Download Protoculture (right click and select “Save Link As…” or “Save Target As…”), or listen here:
01. Sons Of A Loop Da Loop Era – Far Out
02. The House Crew – Keep The Fire Burning
03. 2 Bad Mice – Hold It Down
04. 4 Hero – Cooking Up Yah Brain
05. DMS – Vengeance
06. Run Tings – Back Again
07. Blame – Music Takes You (2 Bad Mice Remix)
08. The Core – High In The Jungle
09. Sons Of A Loop Da Loop Era – Peace & Loveism
10. The Prodigy – Wind It Up
11. Yolk – Bish Bosh
12. Ruff Rider – Dance Mutha
13. The Prodigy – Out Of Space
14. Urban Shakedown – Bass Speaker
15. Sons Of A Loop Da Loop Era – Breaks The Unbreakable
16. NRG – Feel The Fury (Piano Mix)
17. Acen – Trip II The Moon (Pts. 1 & 2)
18. Criminal Minds – The Criminal
19. The House Crew – Euphoria (Nino’s Dream)
20. 4 Hero – Journey From The Light
21. Yolk – Music 4 Da People
22. The Prodigy – Ruff In The Jungle Bizness
23. DJ Krome & Mr. Time – The Slammer
24. Phuture Assassins – Roots ‘N Future
25. Kaotic Chemistry – Illegal Subs
26. DJ Rap & Aston – Vertigo
27. Mixrace – Mixrace Outa Hand
28. DJ Force & Evolution – Ruffer
29. Twin Bass – Atmosfear (Wishdokta Remix)
30. Boogie Times Tribe – Dark Stranger
31. Criminal Minds – Joyrider
32. Austin – Unity In Dub (Stop-Go Mix)
33. Wishdokta – Whine You Bottom (Waistline Mix)
34. Mixrace – Too Bad For Ya (Is 180 Too Fast For Ya?)
35. The Prodigy – Bonus Beat
I made this mix back in 2000. I had been collecting compilation CD’s of old skool rave stuff since 1992, but I just got tired of not having the good songs all in one place. And since I only had these songs on CD when I made this mix and I didn’t own any CDJ‘s (because they were way too expensive back then), my mixing options were extremely limited. Basically, there was no mixing, no creativity whatsoever, but at least I finally had all of this music in one big mix.
The genre of music represented in this mix, Breakbeat Hardcore, was actually the precursor to Drum & Bass… hence the title “proto”+”culture”. What made this early stuff so special was the way in which all of the musical genres that I loved were mashed up together. There were elements of House, Acid, Techno, Electro, Rap, Miami Bass, Funk, Soul, Reggae, Rock, Classical, etc., all sped up to create this new genre of music. We’re talking House keys, Techno synths, Electro synths, Rap vocals and DJ’s cuttin’ & scratchin’, Miami Bass basslines, Funk breakbeats, Soul vocals, Reggae vocals, Classical strings, etc.
My first exposure to Breakbeat Hardcore, or Old Skool Rave, or whatever you want to call it, was back in 1991. Between my junior and senior years of high school, I was fortunate enough to go on a “student ambassador” tour of northern Europe. My dad was still working at the shop and my mom was still working at the elementary school where I grew up, so they were able to send me that summer!
I was with a group of approximately 20 students from Michigan and we toured England, Denmark (I got to see Legoland!), Sweden, Finland, and Russia. It wasn’t all planes, trains, and automobiles and hotels… I was actually able to experience a couple of homestays. The first one was in Bewdley, England:
We toured London for a couple of days when we first arrived in the UK, but we eventually got on a bus for the 3 hour trip northwest up to Bewdley:
The guy that I stayed with in Bewdley was Dave de Santis, who was a very popular high school teacher in town. He took me to the pub a couple of times where a lot of the teenagers hung out, drank, etc. He introduced me to some of his former students at the pub (and a couple of his current ones, too), and I remember them all treating Dave like he was one of them:
One of the places that we visited during the homestay in Bewdley was Stratford-upon-Avon, which is famous for being the birthplace home of Shakespeare (which I got to tour and do a walk-through). We all packed into a school bus with a bunch of other Bewdley high schoolers and made the 30 minute trip to Statford-upon-Avon.
Back then, I couldn’t live without my walkman and I always had my headphones on. There were two cassette tapes that I distinctly remember listening to on that trip: KMD’s “Mr. Hood” and John Coltrane’s “His Greatest Years“. (I actually bought 3rd Bass’ “Derelicts Of Dialect” LP on double-vinyl at a record store in Stratford-upon-Avon, and I picked up the Leaders Of The New School “A Future Without A Past” cassette in a bus station in Stockholm, but I digress…)
One of the older Bewdley kids on the bus wanted to know what I was listening to, so we started talking about music, the types of stuff that we liked listening to, what the kids in the UK and USA were into at that time, etc. After chatting for a little bit, he asked for my walkman, pulled a cassette out of his bag, cued it up, gave the headphones over to me, and pressed play. And this was what I heard:
I was totally blown away. It hit me really hard! Let me put this into perspective a little bit… Prior to hearing this, all that I ever listened to were House songs like this and this, Acid House songs like this and this, and a ton of Hip House songs like this and all of the stuff from these dudes.
I had never heard anything like that before in my life!! The fast BPM tempo, the energy, the sped up looped breakbeats, the sped up vocal samples, the hype synth/keyboard sounds, etc. It all just sounded soooo weird and completely foreign to my ears. Totally different from what I had been listening up to that point.
