Navigator: Junglist Sound
Navigator took us right into the deep green undergrowth of the Junglist Sound ep, populated by the likes of Ranking Joe, Liondub, Marcus Visionary, Potential Badboy, Aries and more. He’s been busy, but not so much that he couldn’t fit in a few words… including a flashback to the mighty ‘Mo’ Fire’ for those in a BC state of mind right now.
The Junglist Sound ep certainly seems like a labour of love!
This EP has been a lengthy process with regards to getting the songs and the production right, as all the people involved are perfectionists to say the least.
The ‘Kingston 11’ Potential BadBoy remix had been in working progress for a couple of years as we have been doing so much individual stuff we kept on revisiting it to get it to the best possible level.
‘Chatty Mouth’ was originally recorded for David Boomah’s album in 2012 that came out last year but ‘Chatty Mouth’ didn’t make the cut, so Boomah gave it to me for my album, Liondub and Marcus eventually went in again and tweaked the production until we were all satisfied.
‘Meditation Time’ was originally recorded on a roots reggae riddim in 2013 but I loved the song so much I wanted to get some Jungle remixes done, Boomah introduced me to Aries and between me and him we worked on getting the production to a level of an original full song as opposed to a remix, this process was similar to all of the tracks on the EP, it took a while but with patience and persistence we got there in the end.
‘Junglist Sound’ was Liondub’s idea: he knew that Ranking Joe is one of my heroes as an original Jamaican sound system mic man and recording artist, I used to buy his records when I was a teenager. Joe lives in New York and is friends with Liondub so it was easy to arrange it and with a little help from Marcus Visionary on the production side of things we managed to get a great song out of it.
A few weeks ago Ranking Joe called me saying how much he loved the track, the song, the production and so forth. I was gobsmacked that I was actually talking on the phone to a man that I imitated as a youth to learn how to chat over reggae riddims on sound systems, it was an honour to hear him giving us all props on the work we had put in.
Respect to Liondub for hooking it up and a big thank you to all of the hard work and input from all involved in making this EP release possible.
Speaking of different cities/places, where’s best venues/clubs to hear this sound being played out?
To name a few places…
Jungle Mania puts on very big parties and always have live acts that promote the new frontier of Jungle music from UK vocalists and artists. Always!
Uncle Duggs promotes a very special party called Ribena Jungle that encompasses the whole feel and vibe of old school Jungle music back in the mid 90s time period. Always an uplifting experience so be sure to check one out, tickets normally sell out in 10 mins. Yeah it’s that good!
Jungle Jam in Leeds put on serious Junglist line ups. Always top notch DJs and MCs for entertainment value and they are strict about the music policy; meaning its near as damn it strictly Jungle Music being played.
They recently started the We Love Jungle awards which was a huge success and also had many artists performing their songs live on stage; which is definitely contributing positively to the forward movement of Jungle music on a whole.
Back to the ep and in more detail, can you take us behind ‘Meditation Time’?
Jah Lingua who is an artist/producer living in Berlin, wanted me to voice a roots reggae beat that he had already recorded 4 other songs from different artists on. I really liked the beat and the fact that every song was promoting a conscious message, especially his own version called ‘Syncron’.
When I listened to ‘Syncron’ and saw the video it was like an awakening for me. I then started to piece words and subliminal thoughts that I was already thinking into a lyrical composition.
Then I had to get the hook which came to me by virtue of the fact that I was meditating on Syncron and its message, hence ‘Meditation time, Revelation time ah strictly I and I ah go shine’.
I then started performing the lyrics at Jungle raves and a few people asked what it was, so then I decided to get it remixed into Jungle. David Boomah gave me the link to Aries, then we hooked up and started to get a few ideas beat wise together.
We realised it was not just a remix in the end and had to take the whole production behind the song to another level. Eventually Aries delivered one solid version that we agreed on, then I went to the studio countless times with Aries, pulling sounds out, putting other sounds in, testing, tweaking, mixing down, going back after a month and going in again after hearing something else that we felt needed attention, this went on for many months.
Then Liondub came in as quality control and pointed out some other improvements he felt we could make until finally we were all reasonably satisfied with the end product.
I’m happy with this song for two main reasons: it sounds original and is setting a precedent for the new frontier of Jungle artists in 2015, alongside a few others individuals who are resonating on the same frequency as us. We are all only going to get better at doing this as we make more tracks and gain more experience at what we do.
By the way, the original roots reggae version was never released, so look out for that coming out on one of the official releases affiliated with my debut solo album, which is incidentally entitled ‘Alignment’.
You mention Rankin Joe and growing up, can you share some other memories about the music with us?
Really for me the heyday of what I have done musically was back in the 80s on sound systems. But it’s the whole journey.
