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CD: Shy FX - Raggamuffin SoundTape | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Shy FX - Raggamuffin SoundTape

CD: Shy FX - Raggamuffin SoundTape

Staggeringly assured survey of decades of soundsystem culture in a tidy package

Frankly, it absolutely bangs: Raggamuff SoundTape

Everything about this mixtape oozes confidence. It crams 12 tracks plus interludes – all produced by Andre “Shy FX” Williams – into barely more than half an hour. It happily leaves “Roll the Dice”, the single which conquered club and radio and featured Lily Allen, until last. As well as roots reggae, carnival marching bands, lyrically and rhythmically brutal bashment and lashings of the drum'n'bass that Shy FX is best known for, it traverses creepy-crawling avant pop, modernist R&B and moody off-centre hip hop, yet never loses the sense of being a focused party soundtrack. And there's a good three or four tracks just as radio-friendly as “Dice”. Frankly, it absolutely bangs.

Shy FX, though never interested in playing the superstar DJ, has been a presence on the UK scene since he crashed through into the jungle scene in his mid teens in the early 1990s – and has comfortably absorbed each new generation of dubstep, grime and other party music into his Digital Soundboy organisation. And here he's able to weave established grime stars Ghetts and D Double, actor-rapper-poet Kojey Radical, the reggae/dancehall/jungle voices of Chronixx, Sweetie Irie, Stamina MC, Mr Williams and co, male vocals in the mournful style so popular right now from Maverick Sabre and Jvck Jones, the soulful voices of Kate Stewart and Sinead Hartnett, and the more restrained tones of Lily Allen and – most surprisingly – supermodel/actor Cara Delvingne into a coherent whole... and still find space for the brass band version of his 1994 breakthrough hit “Original Nuttah”.

There's no fancy DJ mixing holding it all together, just the classic soundsystem selector's willingness to cut tracks short and bring in abrupt sirens and shouts, and understanding that pacing isn't about simple builds in intensity, but about taking the listener on a rollercoaster ride. All the grit and gloss of London in a party mood is here, crammed into half an hour: it really does take supreme confidence to pull that off, but Shy FX has done it.

@joemuggs

Watch the video for Rudeboy Lovesong (feat. Sweetie Irie and Cara Delevingne)

There's no fancy DJ mixing holding it all together, just the classic soundsystem selector's understanding of taking the listener on a rollercoaster ride.

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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