The formula was simple: Take the drums from your last record, slightly re-arrange the bassline, stick a well known Hip Hop sample in there, and bam! – Your next release was ready for the pressing plant.
The Jump-Up of the mid to late 90’s made no apologies for its basic makeup – In fact it positively revelled in sticking two fingers up at those caught up in self-absorbed naval gazing. Jump-Up was care-free music that existed for the sole reason of making people dance, which for all intents and purposes took rave music back to its original core values. As the Prisoners of Technology politely wrote in the notes of their Bass 1999 album, “They make crazy Jump Up music for crazy party people, and if that’s not good enough for you then f*ck off!”
The funny thing is, that despite stepping away from intricate and complex musical arrangements Jump-Up did nothing to damage D&B’s appeal within the wider music community. In fact there was a time when you could seldom pick up a new Hip Hop or House release without finding an Urban Takeover or Ganja Kru remix on the flip. As outside interest shifted away from the likes of Photek and Source Direct, the new kings of the crossover market turned out to be jump up producers such as Aphrodite and DJ Zinc.
This was also the time when MC’s began to take centre-stage and soak up some of the limelight for themselves. The straightforward beats and drops in jump-up allowed MC’s the opportunity to deliver lyrical content in ways they were previously unable to. MC’s such as Fearless, Skibadee and Stevie Hyper D (RIP) became renowned for their ability to write rhymes, interact with the crowd, and work with the DJ on a whole new level. On many flyers the MC’s were now billed with equal status to the DJ’s and some people would travel to raves on the strength of the MC line-up alone.
For me personally, the Jump-Up sound will always transport me back to my first rave experience – nervously waiting in the queue whilst an array of basslines vibrated their way through the corrugated-sheet metal walls of some cattle market that had been converted into a rave for the weekend. As soon as the doors opened I had never seen anything like it – people literally ran onto the dancefloor and went nuts, blowing whistles, blowing horns, and dancing until the wee small hours. This is a short clip from my first rave featuring Stevie Hyper D and a young looking Andy C dropping bambaata on dubplate. It was a night that I will never forget.
Those who scoff at Jump-Up might say that I look back on those days with rose-tints, and they’d be right. All our experiences relate to our own personal journey in life and music is a big part of this. Before I went to my first rave I was treading a dangerous path (I was considering moving into House music ffs!), but once I had witnessed the vibe of a real rave and been part of that atmosphere I knew that was where my heart belonged.
Here’s to those first rave experiences 🙂