From being a wide eyed 16 year old kid looking for a way to get a chat on the microphone at a party, progressing through the ranks, being involved with legendary sound systems through my teenage years, serving my apprenticeship and learning my craft. Looking for that step up to the next level, always seizing opportunities at the right place and time.
The music, the classic music of that time period, like the first half of the 80s was the introduction of rub a dub and reggae dancehall, then from 85 to 1990 came the whole Digital Reggae Dancehall explosion.
I’d joined Unity Hifi in 1985, perfect timing as the music changed. I joined forces with Deman Rockers and Flinty Badman aka Ragga Twins and we started writing lyrics together then we started smashing up dances together as a team.
Ribs – who owed Unity – was best friends with King Jammys from Jamaica, who was championing this new digital reggae sound in Jamaica on his record label, which meant Ribs got everything first exclusively, all these things somehow aligned and propelled Unity and us 3 MCs to reach up in the top bracket of the UK sound system circuit, until ultimately in 1987 we won the coveted Black Echoes best Sound System award.
That whole phase in my musical story will always be held near and dear to my heart because it was the solid basis that I built my career on, and I am very grateful for those 10 years of my life and the amazing experience. Only those who were there can truly understand what I mean, but just imagine all the classic music that still moves parties today just like back then in the original moment.
Truly a great experience that can not be compared because it was so unique.
So who would you particularly like to work with in the scene if you could?
That would be a neverending list, but just to name a few in Jungle D&B,
Vocalists: Ras Demo and General Levy would be top of my list right now; they are both simply great artists and songwriters that I know I would make amazing product with. MC Dynamite is someone whose workrate and progression I have lot of respect for as a vocalist over the last 20 years. What exactly we would do remains to be seen, but trust me I don’t do things by half measures so it would definitely be a heavy collab.
Same applies to Evil B too, he has stepped up his game hard over the last few years, that would also definitely be an interesting project to embark upon. 2nice has some tidy releases under his belt and we have spoken about doing a track and also Eksman is someone I would like collaborate with and we are already getting some stuff together for release next year.
Producers: I’m very happy working with team members Liondub, Marcus Visionary, Potential Badboy, Aries and everyone… but it would be good to so some work with say for instance; Congo Natty, Shy FX, Remarc, Hazard and Original Sin, these producers all have a musical forte that I identify with and I am sure that we would somehow come out of it with a very good end result.
I would like to work with all these people for many different reasons, but the main reasons are the quality of their music and their consistent output that makes collaborating with these great artists so appealing.
I would also like to do further work with DJ Fresh as we already had success with ‘Mo’ Fire’ and Rawhill Cru back in 2003, which I am pretty sure we could repeat again in some form or fashion. Always fire live!
Back to the ep, you mentioned ‘Kingston 11’, could we discover more?
Long story short… 2005 I went to Miami Winter Music Conference and met up with Bass Nacho (the featured singer on – ‘Kingston 11’ – for a recording session for a track on his album. He eventually played me the original Jungle version of ‘Kingston 11’) that he has voiced for Liondub & Jacky Murda in New York.
I liked it so much I flew to New York to meet Liondub and asked if I could put a verse on it, he agreed and we recorded my vocals, but it was never released. Over the years we had a few remixes done that didn’t work and then over time the music was changing, until about 2011 when we decided to look at it again and put some updated production behind it and got some remixes done.
Last year we released the Code Red version ourselves even though it was getting a lot of attention from other big D&B Jungle labels.
The Potential Badboy remix was Liondub’s idea and when we got it back we were both blown away, I had it on repeat for days because of that laid back smooth feeling it gave me, proper musical vibes.
The real original reggae version of ‘Kingston 11’ is sung by a great Jamaican reggae artist called Prince Lincoln (RIP) and the Royal Rasses.
He had a fish shop on West Green Rd in Tottenham where I grew up so this song has sentimental value by virtue of the fact he was a local elder whose music we grew up listening to. I found it very ironic that the way this Jungle version came about was via travelling to Miami and then New York and it now ending up being a Navigator track, when I only asked if I could contribute a verse in the first instance.
These are the things that make me feel so grateful for this music life.
What’s some big shifts in the music that you’ve seen over time? Could be in terms of punters, sound systems, clubs, digital...
I’ve seen music change from Rock and Roll to Pop, to Disco to House, to Acid House. Then I’ve seen the changes from Bluebeat, Rocksteady and Ska to Studio One to Reggae and Dub, to Reggae Dancehall to Digital Reggae Dancehall. From Acid House to Hardcore, to Jungle to Drum and Bass, to UKG to Grime to Dubstep and back.
I’ve seen the switch from real musical instruments to Synths, real vocals to auto tune, and analog to digital in many formats. I’ve seen the Noise Pollution act have its effects on how we run events in the UK, I even made a track called Criminal Justice about the act that got passed back in the 90s to basically stop the illegal parties and have more control over who does what, when and how.
