Shy FX: Raggamuffin SoundTape review – drum’n’bass pioneer’s wide-ranging return bangs every drum

Twenty-five years after Andre Williams, AKA Shy FX, released the widely sampled pioneering jungle track Original Nuttah, he feels that the long-awaited Raggamuffin SoundTape represents him as an artist. It certainly paints a picture of a man of many moods and friends, careering from guests known and unknown through a range of styles, from jungle to ragga to dancehall to R&B to soul. Opener Call Me features Maverick Sabre singing on a track that brings beautifully troubled soul in the vein of Marvin Gaye to drum’n’bass. The horns-blasting Carnival Culture lives up to its title, while the dancehall-flavoured Raggamuffin has a slightly darker feel (“show disrespect then you die”).

Shy FX: Raggamuffin SoundTape album artwork

The general mood is resistant to the gangsta lifestyle, though. Bye Bye Bye features Jamaican reggae star Chronixx on a trademark skank in which he declares, “She thinks she’s Bonnie and I’m Clyde / But I don’t want any bad vibes, so bye bye bye.” The insanely catchy Balaclava (“Can’t see me face! Balaclava”) could be a ragga Sleaford Mods. The sound of a heavily Auto-Tuned Cara Delevingne on a track titled Rudeboy Lovesong may raise an eyebrow, but it’s a sweetly down-tempo, percussion-layered song built on Sweetie Irie’s mournful lament, “No one knows what we bin through”. Overall, it’s perhaps more mixtape than capital-A album, but the Lily Allen/Stamina MC collaboration Roll the Dice is a drum’n’bass banger, and there’s never a dull moment.

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