Music » Music Reviews

Greensleeves Records: Ragga Jungle Dubs


At this time of year, anything with the word "jungle" in it starts to sound pretty appealing. In search of something new (and preferably hot), I decided on this Greensleeves Records compilation which includes dub versions of tunes by Jamaican dancehall greats such as Barrington Levy, Johnny Osbourne, Ninjaman, Josey Wales and Beenie Man. Strictly speaking, nothing on this CD is actually new—if you're in the know, just one look at the title will clue you in. Jungle (the U.K. dance style destined to become drum'n'bass) had its heyday in the '90s, while ragga (short for "raggamuffin" not "reggae") emerged from Jamaica in the late '80s. This collection is a good introduction to the genres. These unreleased cuts and remixes, by Junglist greats like Reel II Reel, Ridley Don, New Blood Crew and DJ Monk, have withstood the test of time. Of course, by definition, dub isn't the most interesting lyrical form; the tracks get repetitive upon close listening. And the samples appearing on this disc resemble the macho posturing common to lots of mainstream hip-hop. For example, it holds six tracks about violence, guns, gangsters and death, but only one that mentions love. On the other hand, the fast, syncopated, bass-heavy beats are perfect for an all-night dance party or a dull morning commute. This is music for your feet and your booty, not your head or heart. This is a CD that will get your feet—and your blood—moving through the cold, dark nights still to come.