Change is the one thing we can be sure of, nothing ever stays the same forever in this existence we are currently experiencing. So it’s a neverending cycle that always comes full circle over periods of time. That’s why old school will never die, so just trust the process of whatever you’re doing and keep on plugging away because your time is coming, or its coming back around.
And take us into who else is on here guest-wise… I bet was fun.
David Boomah I’ve known for 20 years, we have always been threatening to do a track and it happened eventually in the form of ‘Chatty Mouth’. The song is a very conscious song and has a lot depth musically and melodically. We nailed it in about an hour or so in the studio and we both really love performing the track live together.
Ranking Joe as I said before was contacted by Liondub, we handled the business side and Liondub voiced Ranking Joe in NYC and left the gaps for me. I voiced my vocals during a session at college and sent them back to Liondub, who subsequently went in on the production with Marcus Visionary and ‘VOILA’ we had a dope Jungle song with the veteran himself Ranking Joe: Wow!
Bass Nacho’s father is Kenyatta, a famous reggae singer who used be lead singer for reggae super group Third World, he also wrote that tune ‘Badboys’ in that movie with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, so Nacho hails from a musical background. I just rate Bass Nacho’s voice and vocal delivery highly it’s a very unique style. So look out for more collabs from us in the future.
Jah Lingua is an incredibly talented, mystical character. He has definitely inspired a classic Navigator track with ‘Meditation Time’, which we have recently shot a video for, so look out for that in the near future.
Liondub, Marcus Visionary, Potential Badboy & Aries have played a very integral part in shaping the sound of this EP. I couldn’t have done it without them so respect, where respect is due. But above all it has been fun making this EP and the Navigator album in general because of the vast amount of musical expansion it has allowed me to achieve during the whole process of making and releasing the finished product. It definitely gives me a feeling of job satisfaction.
Where can we find you playing next?
21st September Sunbeatz in Ibiza
24th October at AWOL vs Jungle Mania in Building 6 at the o2 Arena London.
I am resident MC with Uncle Dugs at Ribena Jungle. Look out for the next one!
Big up all Junglists worldwide and all the fans who support this music faithfully.
Big respects out to, Liondub, Alaska MC (Bass Bullies), Marcus Visionary, Aries, Potential Badboy (Jekyl & Hyde Records), Skarra Mucci, Bassface Sascha, General Levy, Jah Lingua, Sticky, Geek Tekneek, David Boomah, Ranking Joe, Bass Nacho, Ras Demo (Inna mi yard Productions), Sid Young (Third Eye Records), Rob (Stush), Bobby London aka Dizzle, J Sunz, Dirty Smirks, Spookasonic, Erbndub, Jacky Murda & all Chopstick Dubplate family, Serum, Roni Size, Guy Called Gerald, Ray Keith, Ragga Twins, Kool FM Family, Eastman & Suzie G, Uncle Dugs & Ms Wiggle, all Ribena Jungle family, Rinse FM, Scratcha DVA, Bridge, Elliott and all Jungle Mania staff, MC Moose, The Roast Crew, Eksman, Remarc, Herbzie, Soultrain Locomotive, Phantom Warrior, Ras Ranger, Deeproots, DJ Freeze, Red Busta Flex, MC Shadow, Caddy Cad, MC LA, DJ Lush, Capital B, Virgo Don, Profit Berlin, Lady Chann, Top Cat, Tenor Fly, Congo Natty Family, MC Supa, Natalie Storm, Deadly Hunta, Serocee, Lone Ranger, Johnny Osbourne, DJ Afghan, Ma Rumba, SouLove Records, Liondub International, Funlife Music, ODT Muzik, Bad Monkey Records, Tony Anthem, Jahdan Blakamore, Tippa Irie, Sweetie Irie, MC Agent, Cheshire Cat, 2nice, Krust, Jack Frost, Brian G, B Live, Skiba, Harry Shotta, Stormin, Dreps, Jnr Dangerous, Funsta, Ricky Ranking, Champian and the Tighten up crew, Mark Professor and the Wreck it up crew, Ribs Unity Hifi, Selah Collins, Kenny Knots, Peter Bouncer, Adrian Sherwood, Julian Wildgruber & Popeye (Made Vision), Rebel Sound, Stephan Rocket, Jamie Beat Culture, Code Red, Dread FX, Shablo, Black Tarantula aka MC Spyda, Japs E and the Access crew, Judge D, DJ Gladiator, Iceman, MC Stunnah, Frank Topline, Trevor Sax, Gappy Crucial, Senator Zero, T Dubz, Skiffy (RIP), Stevie Hyper D (RIP), Matthew Gayle, Wilber Wilberforce, Aman, Tom, Gigante & all Jungle Jam & We Love Jungle staff, and to DNBA for working so long and hard, pushing Jungle DnB over the years.
I salute you all and may the future be bright forevermore.
I said, I mean it, SO BE IT.