Hungry for more, huh? Here are a few thoughts on the riddims themselves…
I had planned to try and outdo Droid’s recent commentary on his raggamortis mix, but time has not allowed this. Plus I realised that I would basically just be plagiarising large chunks of Dancehall Explosion: Reggae Music Into The Next Millennium by Baek and Hedegard. So you should just read that, yeah? Instead, here is a whistlestop tour through the mix with my characteristically shabby research shining through.
Broke Bottle / Q45 / Desmond & Rupert Blake
A nice bit of brittle minimalism to kick off with. Egg Nog isn’t the meanest name “on road” but comes across as a fairly convincing gangsta on this. Beenie’s cut includes a nod towards Dee-Lite, one of those bizarre incursions into dancehall by rave/dance culture that I am so fond of. Harry Toddler wins the prize for the first reference to John Gotti on this mix – the first of many, but can you spot them all?
Baddis Ting / Hi-Profile / Richard Browne
Baddis! Prepare for a pounding by serious bass action. If anyone ever did “screwed and chopped” gabba, then it might hope to sound this good. The riddim was re-versioned recently but for my money it’s all about the originals. Nice to see the producer being grilled on the dub! No doubt I have missed some crucial vocal cuts, but seemingly it’s all good. In JA a “jacket” is someone’s husband who is unaware that he is not the biological father of his children. See Tanya Stephen’s more tender “Little White Lie” for the other side of the story.
Black Widow / Shines / Shane Richards
I like the plinky plonky synths on this. Cobra announces that he has sufficient variety in the bedroom to keep any woman entertained whilst Goofy declaims the limitless opportunities for things to mess up in these last days.
Powerplay / How Yu Fi Sey Dat? / Redrose & Malvo
The piano reminds me of an old drum ‘n’ bass tune, but it’s the swirling maelstrom of a bassline that really makes this. Beenie on resisting what he sees as the decadence of the western world. Delly Ranks is demanding that the laydeez put on more of a performance for him, but Ghost is having none of it. And General B? Answers on a postcard.
Bagpipe / Steelie & Clevie / Steelie & Clevie
Bagpipe caused a bit of a stir when Droid included it in a previous mix. Kode9 went mental for it and I think you can hear why. Steelie and Clevie were the dons of this era – you may also remember their superb Nine Night riddim off the Boom Boom Bashment mix that me and Paul did. It’s incredible how they make such a perfect structure out of all those mad sounds. This is another brilliant example of how diverse a riddim can be – the opener is practically ambient, and then Zebra and Squidley ramp it up. Nice bit of dancefloor destruction on the remix also.
Medina / 2 Hard / Jeremy Harding
1998 kicked off the careers of Jeremy Harding and Sean Paul – big style. Harding became a producer almost by accident, progressing from DJ work to doing radio ads and jingles before being persuaded that his studio could also be used for voicing dubplates. He cites hip hop as a major influence but also groups like Nitzer Ebb and Ministry.
Sean Paul, Red Rat and Monster Shack Crew were banded together as “uptown raggas” as they all came from relatively well-to-do families rather than the ghetto. This was nothing new, though, Augustus Pablo also came from a well off background before giving it all up for rastafari.
Aphasic of Junk and Ambush Records used to kick off his DJ sets with “Wanna Make Noise” and quite right too. Medina is the shyer brother to the Playground riddim but there is something about it which allows the vocalists to stretch out a bit more. Great performances all round, but a stunner from Tanya – and worth keeping hold of now she has taken a more ballady (but still excellent) path.
Filthy/Filthier / Main Street / Danny Brownie & D. Juvenile
Yeah, so some of you might remember this one… sweep back to Vegas doing a link on the Mobos with a fawning Dani Behr. Apparently “Heads High” is a song for a young cousin, telling her not to feel pressured into sex too early. The message of female empowerment is only slightly marred by the (unrelated!) follow up “She’s a Whore”.
Fade Away / Opera House / Andrew Bradford
Buccaneer is singly responsible for introducing opera stylings to dancehall. Here, on an Enya tip. Where else do you get that, eh?
Now Thing / Redrose / How Yu Fi Sey Dat?
As used and endorsed by The Bug at BASH. This was also the title of the MoWax LP of bashment instrumentals they put out, not wanting to scare off the hipsters and techno fans with the vocals, methinks. Which is a great shame because the vocals are excellent – an ace smokers’ anthem from Tony Curtis and Future Troubles, Lady Saw telling the men to get their act together in the bedroom and Sean Paul tearing down the place once again.
Playground / Jeremy Harding / 2 Hard
All about the bass again, but there are some wicked vocals on this also, for example Dutty Cup Crew’s “This is a stick up give me everything you got, we haffi report fi check out all the gals dem sexy and phat” I’ve had a raw mix of this section for ages and I cannot play it without beaming away to myself and anyone in the vicinity.
Earthquake / Big Yard / Robert Livingston & Sting Pizzonia
Proper rave-mentalism. I could quite happily play these back to back to back, mashing up the version. But I doubt you’d want to hear an hour of that so I have relented here. Big Yard is Shaggy’s label and I think this (and what follows) prove that he knows the score. I always have to gnash my teeth when someone slags off Shaggy or Sean Paul, as if that was de rigeur because they’ve been in the charts a few times. Well it’s not, OK?
Sexy Gal / Big Yard / Sting International
Ridiculously over the top finish.
(if your copy of the mix is only 45 minutes long, then please download it again to get the full hour long version – it seems like there may have been some glitches with the server… thanks to Droid for is tireless perfectionism in hosting the entire series and resolving my retarded approach to technology in this instance)