet to unveil the finished project, a graffiti-emblazoned mobile recording studio complete with electric fold-out basketball ring, which charity XLP will take to estates across six boroughs.
Mobo award-winning MC Chipmunk turned up to lend his support to the project.
Mr Westwood said he “used the power of pimping” to turn around “a real battered and bruised police riot van doing the rounds at Arsenal football ground and pimped it to the extreme”.
He added: “This is one of our greatest works and shows of all time. This was such an important project. Now it’s much easier to make music. You don’t need big recording studios. In a lot of estates people don’t have access to a lot of equipment. Something like this would create tremendous impact.”
He praised the effort that went into the transformation. “We had a new garage, new energy, everyone was really caught up with how important the cause was,” he said. “We were given a lot of stuff, which was great. To pay for something like that would be about £100,000, £150,000 if you include labour.”
Music giant EMI helped fund the transformation.
Mr Westwood indicated he might be willing to repeat the project, adding: “Being in this game you have a moral obligation to give back. These are my favourite people to work with, the most deserving.”
When Supt Sutherland initially thought about involving the television programme it was not filming at the time. A few months later his plane was delayed in the United States, and he got chatting to the person next to him, who happened to be from MTV, and the transformation was under way. He said: “The van that was pimped was going for scrap. It was reaching the end of its life and didn’t have much worth.”
Patrick Regan, of charity XLP, said the van would go into the heart of estates. “Out there you’ve got intelligent articulate young people,” he added. “It’s not about making a song and getting famous it’s about helping them articulate what’s going on in their lives.”
MTV has created a website – – where music created in the van can be uploaded.
The van will be featured on MTV’s Pimp My Ride on November 30.

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