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I wrote this about when UK Garage met Ragga #Raggarage

Today I'm using this space to share some of my favourite UK Garage tunes. To this day, I believe it was the best time of UK music. It was also the last time when it was just about the vibes. Nobody was interest in if it had potential to top the charts or if the makers were making money. It wasn't visual and mainstream were more concerned with boy and girl bands than the dance floor.

All you judged was how it made you feel. Did it make you wanna dance, sing along and buss gun finger? That's the only criteria. This isn't nostalgia speaking either. We all highlight certain aspects, forgetting that there was a lot of rubbish when hindsight takes over but it's actually the truth. MC's didn't have to be lyrical, because nobody wanted to hear deep lyrics when we were dancing.

Now it's the complete opposite; punchlines and image of success take precedence over the music in many cases as far as underground black music. We here at Marvin Sparks blame America and hip hop for that, but that's another blog post.

Back to why we are here. UKG was never rubbish, it just improved to another level in about 2001. When the reggae and ragga (bashment) influences hopped in, next ting! [Disclaimer: ragga wasn't the only element obviously, but they demonstrate when UKG began leaning in that direction]. These are most of my favourite UKG songs.

If you wanna know the history, UKG was the second room at jungle raves, jungle raves got gassed a lot, girl were going to garage, man dem followed the girls and so on and forth. Check Wiki for a proper explanation.

Let's kick things off with Miss Dynamite "Boo!" Probably the most successful of this Raggarage (I'm playing about with the fusion name until I settle on one that doesn't sound absolutely crap. Still not there yet. Stay tuned.) fusion. Produced by now famed producer Sticky who went on to own this lane. Dynamite is the reason most UK female MCs picked up a mic. This anthem detailing the politics in the dance still runs dance. Her lyrics are crazy in this and the Yardie flow is on point.

Dynamite really helped bring the ragga vibe out of this riddim, "Envy" with So Solid a.k.a. "They Don't Know" remix.

Maybe you never heard the influence in "They Don't Know", but I'm telling you it is. Double kick bass for instance. Listen to how similar it sounds to the one below. Romeo and Lisa Maffia use a similar vibe on "Deeper". "Skyla" also, in fact, that ones more obvious.

Prior to all the above, M Dubs ft. Richie Dan on vocals produced a big tune called "Over Here". I think this was about 1999. Give or take a year.

M Dubs blessed us with a couple more Richie Dan tracks like Call It Fate, but the Lady Saw-assisted "Bump and Grind" was ran the roads in 1999. I remember a song that sampled Jamaican film Dancehall Queen. The iconic moment when Priest says "Walk and live, talk and..." in the cult classic.

Which reminds me, Jamaican songstress Chrissy D and early 90s female deejay Lady G teamed up on this B15 Project garage vibe. Sonically, it isn't ragga at all. Collaboration still surprises me, 'cos as good as both are, neither were hot property at the time. Lady G had her first hit ("Breeze Out" in about '96) in a long time and Chrissy D never quite made it. Lovely voice though.

Hit UK top 40 in about 2000.

Earliest, ragga vocals on UKG I remember is UK ragga artist Top Cat on Double 99 "Rip Groove". Used to play this on The Box: Music Television You Control. I think this is from '97, give or take year.

Not sure if it was the first UKG #1, but Shanks & Big Foot "Sweet Like Chocolate" is one of the first three, hitting top spot in 1999. The bass pattern is very similar to reggae. Two-step drums and r&b vocal and there you have it.

Soul II Soul raised Wookie understood the power of reggae bass line, so it features heavily in Sia "Little Man (Exemen remix)" possibly the greatest remix ever. For int'l readers, yes this is Sia from David Guetta's tunes and Rihanna "Diamonds" songwriter back in 2001.

Another vocal tune was Brasstooth - "Pleasure". Ragga drums and bass

But anyway, bringing it back to proper ragga and garage link up 2001/02, More Fire Crew "Oi". The crew named after reggae artist Capleton's famous catchphrase blessed us with a straight classic, floor-filler guaranteed to make everyone scream "Oi!" Both Ozzie B and Neeko utilise the Yardie flow but with a London accent. Both merk it. Stormed the UK, reaching #7 in the pop charts.

Sticky lined up the late UK dancehall artist Tubby T with reggae at 140bpm. Tubby laid down some powerful words spreading peace and love as well as warning about the dangers of the streets. True to his reggae roots except in a UKG setting.

Beginning of the Tubby T video features another Sticky production, "Dollar Sign" by Stu$h.

The man dem from the barber shop in Tooting otherwise known as K2 Family achieved top 40 success with "Bouncing Flow".

HeartLess Crew - Heartless Theme. Not even sure if this touched top 40, you know. I'm guessing it did though. They were the elite raving crew at this point. Big up Bushkin, Mighty Moe and Fonti.

Pay As U Go experienced their only top 40 success with "Champagne Dance" in 2002. Big up Wiley (Kat) on the third verse.

Maxwell D appears on the fourth verse on the above. He dropped a hard ragga tune at UKG tempo called "Serious" which ran the roads heavy.

(Starts playing from 0:14 secs)

PAUG also dropped this anthem, "Know We" which Wiley recalls as his earliest memory of trying to make ragga-inspired music (in the interview I did with him about bashment).

Ultimate "rep your ends" anthem, imaginatively titled "Are You Really From Da Ends?" by Da Ends. Dirty banger

Unorthodox MC Flirta D scored a top 40 in 2005 with Van Damage and Lady Envy better known collectively as SLK. The Sticky-produced "Hype Hype" remains a club-stomper to this day. Flirta got a big sing along going at Eskimo Dance in like Jan/Feb this year

I think the above is when they were calling it grime, but it was garagey. But ragga meeting garage laid the foundations for grime. But that's another blog post. But you can see what I'm saying by this post though, 'cos songs like More Fire "Oi" is classified a grime in retrospect.

Hmm... maybe the grime edition is another blog post.

I'm posting the moment when Miss Dynamite walked out onstage with So Solid again. Happens at around 3:09mins. Nowhere else in the world has a culture produces genres which have gun fingers and reloads/forwards for appreciation other than London and Jamaica. No coincidence.

If I missed couple songs, holla at me in the comments section. These were the first that came to mind. Bless


  1. I like the video "SLK - Hype Hype" most. It makes me feel really interested.


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