The Genius of…
The term genius is one that still holds weight in an age where many words have lost their meaning through overuse. When you think about genius it conjures up the image of someone whose talent and intellect extends way beyond that of the everyday person, whose work changes lives and who creates positive shifts in their chosen profession. Sadly, some of these exceptional human beings are no longer with us, like Marcus Intalex for example. Marcus Kaye was a drum’n’bass jungle powerhouse whose consistency and uncompromising approach to quality led to the creation of an unparalleled catalogue of productions.
Marcus became active as a DJ back in 1991, and committed himself to club music in Manchester and beyond for 26 years up until his death in 2017. His tunes were universal, coveted by selectors from across the board - from the jump up DJs to those who pushed a more atmospheric sound. The music transcended genre classification, achieving that delicate balance between mass appeal and credibility. Marcus made music from the heart because that’s what he loved doing and his unwavering passion shone through on each and every one of his timeless releases.
From the very first jungle track he made (with Mark XTC as Da Intalex, named after their radio show on Kiss 102FM in Manchester), ‘What Ya Gonna Do’ got his production career off to a flying start. Made in 1994, it has stood the test of time with its lush melodic intro sampling Mary J.Blige, standing proud alongside the rest of his bountiful discography. His other releases on Flex Records were of a similarly high standard, setting a benchmark from which he never strayed.
In 1997 he teamed up with Lee Davenport AKA ST Files, initiating a production partnership that was to be career defining. As Marcus Intalex and ST Files they created the kind of music that is only possible with the freedom presented by drum’n’bass; jazz, soul, funk, boogie, darkness, light, groove, melody… produced with skill and panache. When ‘How You Make Me Feel’ and ‘Neptune’ dropped on Doc Scott’s 31 Records in 1999 they became ubiquitous, with support from all the scene’s most influential selectors. Fabio, in particular, hammered the EP on Radio 1.
Over the next couple of years a series of classic productions followed on from ‘How You Make Me Feel’ - including ‘Taking Over Me’, ‘Love & Hapiness’, ‘Dreamworld’, ‘Universe’ and ‘Lose Control’ - all of them encapsulating a sound that elevated dance floors and touched the hearts and souls of ravers all over the planet. “He just made amazingly beautiful tunes,” Andy C says. “I’m still playing ‘Temperance’ loads. You had to pick your moments to be able to play his tunes in the kind of venues I was playing because, at that point in time, I wasn’t playing in the kind of clubs that those tunes were born out of. I always played them though, and it just felt so good to be up there finding mixes for them because they’re such good quality.”
In between his DJ and production duties Marcus also found time to set up the seminal label Soul:R, signing and releasing some all-time classic drum’n’bass cuts. The label grew rapidly, benefitting from Marcus’ keen ear for quality music, building a tight-knit family around the platform. Core artists included Marcus himself, ST Files and Calibre with appearances from Marky and XRS, D.Bridge and more. The label, and sub-label Revolve:r, was a go-to for a wide range of selectors, young and old, established and up and coming - with a massive fanbase and nothing but quality on every single release. “He was a person who knew how to make tunes with maturity. They were expertly crafted, Marcus was absolutely unbelievable at that. It’s a legacy of thoughtful productions. He was a connoisseur and you can hear that in the music he made. He definitely didn’t have time for anything that wasn’t high quality!” Andy C tells us.
Alongside the label, Marcus organised regular Soul:ution parties in Manchester and weekly Guidance shindigs as well. The events allowed him to express his full musical range without the worry of having to pander to what a promoter wanted. In an interview on Fabio’s Radio 1 show back in 2003 Marcus admitted he preferred playing shows outside the UK because of the freedom he experienced. At Soul:ution he was able to run things exactly how he wanted and, of course, the parties were a total success.
After the flurry of outstanding releases in the early 2000s Marcus’ drum’n’bass exploits continued in a similar vein, with releases on Metalheadz, C.I.A and Hospital all upholding his core values and establishing him as one of the scene’s most accomplished artists. When he moved into the techno realm with his Trevino alias, Marcus further demonstrated his expertise with a series of polished cuts landing on labels such as 3024, Klockworks, The Nothing Special, Aus Music, Hotflush and his own Birdie imprint.
Consistent, hard working and inspiring, Marcus was universally loved and respected for his music and as a person. His music will live on forever, still sounding as fresh now as it did when it was first made. Touching the lives of countless people all over the planet, it’s a musical legacy that will stand the test of time.
