More than not, when someone’s introducing Andy C, Goldie, or Grooverider they’ll probably refer to them as “The Godfather of DnB”. And while that’s not wrong, it might appear as we’ve got more than one. So I’ve searched far and wide, and came up with a list that explores the creators and shapers of this thing we like to call Drum & Bass, from producers, to Dj’s and MC’s. In no particular order, here are the first 4.
1. Rebel MC
Michael Alec Anthony West (Born 27 August 1964), aka Congo Natty, aka Tribe of Issachar, aka Blackstar, aka… lots more.
Rebel MC is one of the earliest junglists to date (not counting famous Jazz musician Duke Ellington, whose music was at the time described as “Jungle Music”, seriously, look it up.). Older ravers might remember Double Trouble’s Street Tuff , a top 10 Hip-Hop song from 1989 featuring Rebel MC, Tuff Enuff, Leigh Guest and the now deceased Michael Menson. After that came the critical acclaimed album “Black Meaning Good” (1991) where he mixed the Hip-Hop he was known for with his other musical love: Reggae, Dance and Jungle. The album featured Ragga-royalty under the names of Barrington Levy, Tenor Fly and Dennis Brown.
Fun Fact: it was from the track “The Wickedest Sound” ft. Tenor Fly that Jay Fay and DJ Fresh took the sample that made up the chorus in Dibby Dibby Sound. Just listen to the first 3 seconds HERE.
By 1992 Rebel MC Formed his own label “Tribal Bass” and released his last significant hit (in terms of UK hit charts) to date bearing the same name. Tribal Bass evolved over the years to “Congo Natty”, and on this label, under the moniker “Tribe of Issachar” he released one of the most iconic Jungle anthems to date called “Junglist“. Without clicking the link just read the words: “Now before making records, the hood was my saviour..”, I’m fairly confident you’re saying the rest of the lyrics in your head.
Check out this blogpost, that goes in depth about the song, and why it’s probably one of the best Jungle-songs ever made.
2. Fabio & Grooverider
The earliest Pioneers and launchers of careers of lesser gods like Goldie, Dj Marky, Calibre and Chase & Status. After teaming up a little over 25 years ago, spinning mostly House and funk they evolved to a more darker and bass-heavier style, championing the up-and-coming jungle music, but giving it their own personal touch. Fabio (Born as Fitzroy Heslop) is said to be the first person to use the term “Liquid Funk” which would later evolve in the “Liquid” sub-genre, while Grooverider (Born as Raymond Bingham) is creator of his own label Prototype, with a mountain of classics under its sleeve like Bad Company’s “Planet Dust”, to name one.
Both also have outstanding careers as radio dj’s, ranging from pirate radio, to BBC Radio 1, where they first gave exposure to producers we now all know and love.
Fun Fact: It’s by Fabio’s doing that the dance-chart topper “Hide U” by Kosheen became such a big hit. Read all about that on Kosheen producer Markee Ledges interview here.
If the previous two entries represent the earliest, then this entry must represent the most famous. Goldie (Born Clifford Joseph Price) started out as a breakdancer and graffiti-artist (the latter alongside Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja, who he accidentaly outed as being Banksy) which took him to New York and Miami, where he (according to Wikipedia) also sold golden grills. Later his girlfriend at the time DJ Kemistry introduced him to Drum and Bass producers 4Hero (of Reinforced Records) for which he did some A&R work. The first song he ever was involved in was Ajax Project’s Ruffige, on which according to some sources he was an uncredited vocalist, although other sources cite him as being a producer on it as well. Whichever was the case, he apparently liked the Ruffige name, and used it as the alias Rufige Cru (later Rufige Kru) to release the legendary song “Terminator“in 1992.
Skip ahead to 1994, where he, Kemistry and Storm founded Metalheadz after a night out raving saying “right, I want to make this music, you’ll be the DJs, we’ll have a label and a club, we’ll make some t-shirts.”.
Goldie went on to make “Timeless”, an album that hasn’t stolen its name. Look for a list of most influencial electronic albums, and I bet you Timeless is on there somewhere.
His track “Inner City Life” is still one of the greatest songs from that decade, featuring the now deceased Diane Charlemagne.
If you want to know more about the history of Metalheadz, check out “Talkin’ Headz”, a documentary from 1998 detailing its history to that point.
Fun Fact: Goldie also has an acting career, check him here learning about “Moissanite” in the movie Snatch.
4. LTJ Bukem
Being a trained classical pianist, and playing in a Jazz band in the early 80’s LTJ Bukem (born Danny Williamson) surely wasn’t destined to play at raves, yet by the time the 80’s where done, that’s where he found himself. Fusing the up and coming jungle sound with his own jazzy background he created such legendary songs as “Atlantis“, “Logical Progression” and “Horizons” the latter was released on his own label “Good Looking Records”. That label was hailed for releasing tracks in a style dubbed “Intelligent Drum and Bass”, much to LTJ’s chagrin. Even though he started producing in the early 90s, it took him until 2000 to release his first full album, entitled “Journey Inwards”.
Fun Fact: In 2007 at age 40 he found his biological mother who was an Ugandan woman living in Paris, who in her turn revealed that his father was Egyptian.
EDIT: We here at Junglelists know about the drama surounding LTJ Bukem, MC Conrad, and Goodlooking records, yet we don’t care and want to focus on the achievements and history of the music, and less on the hear-say. Though, admittedly, we should’ve included this, since it’s part of history. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, Google it, and you’ll find write-ups from all sides of the story.
Continue reading with the next part in “Godfathers of DnB”. And maybe check out this playlist, with the songs discussed in the series, along with some extras: