Jamie S23 catches up with MC Juiceman, a legend in both the jungle and UK garage scenes who really hasn’t seen the credit he deserves. Why’s that? Only one way to find out…
Take us back, way back to when you had your first taste of the scene. What was it that attracted you to the underground movement at the time?
“It was 1988 and I was initially into house music. From 1985 coming from the early hip hop age, my first ever rave was Utopia at Skew Bridge, Rushden. I remember seeing Top Buzz and The Prodigy and after that night I was hooked. Back then I was a rapper so after these experiences it was just a natural progression for me.”
What DJs were you on the lookout for when picking up flyers from record shops? Who inspired you to pick up the MIC?
“I was a Top Buzz fan initially but can’t forget the likes of Bryan Gee, Donovan ‘Bad Boy’ Smith, Jumping Jack Frost, Randal, Ray Keith – all of them. Mad P was the main person who inspired me to bless a microphone.”
Many of the MCs from the early 90’s had very unique styles, take for example MC Scratchmaster Techno or Mad P, two very different artists with very different takes on being an MC. How did you craft the Juiceman style?
“I used to chat on a reggae sound system and rap so because most were just hosting and not really spittin’ lyrics I thought my style would work perfectly. Mad P used to drop a 16 bar and it sounded wicked. DJ’s would play tracks with breaks, spittin’ those styles was a perfect combination.”
Milwaukees, a name no doubt close to your heart. In the early 90’s this club was packed week in week out with like minded ravers with yourself and Hooligan at centre stage. How did the original link up happen?
“I became resident at Milwaukee’s in 1991, progressed to ESP Dreamscape and Helter Skelter and many other events before Dez took over and came into our old record shop and asked me if I could do a night for him.
I was resident for a year, Ratty brought Hooligan to do a set as I was MCing all nights and we needed to switch it up. I asked for him to join the ranks which he did and became a resident and a big part of Milwaukee’s history.
When you listen back to MCs from this era it’s very much a freestyle flow and not so reliant on pre written lyrics. One thing many have commented on is your ability to maintain this standard of delivery, how do you manage it?
“It’s just the years of rapping and chatting, it’s all I’ve ever known from a young age. When I am on the microphone it’s a spiritual thing to me. I can talk about anything and follow the next MC with what there talkin’ about – I love freestyling.”
Moving forward to 1994 and the legendary Evolution events. Was this the first time you had witnessed a whole night dedicated to the under 14’s? What was your reaction like the first time you saw The Sanctuary full of kids blowing whistles and horns non stop?
“It was the first time seeing an under 18’s event and The Sanctuary, it was the biggest venue at the time and it was rammed, the kids loved every minute. I used to jump in the crowed and MC with them. Vibes! Big up Dave Mercer and the Evolution team, the biggest and best under 18’s event ever – FACT”
So what’s next? Jungle has literally blown up everywhere and with the likes of Helter Skelter, Hysteria and Pure X booking you for every event what was it like at the time for an MC? Did you feel pressure at any point in terms of lyrical competition from anyone else
“I’ve never really felt nervous but the real big parties you have to work harder. No MC has put any pressure on me, it’s probably been the other way around! I think they’re all a talented bunch of guys though, salute to all the MCs putting in the work.”
Your partnership with Hooligan was forever present during jungle’s golden era, how did this link up happen? Do you have any favourite memories of your work together?
“Yes! Hooligan and I smashed a lot of dances – Pure X, Hysteria, Psychosis. It was always a pleasure to collaborate with him. The last event was Fantazia ‘Superheroes’ alongside Nicky Blackmarket. Heavy set! Big up to my sparing partner.”
If you could go back to back with another MC at an event, past or present, who would it be any why?
“Spyda, Bassman, MC Mad P, Conrad and Trigger to name but a few. They just know how to levels up the place, these guys know the job inside out and to be on a set with these man was always a pleasure. New MCs such as Marga, Spartans, Corporal, Nutcracker and Harry Shotta – I love bussin’ up a set with these guys. Bless every time.”
Talking of link ups, many DJs link with MCs on a regular basis. Who was your go to DJ back then and who do you roll with a regular basis now? Do you have one favourite DJ who you have yet to work?
“I’ve always run with Donovan ‘Bad Boy’ Smith, what a DJ he is – world class. He taught me the music and he’s always got dutty beats. He’s family to me and we still link up to put together mixes. Big up the bad boy Smith. Two DJs I am working with at moment are Ricochet and Dungun Beats, they smash any party and they’ve shocked a lot of people in this scene. United, we go by the name of ‘Filth Camp’.
I want to get your memories on some tracks from different parts of your career. Click the links below and type whatever comes into your head first when listening. Any memories from the tune or anything that springs to mind is great.
Terrorize ‘It’s Just A Feeling’ released in 1991
“This track was huge, all the DJs used to play this at all the events back in the day. Proper skanking riddim.”
DJ Spinback ‘In Effect’ released in 1993
“Here’s another banger from the hanger. Spinback always made some fire, big producer and another rave classic dancefloor killer.”
DJ Gunshot ‘Wheel Up’ released in 1994
“I used to like this in Milwaukee’s, Dreamscape and Helter Skelter days. I’ve heard this track go off many a time, another timeless banger.”
L Double & Shy FX ‘The Shit’ released in 1996
“These 2 DJs are fire, this tune smashes up a dance even now. L Double is a bad man producer and Shy FX is a true anthem builder.”
Global Gathering in 2004 is hailed by many as one of the best of it’s time in terms of drum and bass sets. When you listen to this back now, how does it make you feel to have been part of such a legendary event?
“It was massive to be involved with Global Gathering, the sets we played were always big. We got the place firing! The vibe was next level.”
When you see flyers for events in 2016 what are your feelings regarding the line ups? Are they diverse enough? Do you think the same people are booked at event event? What advice would you give promoters in terms of line ups? Is there still a place for multi genre single rooms?
“Always try and come different. Yes a lot of MCs are on the same flyers but if they’re on fire then fair play to them because they are the MCs that the ravers want to hear.”
If you had to pick one tune, from any era to summarize the essence of underground dance music, what would it be and why?
“It’s got to be ‘Pulp Fiction’, when that tune starts the ravers go mad every time! It’s a timeless rydem, i’ve heard it thousands of times and it kills a rave. I remember hearing that drop at Milwaukee’s and it’s the same vibe today – big tune salute.”
Where can fans catch you next? Any plans on the UK garage tip?
“Catch me in Coventry at the next ‘Big Boy Business meets Philly Blunt’ it’s going to be a big night. Kidderminster on 27th March, London Egg alongside Randall 29th April. There’s more too so look out for us out and about.”
Any finally, what would your advice be to new MCs currently trying to climb the ladder?
“Just come with your own identity and lyrical style. It kills me when I hear 20 MCs all sounding the same, it’s also very boring. Host and interact with the ravers, it’s all about gettin the crowd with you then smash it! Keep it nice and be the best person you can be, get your business in check because when understand that, you could have a big career. Big up all the MCs out there grinding and keepin it moving.”