I don’t think I have ever been more excited to share a mix. This one is truly epic and was nearly a decade in the making. Here’s how my co-curator and fellow raggamuffin hip-hop archaeologist Wayne Marshall put it.
Pace and I have been geeking out over these records since we met a decade ago, and we were scheming on a raggamuffin hip-hop megamix well before we even had an outlet for it. Pace’s collection goes deeeeep, especially when it comes to Boston rap rarities and party-break white labels, and of course my “dissertation archive” (as I like to call my CD and MP3 collection) helped to flesh things out.
Other than being far too modest about his side of the collaboration (“helped flesh things out”…indeed), I could not have said it better.
The combination of breakbeats and dancehall-inspired toasting that we capture here (as opposed to the related — and as yet unnamed — sub genre of rap vocals over dancehall inspired riddims) has always been a favorite of mine. I think I first became aware of this style while listening to “Rockers” on 88.9 WERS in the late 1980s. Or maybe it was actually Magnus who turned me on to it on Lecco’s Lemma, come to think of it. Perhaps the first track that really made it clear to me was The Jam (the Shabba Ranks / KRS-One collabo that we ironically do not include in this mix). I know I had registered the “reggae” sound in earlier BDP tracks like “The Bridge is Over” and “The P is Free”, but I don’t think those were the ones that really nailed it for me. Heck, perhaps it was the locally produced hit, Sorry Part 2, by Boston’s own Jr. Rodigan, that caught my attention with its mashup of Tracy Chapman, Soul-to-Soul and that disticntive ragamuffin vocal style that I would only later come to know as Jr. Rodigan’s signature sound.
But I digress. Whenever I first registered the power of this cross cultural concoction of gritty breaks and ragga vocals, it quickly became a passion and I began actively seeking out additional examples, especially local ones, and the earlier the better.
The quest for reggae influences in rap got really crazy when I met Wayne about a decade ago and realized he was panning the same musical streams with a much smaller mesh than I (and watched in amazement as he carefully traced the tributaries of the ubiquitous Zunga Zeng riddim). I was soon sending him micro titrations of reggae influences wherever I heard (and often imagined) them.
As I added this sub-genre to my regular record missions, I found that in the 1990s and early 2000s, these tracks were being overlooked even at even at digger temples like A1 Records in NY, let alone more regional record backwaters. I soon realized that there were both deals to be had in the reggae 12″ bins, and that versions of dancehall tunes sometimes contained precious accapellas and even, once and a while, the holy grail — a previously unknown gritty hip-hop remix. Once I discovered treasure troves like Massive B / Bobby Kondors and started realizing how well mid 90s raggamufin rap tracks held up on the dance floor over the years, I became completely hooked. Indeed, I am still finding golden era raggamuffin gems that have not seen nearly enough light and have included many of my favorites in this mix.
The craziest part of this mix for me is that despite clocking in at a hefty 94 minutes and 48 tracks, we basically only deal with the first decade of this sub genre (from roughly 1986-1994). As we say in the writeup (which is being hosted at the IASPM-US), we didn’t let cut off dates prevent us from developing themes or including some important outliers. And perhaps owing to the almost unfathomable depths of our combined crates, we still had to cut lots of great tracks (from the aforementioned Shabba/KRS collabo The Jam, to Tiger’s rugged Who Planned It which features Q-Tip, and many, many more).
In addition to being happy to finally get this mix out, I am especially excited that we have managed to release it along with two written pieces that provide some important context and may reach some new audiences. The first is a piece by Wayne for Cluster Mag’s special issue on parties that provides “a theorization and historicization of hip-hop and reggae as quintessential party musics.”
>> Wayne Marshall, “When Reggae Roamed the Earth.” Cluster Mag, Issue 4, Oct 2013.
The second co-authored (but definitely Wayne-led) piece has been published at the blog of IASPM-US, which as Wayne puts it: “issued an admirable “call for mixtapes” earlier this year” We could not resist the synergy and opportunity to share this mix — and the idea of “mix-as-scholarship” — with a more academic audience.
Here’s the tracklist and the permanent download link for those who want to follow along. I hope you enjoy it, and as Fred would say, yabba dabba doo.
Pace’s 1st mini-set:
Asher D and Daddy Freddy, “Ragamuffin Rub-A-Dub-Apella” (1987)
UTFO, “Pick up the Pace” (1985)
Asher D and Daddy Freddy, “Ragamuffin Hip-Hop” (1987)
Soul Dimension, “Trash and Ready” (1987)
Asher D, “Asher’s Revenge” (1988)
Asher D and Daddy Freddy, “Brutality” (1988)
Boogie Down Productions (BDP), “The Bridge Is Over” (1987)
Wayne’s 1st mini-set:
BDP, “The Bridge Is Over” (1987)
Shinehead, “Know How Fe Chant” (1988)
Just-Ice ft. KRS-One, “Moshitup” (1988)
JVC Force, “Puppy Love” (1988)
Masters of Ceremony, “Sexy” (1988)
Just-Ice, “Lyric Licking” (1988)
Masters of Ceremony, “Master Move” (1988)
Shinehead, “Gimme No Crack” (1988)
BDP, “The Bridge Is Over” (1987)
Pace’s 2nd mini-set:
BDP, “The Bridge Is Over” (1987)
Don Baron, “Young Gifted and Black” (1988)
Longsy D & Cut Master M.C. “Hip-Hop Reggae” (1987)
Sonya Alleye ft. Junior Rodigan, “Sorry Part 2” (1989)
Prento Kid, “Killer” (1997)
Motion w/ Ruffa “Gangsta” (1995)
Waynie Ranks, “Send Me” (1992?)
Wayne’s 2nd mini-set:
Poor Righteous Teachers, “I’m Comin Again” (1991)
Poor Righteous Teachers, “Easy Star” (1991)
Poor Righteous Teachers, “Shakiyla” (1991)
Fu-Schnickens, “Ring the Alarm” (1991)
Fu-Schnickens, “Generals” (1991)
Poor Righteous Teachers, “Strictly Mashion” (1991)
Fu-Schnickens, “Bebo” (1991)
Daddy Freddy, “Raggamuffin Soldier” (1992)
Pace’s 3rd mini-set:
Unknown, “Sound Bwoys Revenge” (199?)
Cutty Ranks, “Armed and Deadly” (1996)
Lady Saw, “No Long Talking” (1996)
DJ Excel, “Off the Hook” (199?)
Kenny Dope, “Axxis” (1992)
The Filler, “Rockin Mix” (199?)
Kenny Dope, “Supa” (1991)
Jamalski, “Let’s Do It In The Dancehall (TNT Hip Hop Mix)” (1990)
Roxanne Shanté, “Dance To This (Dance To Cee’s Zunga Zunga Mix)” (1992)
Jamalski, “A Piece Of Reality (Your Name Here Mix)” (1992)
Wayne’s 3rd mini-set:
Raw Fusion, “Hip Hip/Stylee Expression” (1991)
Dr. Dre, “Let Me Ride” (1992)
Dr. Dre, “Lil Ghetto Boy” (1992)
Dr. Dre, “The Day the Niggaz Took Over” (1992)
Daddy Freddy, “Jah Jah Gives Me Vibes” (1992)
Jamal-Ski, “Jah Jah Vibes” (1993)
Jamal-Ski, “Texas Rumpus” (1993)
Born Jamericans, “Instant Death Interlude” (1994)
Jamal-Ski, “African Border (Skeffington Mix)” (1993)
Slick Rick, “A Love That’s True, Part 2” (1994)