“We owe it to the memory of people like Marcus to keep these tunes alive and they will be kept alive because of the tunes they are,” Andy tells us. “They’ll be played forever. They’re part of the heritage, part of the foundation of the scene.”
STEVIE HYPER D
When it comes to the art of MCing, most of today’s best-known stars wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for one man… Stevie Hyper D. Widely regarded as a pioneer who took the discipline to a whole new level, Stevie’s legacy is undeniable. A natural born entertainer, his stage presence was magnetic, filling every raver with energy and smashing up dances all over the world. Stevie’s appeal was universal thanks to his charisma, positivity and ridiculous flow. Add to that his versatility - rapping, MCing, singing, he could do it all while putting a smile on everyone’s faces. Stevie encouraged positive vibes only. He was one of a kind, an innovator who set the standard for all who followed. Stevie Hyper D was in a class of his own and here we celebrate the legend himself…
“If you think about the things that make someone a star, Stevie had all those elements,” says Darrel Austin, Stevie’s nephew and the man behind the Hyper D Legacy Project. “Growing up and seeing the whole process the he went through, from dancehall days sneaking out the house at the age of 13 to go and see him perform at the local shoobs and blues parties, to what he became in mid-’92.”
As the reggae scene became less appealing, due to Jamaican artists being favoured over UK performers and dancehall growing in prominence, Stevie found himself drawn to the rave scene. “He went to his first rave in ‘87/’88. I remember them getting into a mini van and heading out,” says Darrel. “The funny thing was, they didn’t come for a couple of days. Everyone was worried about him! When he came back it was like he’d had an epiphany and he decided from then on that he wanted to be part of the rave scene.
This was the acid house era, a time of revolution, the genesis of all that we know now as rave culture. Stevie started practising in these early days and immediately found his flow. “His hip hop flowed worked really well with the abstract beats of acid house,” Darrel explains. “Steve watched what the MCs were doing, people like Doug Lazy and Chalky White, and realised he couldn’t come with the ‘ragga’ thing. Jungle hadn’t arrived yet, so the ragga thing wasn’t doing it, so he went with more of a hip hop style.”
By 1989 he’d started to find his own sound, coming from a more lyrical foundation rather than the majority of MCs at the time who were either straight up comperes or using a ragga style. “If you listen to tapes from that era, no other MC was doing what Stevie was doing. He developed his own routine and style that set him apart from everyone else,” Darrel tells us. “It was a more hardcore style. By the end of 1992 and ‘93 more lyrical MCs started to surface. They’d have verses and a chorus, and I’d say Steve set that template.”
“Everybody was still learning at that time. A few MCs would have some 8-bar rhymes, but Stevie took it a step beyond that, which is what you hear from most of today’s MCs,” Darrel adds. “He was able to mix the reggae and hip hop into his own English style.”
Stevie practised religiously, spending hours in his room writing lyrics, trying them out, refining and trying them out again. “My God, he practised like an athlete,” Darrel says. “He’d get up in the morning, grab his pad and write some lyrics then go to his room to practice. DJs would be sending him mixtapes and he would use them to practise on.”
As acid house split into numerous genres, Stevie was right there in the thick of it moving into the hardcore realm. He even recorded a tune with Apollo 440 called ‘Teknoragga’ in 1991. Back in the raves, he was earning his stripes bringing his fresh approach to the raves and captivating dance floors all over London. Not only could Stevie rip up the dance with his versatile delivery, but he was also a master at knowing when to let the music breathe, to allow the DJs to mix without interruption and embellishing the music, not overpowering it. This may all sound like common sense, but this kind of considerate attitude can often be lacking when MCs are concerned. Not with Stevie, he was a consummate professional who appreciated the art of DJing just as much as the art of MCing, building a symbiotic relationship with the selectors who performed with, including his partner in crime Nicky Blackmarket. You can hear it on any recordings he appears on, it’s a special skill to have because it amplifies the music, and make the MC’s lyrical assault even more deadly. Darrel compares his first experience of seeing Stevie in action to witnessing a concert, “It was like seeing De La Soul or Ice Cube. He considered the DJ, he considered the punters and that combination was what made him so special,” he says. “He wasn’t aggressive in his lyrics, he was very ‘peace and love’. He kept that acid house feeling in his rhymes.”
