Beats & Pieces Vol 29 – Yo Ragga Ragga!

My inbox filled up with a whole mess of reggae inspired tunes this week, so I thought it only fair to dedicate an entire Beats and Pieces segment to dem.

Ragga jungle, or just ragga, is reggae-inspired jungle and drum & bass. It was was THE sound for most of jungle’s formative years, thanks to legends like Rebel MC’s Congo Natty, the Ragga Twins, M-Beat, and ShyFX. Some of the biggest, most successful tunes in the history of the music had that reggae and dancehall influence oozing out of them. However, since the early part of this century the sub-genre has been given something of a short shrift as the music has evolved. But that doesn’t mean people haven’t been pushing out good tunes. Oh no! There’s still plenty of music to explore, so I’m dedicating today’s B&P to those that keep that ragga vibe alive.

Ranking Joe & Marcus Visionary – Jungle General/Ram Dance Selector – Lion Dub Intl – OUT NOW

Marcus Visionary has been at the forefront of the ragga jungle producer’s club for many years. I’d even go so far as to say he’s the top producer in the sub-genre and every one of his riddims is consistently top notch. This time he goes in with Ranking Joe on two original steppers. Jungle General comes across with a bit of Congo Natty, a tidy pinch of jump-up bass, and a smattering of Sister Nancy’s Bam Bam. While Ram Dance Selector is a smoother, dubbier number with a plucky bass guitar intro that’s at home with a dose of liquid funk.

Rhythm Riders – Give Me A Sign – Sub Slayers – OUT NOW

Well now…pick your favorite genre, other than trance (if that’s your fav genre, why are you here?!), then have a go at this set of tunes from Rhythm Riders featuring Aswad and Renegade Soundwave. The original is reminiscent of a dubby breaks tune with big room bashment sound. The two killers, for me, are the Bladerunner DnB mix and the 9 Lives deep house mix, which while miles apart in tempo and style, offer the most precise variations on the original and suit my personal tastes. Massive hat tip to longtime dons, Renegade Soundwave as they go in on a classic breaks remix before making way for contributions from King Yoof and JStar.

Benny Page ft. Assassin – Champion Sound Remixes – High Culture Recs – OUT NOW

Benny Page has done well for himself in the bass music scene for quite a number of years with some of his more high profile work being released on ShyFX’s Digital Soundboy imprint. Now he’s made a big room EDM tune with vocalist, Assassin (who was featured on Kanye’s I’m In It), entitled Champion Sound. Good on them for that, but we’re here to talk about the remixes. At the head of the class are the Serial Killaz, the ragga jungle remix kings. You can bet that if they’ve retouched a tune then it’s been re-done with precision and this is no exception. They’re experts at maintaining the essence of the reggae MCs cadence and pitch while beefing up the bass. Beyond the SK remix, there’s more with a high tempo juke/drumpstep mix from North Base and a bass house effort from 9 Lives that suffers from an awkward vocal edit. Heading back to headier territory are separate dub remixes by Mungo and Samson. Mungo’s version is sped up and almost doesn’t want to be dub, while Samson seems to harness that Mad Professor-esque sound. If these two were going “tune fi tune” in a single tune clash, Samson would the don.

And just to sweeten the ragga pot we have a brand new podcast from Dubwise Station by Doumpa. Get your fix!

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