Jamie S23 speaks exclusively to one of the most important MCs in the scene, MC Navigator about the jungle revolution. He also gets to spins the infamous wheel on the Drum&BassArena Jungle Roulette. Check it below.
A Jungle Revolution in 2016? What does this mean to you considering the actual jungle revolution has already spun a full circle in your career on more than one occasion?
“In the first instance, to me jungle is revolutionary music, it encompasses the ascension out of the struggle and the expression of emotions through the music that are connected with the elevation out of the place where many of us were and in many cases still are living in bondage, before jungle actually got popular.
The classic jungle era ‘92 to ‘95 is long gone but the music lives on in our hearts, minds and the records. So now the memories are being relieved by the younger generation by way of the resurgence of jungle in 2016.
More importantly this ‘New Frontier’ of jungle means a lot to me simply because it has given me and many others the chance to solidify our reputations as jungle artists and bring a ‘forward to the future’ catalog of jungle classics that relates to the times we are presently living in. It also give us the opportunity to show our full range of song writing skills as artists, as opposed to the sampling era of jungle.
I am not knocking the foundation and the way it was laid, but I am a firm believer in progression, hence my full support, engagement & appreciation for this new phase of creativity in what I think is the most important genre to evolve out of what is known as UK dance or bass music.”
Potential Badboy, Demolition Man and Show Stephens ‘Revolution’ released recently via Playaz Recordings and covers the subject nicely, it’s certainly a clever play on words but do you think people actually get the lyrics? Do you think people adapt what’s being said in the way it’s intended? Speaking of which – how do you relate to the lyrics?
“The tune ‘Revolution’ is a new frontier jungle classic, no question. If people don’t understand Jamaican slang or ‘Patois’ then they might have a problem understanding it. But nowadays most people understand UK born artists with Jamaican heritage because the slang and lingua are not as hardcore as those who live in or visit Jamaica on a regular basis. It’s part of UK culture to understand it because we all grew up with it in London. If people really want to know what it being said they will make it their business to find out.
For instance; I have been going to Germany for many years to perform and have been living in Berlin for the last 6 years, I always wondered what the hell they were talking about when I was with my German friends, because I didn’t fully understand the language, so I did an integrations course and learned the language, now I can speak and write German and understand mostly everything when I’m spoken to. I said all of that to say this: if people really care about music and its message they will make an effort to find out what is being said. If they don’t care (which applies to most people nowadays) then they won’t make the effort, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t like the music. However, I must say that the vocals from Ras Demo and Show Stephens are very infectious and sung with a passion that highlights the message perfectly, I have to say the same thing about Potential Badboy’s production – he knows how to put the elements together in an inimitable way that is full but minimal at the same time.
These guys have made something special here and I recognize and salute that, because it’s something I’ve longed to see happen in jungle for the last 20 years, I’m sure you can all feel my passion for this track.”
If we are talking hits, and by hits I mean those tunes that will feature in DJs sets for years to come. Are we on the same page now as we were 20 years ago in 1996? Considering the amount of releases on offer now is so much greater in volume.
“I would say it’s a similar page but not the same. The music that stands the test of time is simply based on the fact of how it’s received and supported by the DJs who play it on radio and in parties and the punters in the party by way of their reaction to it. Sitting in a studio and making a track, then saying to yourself “Oh my God” this a banger, then sending it out to get other people’s opinions is two completely different things.
One never knows how one’s music will perceived when it’s put out there for the public to judge.
What I would say though is that now there is more scope and wider playing field than we had back then because of the way the music has developed and mutated, plus the global expansion of the music has opened it up to much wider audience than it had back in ‘96.
Everybody has their own opinions about whether it’s a good or bad thing, but in my opinion I think it’s good to see the levels the music has reached over that period of time.”
Talking of ‘96 – here’s a set from the One in the Jungle archives. A time when jungle and drum and bass were both incredible fresh genres. Nothing was standing still and it seemed, at the time, that everyone was just riding the flow and diversity. The set certainly demonstrates this movement but how did it feel to be a huge part of this, especially considering you were already cemented as an integral figure of the moment.