As jungle began to break out, Stevie’s double time delivery, of which many say he was the pioneer, worked perfectly hyping up crowds at all the raves he appeared at. The birth of jungle music provided the perfect platform for Stevie, the stage was set for the next phase of his blossoming career. He became a resident at the seminal Telepathy night, a weekly party that was held at the Wax Club in Stratford, east London.
“One night the promoter Sting came up to me and said, ‘On your set I’ve got this new guy coming down, I wanna test him out and see what he’s like on the mic…’ Andy C tells us, explaining the moment he was paired up with Stevie at Telepathy, back in 1993.
“Needless to say, he smashed it that night. The delivery, the flow, the genius of his hooks and the lyrical content about good times, enjoying yourself and unity,” Andy says. “One day Caroline from Unique Artists called my mum and dad’s house asking to speak to Andy C. She offered me a gig doing a PA with Stevie and we toured around the UK with it. He was a quiet guy but, blimey, give him a mic and the transformation was unbelievable. He was born to perform. Nobody else was doing it the way he was back then, Stevie had hooks for days. Almost overnight, people were coming down to Wax Club to check him out. He became a phenomenon and he’s influenced so many people since then.”
“He was my MC and he was way ahead of his time… way ahead of his time,” Nicky Blackmarket explains. Nicky and Stevie were the ultimate DJ/MC combination. Nicky’s ability to tear up dancefloors was unparalleled, seamless blends, dynamic mixes, a bit of scratching here and there - and his selection was second to none. Together they were an unstoppable force, the best of friends and a duo that would rinse out every rave they appeared at.
“His use of call and response, his connection to the crowd. He was very versatile, he could sing, rap, chat.. Whatever, he could do the whole thing,” Nicky adds. “The show we had on Kool together, on Super Sundays, we’d be rinsed from Saturday night and still excited to go up there. Someone would come to the shop the next morning and ask me if we’ve got a certain tune and they’d be describing it with Stevie chatting the lyrics!”
“One of the most memorable dances I did with him was a rave called Liquid Adrenalin, in Canada. It was run by Hatiras, who is now a massive house artist,” Nicky explains. “It was like it used to be back here, all the parties in warehouses. I shit you not it was fucking mental. All I remember is, after the set, Stevie taking his top off and going, ‘Watch this’ and ringing it out like it had just been pulled out of a washing machine. The energy was out of this world.”
Stevie’s energy lives on, the positivity, the considerate manner, the catchy hooks, the rapid-fire lyrical delivery and his rapport with the crowd, untouchable and unique. The blueprint for many of today’s MCs and a legacy that will live on forever. Salute Stevie Hyper D, “Junglist are you reeeaaaddyyy? Bo! Oh lord, have mercy!”
A film on Stevie’s life and legacy ‘The Hidden Influence’ is due for release in Spring 2020.
Drum’n’bass wouldn’t be where it is without the pioneers who carved out their own paths, supported by the rest of the community to cultivate unique sounds, influential labels and club nights that helped establish the genre as one of the most versatile and diverse in the world. The list of names is endless, but over the next couple of months we’re going to highlight a few of the heroes who really excelled and contributed something really special to the scene.
Kicking us off is a true scientist of sound, an innovator who has been deep in the game since his teens… the man whose beats and bass will melt your brain, the one and only Dillinja. Prolific, dynamic, iconic, Dillinja is one of the most respected drum’n’bass jungle artists in the entire scene with a mind-blowing back catalogue that dates back to 1993. In fact, he’s held in such high esteem that the mighty Grooverider once said, ‘Without Dillinja there would be no Grooverider’. That says it all really, a living legend whose obsession with optimum sound has produced a ridiculous array of timeless releases, music that set the benchmark for many others to follow. Using various aliases (Capone, Cybotron, Trinity and more…) he has put out hundreds of tracks, blessing the scene with his distinct ear for frequency and sonic potency from another dimension.
“What can you say about Dillinja? He changed the game in so many ways,” says Fabio. “Sometimes people had to play Dillinja sets because so many tunes sounded weedy next to a Dillinja tune. His tunes battered the dancefloor, they were so sonic and so apocalyptic in sound. So heavy but so funky at the same time, to get those elements balanced - that funk yet so raw at the same time, unquestionably one of the greatest.”
The conception of his Valve sound system in the early 2000s (it debuted at fabric in 2001) marked a key milestone in his musical career, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Ever since he built his own mini-system when he was 14, Karl had been determined to replicate those hefty systems that inspired him as a youngster, in particular Jah Shaka. Valve was touted as one of the loudest in the world, with many of the clubs who booked it handing out free earplugs to punters and posting health warnings on their walls. Anyone who experienced it will tell you, it was an incredibly weighty, yet crystal clear behemoth of a sound system.
