(An old mix that won a mix competition a few years back at ragga-jungle.com)
As most of you familiar with me may know, other than an occasional dabble, ragga isn’t really my preferred style of jungle. This wasn’t always the case. During my novice days, which happened to correspond with the period of my life when I was most heavily involved in reggae, it was the style I tended to play the most, not only because the transition to jungle from slower forms of music was eased by the presence of vocals, but also because much of it seemed to have a greater complexity than other jungle, an emphasis on variation in the drums and the bass which, it was apparent, were the cornerstones of the music.
I remember in 1999 listening to a DJ Hype mix from 1994 where he played a decent amount of ragga and wondering why the hell it sounded so much better and more complex than the new d&b I was finding in the stores. When I delved further, I realized the music had undergone many permutations during the previous 5 years, and discovered “oldskool.” I also realized that part of the complexity I sensed in ragga was actually a mirage, a trick of the lyric that, layered over the break, made it somehow seem more than its constituent parts. I then noticed that many of the tracks to which I repeatedly returned were not the ones with full on vocals, but rather ragga snippets, and ones that had an atmospheric pad or strings foregrounding the snare-hits. Listening to these tunes, I found myself swaying and could, so to speak, feel the pull of the rhythm in my blood. Consequently I moved on to atmospheric and female vocal jungle as my preferred mode of booyaka--the diva tunes tending towards snippets as well, and the atmospheric tunes, because of their absent vocals, focusing even more heavily on the drum-work and, if lacking therein, having nothing to cover it up or throw a smoke-screen over its underparts. I suspect part of my affinity for this subgenre also stems from spending countless hours as a youth listening to classical radio, but let me not get too far off track.
Despite my divergence from ragga, it has retained a special place within my heart, and has continued to have a foothold in my mixes if not a hip or a shoulder. Two of the most influential artists in my past, apart from DJ Epic, whose near daily influence is a story all its own, were LA based R.A.W. and NY based team Tuffist & Human?. Their mixes, especially the former’s "1995 Ragga Jungle Soundclash" and the latter’s "Alpha Omega" & "Survival Style," were three of the most formative mixes in the development of my preferences.
When I heard there was a ragga jungle mix contest being held this December (2008) at ragga-jungle.com, an impulse arose in me to compose something which I thought lived up to the standards of the above-mentioned examples, and something that would bring both ends of my preferential spectrum together. So I scoured through my collection, selected a few handfuls of tunes that represented the best of ragga in my mind, but also incorporated elements from the diva and atmospheric veins, and set to work. The beginning was fairly easygoing, then the middle proved somewhat difficult, and the end, after much frustration and curses hurled at the screen, was some of the most painstaking mixing I had encountered to date. On average I used to spend about 8-12 hours composing a 45-60 minute mix. Beginning with this one, on which I spent around 30 hours, that time has now doubled or tripled.
I’d like to think the result is a thing of beauty, a work of art that, in this age of more mixes than a man can listen to, will cause one’s inner ear to take a step back and bask in admiration, one that will inspire the listener to tread its aural path time and time again. But the decision of whether this remains mere fantasy or becomes actuality doesn’t rest with me. I leave that, as it should be, entirely up to you.
01 (00:00) Papa Levi – Me God Me King (Jungle Remix Part 2) – Link
02 (03:37) Bass Master Warriors – Ten Grand Dubplate – Big G
03 (04:50) DJ Renegade ft Gunsmoke – The Clash – TBR on Drumrunner
04 (07:50) Kemet Crew/Mark X – Burn It Down – Ibiza/Kemet
05 (11:02) E.P.S. Man – Shockout – Spotlight
06 (14:03) Mind Therapy – What Goes Around – Artistic Vinyl
07 (17:12) Shabba Ranks – Let’s Get It On (Shy FX & T-Power Mellow Vibes Version) – Epic
08 (19:11) Ellis Dee – Nice Up Ya Scene – White House
09 (21:15) Chatta B – Journey Into Sound – Redskin
10 (23:42) Skool of Hard Knocks – The Bommer – Sonic
11 (25:46) Mafia the Blackhand Vol 1 – Whatever - Mafia
12 (28:24) Cult – Untitled B – MZN 3842
13 (31:18) The Hempaholics ft Gunsmoke – Court Case – S.O.U.R.
14 (33:35) Rock Stone Foundation – Dis Soun’ (1.8.7 Jungle Dub) – Jungle Sky
15 (36:13) Mafia the Blackhand Vol 2 – Untitled A – Mafia
16 (38:18) Bigga T – 19 Funky 5 (Vocal Mix) – Sub & Bleep
17 (40:56) MC Lenni – Make Some Time Tonight (Mix 1) – Rough Tone 13
18 (42:15) Jacky Murda ft Bass Nacho – Don’t Wanna Run Up Inna Dat – Chopstick Dubplate