“I felt and still do feel extremely grateful and honoured to have been in that position at that time. I would like to thank Wilbur Wilberforce for his trust and belief in me and the integrity he showed by giving me every opportunity to represent this music on a national radio level, all at a time when it was probably the most important phase in the development of this genre of music.
I managed to carve out a career for myself not only as an MC and an artist, but also developed my hosting and presenting skills in a totally different context to just performing at a rave.
By the way, I will be starting a new show on Pyro Radio very soon where I will be playing a cross section of musical genres to show how diverse my musical taste is, but it will still be relevant to my roots in reggae, dancehall and jungle. I just love the furtherment because it keeps me stimulated.”
I know that the word anthem is a sticking point with you, especially in 2016. Why do you think dancefloor jump up tunes hit the mass spotlight over certified jungle bangers? In your opinion is jungle now a niche genre despite its presumed wider audience? Is ‘being a junglist’ more of a fashion statement for the younger generation?
“Hmmmm very good question. The younger generation have the ‘expendable income’, this noted by the business minds. jump up has replaced what jungle was 20 years ago in terms of what sells records, tapes, tickets etc and fills up the parties.
The mainstream is only interested in what’s ‘Hot’. Lots of jump up ravers still refer to themselves as Junglists because they like jungle too, most of them grew up listening to their older brothers, sisters and parents tape packs, but I would agree that there is a still an element that just wanna be associated with the word Junglist because it’s ‘in’ and ‘cool’.
Then we have to look at the rave concept, If a random event promoter wants to book a jungle act for his party he is going to book one of the few people whose musical catalog or reputation has stood the test of time because they will draw a crowd, end of story. On the other hand if a promoter who really loves jungle music puts a line up together, he will be looking at it with a totally different attitude because he will book DJs and MCs who truly represent what jungle is about and he will want to promote the real foundation of the music and the new school guys who have still been repping jungle relentlessly since the whole jump up thing rose to prominence.
The same thing applies to a jungle banger or jump up banger, it’s just down what is more popular with the public and how much promotion it gets.
We also have to take into consideration that most label owners and the label artist rosters mostly only play their own music and label affiliated artist/producers music. It has become very cliquey as opposed to back in the day when someone would make a killer track, then he would give it to the big boys to cut on dub. The big boys would play it out at parties for months exclusively which would create a demand and then when the track was eventually released it would sell buckets loads on vinyl.
Nowadays with social media and digital formatting, the music has been reduced to almost a ‘business card’ status with people giving bangers away free. I am sure you get my drift, plus who really knows what the future will bring if it has changed so much just in the last 10 years, your guess is as good as mine pertaining to what will happen over the next 4 years when we arrive 2020, I must say I find it all very interesting to say the least.”
The Social Security relick of ‘Lyrical Warfare’ is certainly a hot stepper and a totally different take over the original. Who, if anyone are you sending for on this? Is it intended as a general warning or just a way of airing frustration?
“If I was to send for someone on a track I would call them straight out trust me on that, but on this track it’s more of a case of who the cap fits wear it. This track was instigated by MC Agent who is incidentally a Romanian drum and bass MC and promoter from a beautiful little city called Cluj Napoca on the Transylvanian borderline of Romania. We are very good friends and we had been threatening to do a tune together for a long time. One fine day he sends me the original beat by a producer called Hardplay, I listened to it and loved it and asked what he wanted the subject of the track to be about and he said let’s just vent on a lyrical verbal slant. I said OK and immediately voiced that hook.
When Agent got the hook he called me saying that he loved the hook and was gonna voice the verses, he then sent about 64 bars of lyrics. I liked a lot of it but some of it really struck a chord with me lyrically, melodically and slang-wise, so I edited a 16 bar section of what I liked and sent it back to him and told him to focus and get a solid voicing of that done, which he did to great effect and I loved it. I then voiced my bars to kinda back him up and then we shot the video in East Berlin where it’s just mile after mile high rise blocks which we thought fitted the context of the track very well. We did intend to just drop it as a free download but I played it to Liondub first and he was like “Yoooo Navi this thing is off the chain we should include it in your album” which we have done.
