chrissy murderbot is a walking musical encyclopedia.
im a huge fan of the CHRISSY MURDERBOTS http://yearofmixtapes.blogspot.com/ he did an amazing job assorting the various chapters of music.imo important enough to be submitted to the library of congress. i decided to ask him a few questions I had about drum and bass history. i wrote….
“…you touched on a few eras of drum and bass. but im curious about the congo natty record label and where they fit in in the big picture. all ive gathered from the wiki and online research was that it was started by micheal west after his stint as a british pop star in double trouble, had a few succsesful hits, left the spotlight to start congo natty, has a grip of aliases that makes research somewhat difficult.
“champion dj” was the tune that got me into dnb and electronic music in general. very special tune for me personally. the whole label seems to exist within itself as its own thing. they seem to be completely separate from the rest of typical s.t. holdings labels. much more geared towards the roots and culture aspects of jungle music. i would be interested in your thoughts on the label. i remember reading somewhere that goldie started metalheadz partly in defiance of the “boo-yaka” sound at the time and always wondered if he was referring to rebel mc.”
Murderbot promply responds with….
“Congo Natty is an interesting one.
So Michael West did his Rebel MC / Double Trouble pop ragga stuff in the late 80s through 1991, and then by 1992 he was doing hardcore techno or breakbeat or rave or whatever you wanna call it under the name xproject
, which was loosely affiliated with LIMITED E and KEMET and IBIZA RECORDS and that whole crew (basically hardcore rave / jungle tekno / proto-jungle with a lot of Pan-Africanist / Black Nationalist / Rastafarian / Nation Of Islam imagery), as well as being tied into Terry Tee from Prizna (who ran KUS records and co-wrote “Fire
” with Demolition Man).
As the hardcore rave scene evolved into jungle, he had a couple of Ragga Jungle hits in 1994 (“Jah Sunshine
” as Project X and “Code Red
” as Conquering Lion), both of which came out on his own Project X label.
I’m sure records like this were a small part of what Goldie
was talking about when he referred to starting Metalheadz
, although I imagine that in Goldie’s world in 1994 Michael West was at the periphery. If I had to guess who specifically Goldie would’ve been talking about, it would be M-Beat and General Levy
, and Shy FX & UK Apache.
Both those duos had HUGE inescapable top 40 ragga jungle hits in early 1994 and then immediately proceeded to make embarrassing public statements about inventing jungle or being the best jungle producers or whatever. So there was a lot of backlash against that sound (and those guys in particular) at that moment.
But this all happened BEFORE Congo Natty even existed. Congo Natty’s first release (by Blackstar
) was in 1995, at the very tail end of the ragga jungle fad, as the music was already evolving into Drum & Bass, Hardstep, Jump-Up, etc. The Blackstar 2LP and associated 12”s were the only 1995 release…all the big hits like “Junglist
” and “Set It
” and “Wardance
” were released in 1996-1998, well into the era of Techstep and Hard D&B. When Congo Natty came out, it stuck out like a sore thumb against the other big labels at the time (Joker post-1996, Juice, No U-Turn, Smokers Inc., Hospital, Moving Shadow post-1996). Even the early Congo Natty releases were positioned in the marketplace as “throwbacks” or “jungle revival” or whatever, which by that point was developing its own fanbase separate from the D&B scene (a fanbase which would later evolve into Soundmurderer and breakcore and the ragga jungle revival of the early 2000s).
So yeah, other than “Jah Sunshine” and “Code Red”, Michael West didn’t really have a huge amount of involvement in the classic era of Ragga Jungle from late 1993 to early 1995, and was kind of in his own little corner of the scene like you said…
hope this helps shed some light on things! :)”
it certainly did.