I am one of the biggest fans of jungle and drum and bass emceeing. It is a very difficult skill to master, it requires as much attention as any of the other genres. It also provided the blueprint for the garage MCs, then the grime MCs and so on.
There are some seriously talented rave MCs out there, from Stevie Hyper D (RIP), Skibadee, Navigator, Ragga Twins, Trigga, Spyda, Fearless, Shabba, Det, Dynamite, Harry Shotta, Eksman, Herbzie, Shorts, Fatman D, Foxy, Evil B and the list goes on.
There are also some brilliant host MCs from GQ, SP, 2Shy, ID, Rage, Verse and Jakes.
The differentiation between these two styles of emceeing within the genre is wide – one style (the host) is purely there to support the DJ or producer (shows like Chase & Status etc) and the other style (the rave MC) is there to both support the DJ and show off their lyrical prowess.
Unfortunately the latter, has never really broken out of the underground. Skibadee was signed to Relentless (Virgin records) in 2002 and the legendary Stevie Hyper D was signed to Island Records before he passed away in 1998. There have been some vocal releases which have made some waves but all in all, the acclaim has never really been given.
In my opinion, knowing the history between the ragga vocal and jungle in the 90s, consistently it appeared that vocals involving MCs of the genre had been pushed to the back by the big name producers. Of course the exception to the rule was ‘Mo’ Fire’ by Navigator & Rawhill Crew. This was produced by DJ Fresh and Bad Company.
Will we ever see an underground drum and bass MC become a star? will we see a ground breaking MC based tune outside of ‘Brown Paper Bag’, ‘Mo Fire’ or ‘Tarantula’?
The subject of the drum and bass MC and rave MC is something we will continue to explore over the coming weeks.
Roni Size & Dynamite MC – Brown Paper Bag (full vocal version)
Navigator, Spyda & Soultrain (Rawhill Crew) – Mo Fire (Bad Company Remix)
Pendulum (Pendulum vs fresh ft Spyda & Tenor Fly) – Tarantula
Examples of how it could be done, but never reached the full potential hits they could of been.
The legendary track and one of the stand out tunes from Stevie Hyper’s posthumous album.
Dfrnt Lvls (Feat. Stevie Hyper D) – Flexin Today
The below track is not by a drum and bass MC, in fact it features legendary UK MC – Million Dan from groundbreaking hip-hop crew Demon Boyz. What is apparent here is the style in which he is spitting, very clearly a jungle/soundboy style.
Deekline & Ed Solo – Paella (Blaze It Up) ft. Million Dan
Or the Eksman track ‘Na Blood’ which in an odd way became a rave anthem (lyrically) despite never really being played at raves. This is about the closest you will get to road rap on a drum and bass tune.
Eksman feat. Shortston & Herbszie – Na Blood
Words by Jamie BC.
Image taken at OTM in 2001 by Duncan Longden.