Zooby from Social Security (also a good friend of mine) heard the track and was blown away and asked if he could remix it. He sent me a draft and I was blown away too! He dropped it on Kool FM and the listeners flipped out. Kenny Ken was also at Zooby studio one day and heard the remix and was straight on the phone to me saying “Yo Navi that is a badman track and your flow is next level on this” so I had all this good feedback and confirmations which encouraged me and Liondub to put the package together and ‘voila’ there you have it Lyrical Warfare.
Big up Submatic from Munich and Brain Brainstorm from Cologne who also came with very solid remixes to add to the vibrational presence of this single, much respect!”
Let’s roll some Jungle Roulette – a segment where we present to you a selection of tracks and you give the readers your opinion, memories or whatever comes into your head after pressing the play button. Let’s roll…!
First up the one like DJ Rap and DA BOSS with the classic roller from 1995 ‘I’m So’. This track featured on a huge amount of sets during the mid 90’s and contained that trademark solid bass that only Rap could muster up. It’s certainly a track you would undoubtedly ride the microphone over!
“I can’t actually recall hearing this track played in a party I was at to tell the truth, although it really reminds me of Roundhouse in Camden where Rap & Rebel MC amongst others used to work with Aston (Freestylers) as the engineer. There was just so much amazing music being made at that time. Music House where the dubs used to be cut, where on a Friday night especially, a who’s who of the jungle top flight fraternity would congregate, hanging out listening to beats and cutting plates.
Most definitely a big track and nuff love to DJ Rap as I know how she came up through the ranks.”
Next up we have DJ Biggs with the AWOL anthem ‘The Hunter’. A different vibe to DJ Rap’s ‘I’m So’ however, a true jungle anthem. Any favourite memories of this one? What would the reaction be from yourself if a DJ dropped this one at the weekend? I don’t know about you but the hair on my arms still stand up when the bass drops!
“This track just reminds me of AWOL at Paradise Club Islington, this was my mecca for learning about the music. MC GQ my brother from another mother always had a good word for me, he even said to me one night in Paradise you’re gonna do well Navi just stay focused my brother and he was right.
I remember doing performances from early Saturday night then going home at 3am Sunday to sleep for 4 hours then jump up at 7am and then high-tail it from Broadwater Farm to Chapel Market Islington to buck up with Ragga Twins so we could hear Randall & Kenny Ken back to back from 8am til 10am, party never locked off until 1pm Sunday afternoon, such special times, we never missed one week unless we were touring abroad.
I remember the first time I heard Mickey Finn drop ‘Helicopter Tune’ in there, it was rewound 10 times and not from the MC shouting “when I say rewind” at the top of his voice. Genuine crowd response because the music just took you away without being forced to respond, that is what jungle was about back then.
We used to leave Paradise and go Covent Garden (Gardening Club) for Breakfast Club, Sunday nights was Roast at Linfords or Thunder & Joy at RAW Club, Tottenham Court Road where I first met and spoke to Darren Jay and Stevie Hyper D and more. I am actually flooded with memories from this track and that time period, so I will just leave you to savour these few mentioned here.”
Last up, and certainly fitting is Rampage with ‘The Godfather’. A mixture of Amen breaks and hard stepping vibes featuring that very well known sample. Another track from 1995 which shows how diverse the scene really was back then. How do you find this track now considering it’s age? Has it withstood the test of time?
“This one reminds me of VIP Champagne Bash New Year’s Day 1994 in Camden Palace someone played it or something similar on dubplate. Also that VIP Jungle Hits CD we did with DJ Ron, Moose, 5ive-0, MC Det, Ragga Twins and myself, although this track wasn’t on the CD, also a rave called ‘How the West was Won’ over Bridge Park in Harlesden.
So many people have different memories of these tracks for different reasons, but in my case it was just all part of the vibe, the movement, the camaraderie, the feeling of freedom, the feeling of having an identity with something that was ours in the UK, as opposed to reggae from Jamaica and hip hop from America even though we identified with those genres too because they are also two genre of music that were born out of the need to escape a struggle.
For me music is, has and always will be my refuge, my escape, my saviour, anytime I lost the focus on music in my life I always ended up somewhere where I didn’t want to be and as soon as I switched the focus back to music in whatever context (for instance when I studied in germany to be a sound engineer) the results were amazing and they always led to new avenues opening up, or opportunities or just more knowledge of musical expression technically, physically & spiritually in general and for this blessing I give thanks daily.”
