25 Years of the Ragga Twins Tribute; Artist and Raver Exclusive
Words by Michael Eedle
People’s opinion differ on when it is that summer really begins. Officially june 21st was the longest day of the year, the solstice, and the start of the summer, but in the world of Drum n Bass it had to be the 4th of July, as club Fire in Vauxhall played host to a night of music to celebrate 25 years of the Ragga Twins, AKA Flinty Badman & Deman Rockers.
The day around London had been a hot one, with many ravers sunning it out at BBQs and parks, and almost everyone enjoying a cold beer or cocktail. Natural progression when the booze kicked in and the chicken wings had digested, had to be a night of music and what better style than hitting up one of London’s most regular haunts for DnB. Fire boosts two rooms which is perfect for a night like this, with promoters Jungle Mania (where the twins feature frequently) having a line up not only of Old skool Legends, but also New Skool game changers, to cater for both the Jungle and the Jump Up crowd. So large was the line-up the only dilemma Dnbmuzik really faced during the night was deciding who to miss and who to watch, while catching artists on the hop to ask their thoughts on the night and most importantly the night’s hosts.
The queue had already formed by the time Dnbmuzik arrived, we received a friendly greeting from Jungle Manias leading man Anthony Bridge as always, before entering with the ravers lucky enough to hold a VIP wristband, the floor filling quickly and music already underway. There is no backstage area for artists at Fire, meaning the Mcs and Djs often mingle in the Smoking area. This is great for punters, who get to get to grab that all important photo or have a few words with the artists.
First person I see on an early flex, having a quick fag and more than happy to chat about the Twins, is Stormin’ MC. In no little excitement with much gesturing he tell us; Tonight means a big,big, big, huge, MASSIVE deal…They had a massive impact on my life, i remember when I was like 4 years old and my mum use to play them in the kitchen! So to be here on a bill like this and be able to come here is a massive feeling, unexplainable. From the days dem man were screaming ‘Ragga Twins Deh Bout!’ Stormin was locked in, you feel me? The main set I’m looking forward to has to be the Ragga Twins, it’s what we’re here for. I’m with Phantasy tonight and it’s good to go. Before I leave the man to the mercy of a gathering crowd of fans, this mention of Phantasy prompts me to ask how the SASASAS tour has been, as the artists are all performing here tonight alongside different Djs; We have been going really good, last night we were in Brighton, we have done Barcelona, Germany, we have got loads more coming up, it’s non stop, we are on our toes but it’s all good.
It’s not just artists who have memories of growing up listening to these boys either. Over the course of night I found ravers with only nice words about the Twins. Jason Lovell, originally from East London but now living in Northern Ireland is here to skank it out with his two sisters. He tells me; I’ve travelled all the way over to listen to the Ragga Twins, i’ve been dancing to these boys since I was 14 years old in 1996, it’s a big thing.
Luke Young, Slough, highlights the feelings of many. Paying tribute he says; The music that brought us together was the Ragga Twins. The culture, what they do for the community, what they give back to the community, they are not afraid to say who they are, to be original, they have brought music from the roots, brought music to me, to appreciate what music is. So without them, without the likes of Slipmatt, without Shut Up and Dance, we wouldn’t be where we are today. I Appreciate that, and Thank you!
Dnbmuzik hit the room one from the start, this will be the location for the first of two sets from Twins in the early hours of sunday morning. This is clearly the Jungle room with Slipmatt and Billy Daniel Bunter, taking ravers back in time, playing bouncy old skool classic meaning a happy up-beat vibe from the off. It takes a good while before we think about checking out the Jump up, but after dipping our head into the second room to be greeted by the unmistakable image of Guv bouncing off the inside of the Dj booth, we decide it best to stay and have the first proper skank of the night ourselves.
Fire is never the coolest place even early on and at full capacity it’s a good idea to have beverage in hand at all times. At least thats my excuse. It’s an early pit stop at the bar that reveals the Ragga Twins are in fact already about, and I think it in the best interest of all that we ask them our questions sooner rather than later. Luckily I find the two brothers well aware of Dnbmuzik and they are more than prepared to step outside for some quick questions.
As we today celebrate such an epic milestone in the music industry I challenge the boys to mention something that really stood out. I await the generic ‘two many to mention”, but Deman Rockers is quick to answer; In the 25 years we have been The Ragga Twins, there have been loads of standout moments. The pinnacle of the stand out moments was meeting James Brown, supporting him at a show in Norway and then touring with Shabba Ranks in ‘92 all over the UK. Even the first time we did a big show with The Prodigy, we didn’t even know what the Prodigy was, but we headlined and obviously they went on to do big things…. Lately, we have done a few tracks with Skrillex.