18 years since the Valve sound system was unveiled to the public and 26 years since his first release, Dillinja continues to spin all over Europe and the rest of the world, still driven to deliver his signature sound to the dancefloor and still locking himself away in the studio. The Dillinja back catalogue is immense, untouchable in fact, and here’s just a fraction of the classics that demonstrate his genius…
When it comes to innovation and high levels of genius, it’s not just creating timeless tunes that makes someone a great candidate for this series. We’re also celebrating the grafters, the label heads and visionaries who see the genius in others and bring them through.
One such person is the mighty DJ SS, AKA Leroy Small, Leicester kingpin and the man who launched the careers of several contemporary heroes as well as running huge parties all over the world, breaking drum’n’bass jungle in new territories, launching a pioneering label and producing some of the scene’s all-time classics.
From his early days as a hip hop lover to his very first rave experiences, where he saw rival hooligans raving side by side, hugging each other and dancing in unity to the early sounds of UK acid house, SS has been deeply involved with music for quite some time now.
As a producer his back catalogue features classics such as ‘The Lighter’, ‘Black’ and all the Colours series on Formation, ‘We’re Rolling’, ‘Rollidge’, ‘Roller’s Convention’, his remix of ‘Limb By Limb’ Cutty Ranks, the list goes on and on (and on). Tunes that defined an era, tunes that remain timeless, still mashing up the dance when they’re played now - full of that raw, unbridled energy and funk that made this music so exhilarating in the first place.
Alongside his partner in crime Eidris Hassam, SS set up Formation Records in 1989. A seminal label that put out releases by some of the best-known drum’n’bass jungle artists, as well as supporting and nurturing new talent - many of whom went on to make a huge impact on the scene: Matrix, John B, Generation Dub, Twisted Individual, Greenlaw, Nero and many more among them.
“He’s someone that brought in a lot of people,” Nicky Blackmarket tells us. “Just like me, he had his shop, called 5HQ. Through our shops we met a lot of people and helped a lot of them to do their thing. We pushed them in the right direction and helped them to get to where they wanted to go. That’s what it was all about… and what it’s still all about now.”
“Formation Records was so strong, and some of the artists that came from there are big artists in their own right now,” says V Recordings don Bryan Gee. “As a producer he was prolific and had a massive influence, too. He did a lot of stuff under aliases that maybe people don’t even know about to this day! He made some killer tunes as well. Killer killer tunes!”
Formation also had a host of sub-labels and divisions including New Identity, 5HQ Records, Easymen, F Project and more, releasing hundreds of tunes and proliferating the clubs with an unstoppable flow of dance floor-focused cuts ranging from jump up to deeper, more melodic jungle and futuristic drum’n’bass.
Check out our DJ SS playlist below… Nonstop vibes!
An incredibly hard working artist, label manager, DJ, A&R and promoter, SS was at the centre of much of what was happening outside London during the height of mid-nineties jungle and beyond. From his home base in Leicester he become a go-to for up-and-comers from outside the capital wanting to get their big break. SS was a trusted, and highly respected, source of new music and, with his co-sign, a lot of new artists were able to break through.
“SS was so responsible for a lot of things in the early days. Anything past Luton, right up to the north up to Scotland was SS’ territory,” says Bryan Gee. “He had a big influence on everything in that region, with the label, his nights and his DJing. So I’ve got nuff love for SS, he’s probably one of the hardest working guys in drum’n’bass and always has been.”
As if the labels, his own creative output, DJ gigs and discovering new talent wasn’t enough, SS also launched one of the world’s biggest drum’n’bass party brands: World of Drum & Bass. The party dominated Miami Winter Music Conference for a number of years and, under SS’ visionary guidance went on to conquer Russia and parts of the world where many of its protagonists could never have imagined the music would take hold.
“SS opened the doors in places like Russia. He pretty much broke drum’n’bass over there,” Bryan explains. “He was the first person to bring me to Russia. He brought me to a lot of places I’d never even heard of, or expected to play, before. Israel, Ukraine… he went far beyond the regular places and it was just him on his own making it happen like that, so I have to take my hat off to him.”
Big up Leroy, a true jungle genius who is still proudly flying the flag. Respect!