A message to all my fans and interested parties:
Look out for the Navigator debut cross-genre album called ‘ALIGNMENT’ dropping on Liondub International – LIONDUB-ODTMUZIK this summer.
There will many videos and remixes to follow, plus part of the ‘Evolution of a London MC’ series about the last 5 years of my personal & artistic development in Berlin, which is produced by Jamie – Beat Culture London with a soundtrack to compliment.
Navigator would like to big up: Jamie S23 for asking me to do this interview much appreciated, my team at ODT Muzik and Liondub-ODT Muzik, Alaska MC, Liondub, Geek Tekneek, Jamie (Beat Culture), David Boomah, Marcus Visionary, Remarc, Aries, Zooby (Social Security), J Sunz, Bobby London, Shawn T, Jah Lingua, Ranking Joe, Raymond Napthali (one of my sound system MC teachers), Rebel MC aka Cóngo Natty, Congo Dubs, Phoebe Iron Dread, Potential Badboy, Ras Demo, Show Stephens, Sid Young (3rd Eye Records), Kelvin 373, Ragga Twins, Ray Keith, Roni Size, Krust, Jumping Jack Frost, Brian Gee, MC Dynamite, Rob (Stush), Uncle Dugs & Ms Wiggle, DJ Jono (Vibena Jungle), Aman (Jungle Jam) David Rodigan, Bobo El Numreo Uno, Phase One Sound (Tottenham)-Otis & Roland G- (both gave me my first break in sound systems in 1980), Skiffington (BWF original Junglist, Fatman Hi Power, Flip, General P, Mikey Crucial, Militant Dread, Issac Natty, Ribs (Unity Hifi), Leo & Moses (First Choice), Ricky Ranking, Tenor Fly, Top Cat, General Levy, Sweetie Irie, Tippa Irie, Skarra Mucci, Million Stylez, Funsta, Jnr Dangerous, Brother Culture, Virgo Don, Cheshire Cat, Cowboy Ranger, Spyda (Black Tarantula), Lady Chann, Deadly Hunta, Bassman, Trigga, Daddy Freddy, Evil B, Herbzie, Eksman, Skibadee, Shabba D, Stormin, Harry Shotta, Blacka MC, Rieo Sky, Pressure X, KOOL FM Family, Wilbur Wilbeforce (Radio1), Terry T & James (3rd Party Recs), Mark Kemit, Goldie, Reinforced Crew, Freestylers, Valerie M, Sirreal, Asian Dub Foundation, Adrian Sherwood, Uncle 22, Kool Hand Flex (taught DJ Rap the basics), Randall, Fats, De Underground Crew (Forest Gate), Lenny De Ice, Roast Crew, Jungle Fever, William (VIP Champagne Bash), MC Moose (My Godfather Jungle MC), MC GQ (Godfather Rave MC), RIP Stevie Hyper D (miss you bro), Jungle Mania (Bridge & Elliott), UCOJ (Merrix & Jamie G), Simon Goffe (my former manager from 90s), AK 1200, MC Question Mark (legendary LA based MC from UK), Bass Nacho, Noah D, Lost City,Julian Wildgruber (Made Vision Munich, thank you for everything King), Phantom Warrior (Katana Audio), Soultrain (Railroad Entertainmnet), Mr Japs, MC K, Philleye (Saarland Access Crew), Svemir, Mannheim 68er massive, DJ Funksta, Meditation Crew, Royal Rumble, Red Busta Flex,Bassface Sascha, DJ Freeze, MC Shadow (Mannheim), Brian Brainstorm (Köln), Tease (Stuttgart), Frank Topline (Berlin), DJ Rocket (Hannover), MC Stunnah (Celle), Profit – Florian & Martin (Berlin) Basement Studios, Fabian, Lennert, (Berlin) Basi (Red Bull Academy Salzburg) Domenico, (my teacher at Deutsche Pop Academy Berlin) and everyone who has helped, supported and are fans of jungle, Reggae & UK Bass music worldwide especially the ravers who come out to the shows, I salute you all.
Guidance & Protection