Next I ask Flinty Badman to take us back to the beginning, back to where the Twins realised they had something new to give to the music industry and more specifically to Drum N Bass; When we met ‘Shut up and Dance’ (the production team behind much of the twins early work/collaborations at the start of the 90’s). We were just leaving the Reggae scene and we were looking for a different path. ‘Shut up and Dance’ came and approached us and said he wanted to sample us, and at that time I knew if we can get in this t’ing and make a difference, we will have a nice long career… and so we did! At that time I knew this was the music… but it’s not just this music, we are still doing Reggae, Hip Hop, Jazz, we have done a lot of different genres. It’s not like we jumped on this and we stayed on this, we are across the board, you know what I mean?
Continuing I ask Flinty about more recent material, he tells me the reaction has been good; We got a single out with Seanie T called ‘For the people’, every single we put out it might not be a hit record, we get a good response, that’s what we want. We had a track out Yesterday with Benny Page called ‘When you shake it’ and were gonna do it tonight, 1.30 were on tonight. Were about! We’re here until 8am!
The boys even now, seem so relaxed and happy talking together, reminding me of the unique connection on stage we have come to enjoy! How do they coordinate their back-to -back sets so well? Rockers informs me; We have been working with each other for a long time, from the sound system days of Unity, so we learnt how to bounce off eachother, we learnt each others lyrics so we can jump in and say bits and pieces of each others lyrics and, we have just grown a reputation together. We kind of know when for me to come in, like we haven’t practised, but we have done it so many times, he knows when to stop and i’m going to say that peice, then he knows when to come back in… and we just work beautifully together. For 25 years we have done this thing, we’re brothers, I love him, hes my brother from the same mother, same father and it’s been a pleasure, having him as my Ragga twin!
It’s all love inside! It’s another night with Jungle Mania, yet more artists asking the label to promote landmark events for birthdays and the anniversaries. I’m well aware that the Twins have performed at many occasions with the JM team and want to know about the relationship. Flinty comes in on this; Big up Bridge, big up Inter, the Jungle Mania staff, ‘nuff respect for helping us, putting this on. We have been working with Bridge for a long time, before Bridge was even big in promotion, we did some little venues with him where he gave us a budget and we bought Djs and artists and i’m glad he’s made a name in the promotion side of things. We are just happy to be here, have a party and hope everyone has a good time! Already we have a lot of people showing us love. Rockers takes over, telling me; When we knew we were going to do this, we decided bridge was the one we were going to ask, because as Flinty said, he’s been with us from when he got this Jungle Mania, Definition and Breaking Science and he has always had us on his bills, we got a good repertoire with him, we work well with him, he knows us, we know him! With so many famous faces and fans waiting to have a moment with the duo, Dnbmuzik feel privileged to get the time of two men who have so much love for the music and so much respect for the people involved in the scene. Rockers finishes with a friendly banter with some waiting punters singing happy birthday, in a flamboyant lyrical style he reminds us, Ain’t no Birthday, Anniversary! he shouts. Smiling he adds; Big up Dnbmuzik.com for having this interview, ‘Nuff Respect!
So what did other artist on the night have to say about the duo? One of the artists Dnbmuzik were keen to catch up with was Evenson Allen from the Rat Pack, one of the few people in the building who have been rockin the Old skool for decades, much like the twins; I had a great relationship with the Ragga Twins over the years before they were even on the old skool thing, in the early days when I was a sound system, from then I always used to listen to those guys and I’ve always had the maximum respect for them and that’s the reason why I’m here today, because I love them not just as artists but as great mates, I’ve got all the time in the world for them.
We also caught some final words with and this years award winning old skool drum n bass MC (The official DnB awards 2015) and man mountain Det MC; I’ve been growing up listening to dem guys, their fantastic… since I was a kid! So obviously it’s a great pleasure to be on their party and they have obviously just gone from strength to strength. They are close to me because they come from an area, close to where I live… They are big celebrities in my area.
With the party rollin’ until 8am it seems these boys still have got the stamina and thankfully won’t be going anywhere any time soon. Their sets go off big time, ‘All in check’, getting the best reaction from the crowd tonight.
As you might imagine the list of different yet warm messages and accolades crediting Deman and Flinty as artists, friends and pioneers, from fans and MC’s alike, has been a real eye opener. For Dnbmuzik it’s time for a well deserved dance and and a cold Captains… the Ragga Twins are about in style!
The Ragga Twins enjoying a memorable night
MC Det & MC Fearless