Drum’n’Bass might not be as cool as what it used to be in the late 90’s or early noughties. Despite what others said about drum & bass slides to irrelevancy, the genre itself never went away. In fact, with steady streams of new producers and reinvention, we’ve seen more and more drum & bass cross over tune that reach dance chart top 10 such as DJ Fresh’ Hot Right Now. You go to drum & bass parties, the crowd tend to get younger too. In its most recent incarnation, drum & bass sounds has become more slick and modern. Productions from the like of Netsky, Metrik, Shock One has become the standard. With that in mind, I want to take a look back to the 10 drum & bass tunes from the past that have helped to shape the sound of drum & bass today.
10. Vault – Pendulum (31 Records)
Pendulum released their first track ‘Vault’ on Doc Scott’s legendary label 31 Records. This Australian trio went on to create some of the biggest drum & bass anthems of all time but, I chose Vault to be in here. ‘Vault’ marks the shift in drum & bass sound. From that point on, drum & bass has never been the same. Suddenly, we have that big arena rock drum sounds and the extra polished production.
9. Rock The Funky Beat – Natural Born Chillers (Urban Takeover)
If there’s such thing as one hit wonder in drum & bass, The Natural Born Chillers would be it. Released back in 1997 on Mickey Finn & Aphrodite’s Urban Takeover, Rock The Funky Beat defined the Jump up sound of drum & bass. Using sample from Public Enemy’s ‘Caught, Can We Get a Witness?’, ‘Rock The Funky Beat’s easily cross over to the hip hop centric American market. In a way, this track helps break drum & bass to America and in turn to the world.
8. Kerbcrawler – Ed Rush & Optical (Virus)
Any Top 10 list of drum & bass list will not be complete without Ed Rush & Optical. These duo were the major player in late 90’s. Their label Virus along with other label such as Renegade Hardware were responsible for new off shoot of drum & bass called neurofunk. ‘Kerbcrawler’ was released in 2001 and went on to become one of the all time great dnb anthem. One of the few neurofunk tune from that era that is still playable today.
7. Brand New Funk – Adam F (V Recordings)
Adam F was one of the early pioneer of Drum & Bass with his amazing album Colours that contains classic such as F-Jam, Circles, Metropolis. Yet his biggest tune to date is the Bob James sampled dark funk roller ‘Brand New Funk’. It was one of those big tune that everyone wants to get their hands on but they can’t. V Recordings released small numbers of promo shortly after being played by V Recording’s boss Bryan Gee but it was in fact impossible to track down. It was eventually released in 1999 on V Recordings well over a year after it was making noise at raves all over the world. To call ‘Brand New Funk’ big is understatement. It was absolutely the most sought after track at the time.
6. Brown Paper Bag – Roni Size Reprazent (Talkin’ Loud)
Brown Paper Bag comes out at the time when electronic music was touted to be the next big thing back in 97-98. Everyone from rockers, hiphop heads, indie kids to hipster everywhere must love Roni Size Reprazent to be considered as legit music listener. Some critics even went as far as saying ‘Brown Paper Bag’ is the future of jazz. Roni Size Reprazent did live up to its hype with their amazing live performance to back it up. The album ‘New Form’ later on picked up Mercury Prize as best album of the year. There was follow up album to ‘New Forms’. Unfortunately, internal bickering between the members ended Reprazents’ brief but historic tenure as the ambassador of drum & bass.
5. Ready Or Not (Zinc Remix) – The Fugees (White label)
This bootleg was absolutely monster. Released in 1996, it was one of the most sought after vinyl at the time. It was so big that at the time, many non dnb djs such as Paul Oakenfold drop it in the middle of their set. It was the first drum & bass track to have such a huge crossover appeal. The track also use sample from Method Man and Redman’s How High.
4. Midnight (Marcus Intalex Remix) – Un-Cut (Wired)
One of the best drum & bass remix ever, Marcus Intelex turn the original chill out/jazz induced drum & bass into this beautiful soulfull dance floor monster. After this remix, Marcus Intalex became the most sought after remixer, remixing both underground and major label artist such as MJ Cole, Lana Del Rey and many more. ‘Midnight’ also cemented UnCut’s vocalist Jenna G’s position as the new first lady of drum & bass. As for the rest of the UnCut members, they went on to become Future Cut and eventually works in pop music, producing Lily Allen’s debut album.
3. DJ Marky & XRS Featuring Stamina MC (V Recordings)
One of the biggest tune in summer of 2002, this bossanova induced Brazillian drum & bass was the feel good song of the year with that catchy guitar riff and the laid back vocal from Stamina MC. Dropped this and most girls will scream! One of the few timeless classic that still sounds current even when you play them today
2. Original Nuttah – Shy FX & UK Apachi
Yes, the original classic that still drives people bonkers when you dropped them at the right time. This is the classic ragga drum & bass that coin the term jungle. Nuff said!
1. Inner City Life – Goldie (FFRR Records)
This one is the ultimate most important drum & bass song of all time for few reasons. Essentially, Inner City Life was the first drum & bass tune to receive mainstream media attention. Spin magazine listed Goldie’s ‘Timeless’ in End Of Year List 1995 and wrote glowing review about the album and drum & bass in general. That was the first time I’ve ever read about drum & bass and got me looking for drum & bass. Then a year later I accidentally stumbled into the Metalheadz tour with Goldie & Doc Scott at this small club in Irvine, California. Hearing Inner City Life in the proper sound system blew my mind and my life has never been the same ever since. So yeah, this track change my life.
Kosheen – Hide U
London Elektricity – PBE
Usual Suspects – Killa Bees
Bad Company – The Nine
SHY FX – Bambataa
Keeping this list to just 10 tracks turns out to be a lot tougher than I thought. The are so many great tunes that belong in this list. Chime in and leave me your thought about who should be in here and who you think don’t belong in this list.