The kid explained to me that the tape was a dub of a dub of a dub, and that he didn’t know any of the artist names, song titles, etc., but he told me that this was what the “party kids” in England were into. I don’t remember him ever using the word “rave” to describe the parties or the music. In fact, he called this stuff “bleep” music, which at the time I assumed was derived from the fact that a lot of these songs had computer/keyboard bleeps and blips running through them.
It took me more than 10 years, a lot of luck, and the internet(!) to finally figure out who made the one song that I could actually remember hearing on that bus. The reason why I remembered that particular song was because I had immediately recognized the sped up LL Cool J “we gonna rock/we gonna rock” part that was looped throughout the track. That vocal sample was the only puzzle piece that I had to go on all those years.
I was totally blown away when I finally found out that The Prodigy made the song. Back in 1991, I didn’t know anything about The Prodigy, but I became a huge fan of theirs between 1992-1994. Prior to hunting down “We Gonna Rock”, I had absolutely no idea that they had released anything prior to their classic first album “Experience“.
After my student ambassador tour was over and I was back in Michigan, I began my mission of trying to find something… anything… that sounded similar to what I remembered hearing that day on the bus. It turned out to be a mission impossible. For the next two years, I ended up wasting a lot of money on mediocre “rave” compilation CD’s, but I did stumble upon a couple of great songs! The first one that I remember being really good was from Danny Breaks, who at that time recorded under the name Sonz Of A Loop Da Loop Era:
Another group that I really liked was Altern-8. They also had a huge impact in both the rave scene and the UK dance charts! The thing that I liked about them was that they had a very unique and style-defining “look” (with the radiation-suit type of pullovers and the bright yellow face masks with the big black “A” in the middle). And because they always wore the suits and masks, you didn’t know what they looked like… which created a sort of mystery about them (i.e., the “faceless/nameless artist”). These dudes didn’t look like all of the other freak-show ravers and performers of the time. They had a hardcore and “real” look to them, and I felt that they had the perfect image for this type of music.
Did you notice how Altern-8 disses The Prodigy in their video for “Brutal-8-E”? It was in response to The Prodigy’s video for “Out Of Space”:
Speaking of The Prodigy, here are a bunch of their videos from the 1992-1993 era:
Here’s a documentary from 1991 that talks about the rave scene. Mind you, all of this was happening in the UK… the Acid House “second summer of love” of 1988-1989 led right into the rave scenes of 1990-1994. The main guy in the documentary is Liam from The Prodigy, who made “We Gonna Rock” and a bunch of other songs that I loved back then. Altern-8 is also in this clip, along with a salty ass Kevin Saunderson at the 1:56 mark:
These next three songs are often cited as being “the first” Drum & Bass songs ever made… Meat Beat Manifesto’s “Radio Babylon”, Lost’s “The Gonzo”, and Lennie De Ice’s “We Are i.e.”, all from 1990. What’s interesting to note is that all of these early Drum & Bass songs were around 120BPM-130BPM, which is around the same tempo as a lot of House, Grime, and Dubstep music of today. Nowadays, Drum & Bass is typically around 175BPM!! That’s a really huge jump in tempo if you think about it, but you have to try and put it into perspective. The early Drum & Bass stuff just “felt” a lot faster than everything else because of the sped up breakbeats, chipmunk vocal samples, sped up scratches, frantic keyboard sounds, etc.
The last leg of my student ambassador tour was in the former Soviet Union. I got to tour Saint Petersburg (Leningrad) and Moscow, and I got to see a lot of the Russian countryside while taking the trains from city to city.
Now, back then, when I thought of Russia, I thought of Red Dawn and Rocky IV and the Red Scare and being thrown in a Russian gulag for simply making eye contact with a soldier or police officer. But it was nothing like that. It wasn’t Stalinist Russia anymore. Signs of capitalism and the private sector were everywhere. We even stood in a long line to eat at the McDonald’s in Moscow that had just opened the year before. Now, our line was no where near as long as it was at the grand opening, but I think you get the idea:
Speaking of long lines… the line to visit Lenin’s Tomb was just as long, if not longer, than the one we stood in to eat at McDonald’s. I know, hard to believe, right? Anyway, the only time that I ever felt uneasy and nervous in Russia was when we walked through Lenin’s Tomb.
We were given a lot of rules and instructions prior to standing in the long queue. “Stay in line, do not step out of line or make any sudden moves”. “Keep your hands out of your pockets and in clear view of the soldiers/guards at all times”. “Do not talk, keep quite at all times”. “Do not take any pictures or video”. “Do not wear a hat or anything that covers your head”. “Keep moving, do not stop walking or crouch down to tie your shoes”. And what added to the pressure was that it was very dark and cold in the corridors and halls of the tomb, and the only place where there was any real light was in the small room where Lenin’s body laid behind super thick glass (probably bulletproof). There were soldiers everywhere, at every corner, with big rifles. It was mad serious!!
But check this out… remember how this was during the summer of 1991, and Moscow was the last stop of our tour? Well, we fly out of Moscow and head back to the USA. When we get back home to Michigan, the following weekend… I mean the VERY NEXT weekend… I’m talking like 5 days later… THIS happens:
One of the most important world events in my lifetime occurs, and I damn near get caught up in the middle of it! I’m watching the news on TV and I’m like, “Holy crap, I was just THERE! I was right at St. Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square!!” If our schedule was just one week later, I would’ve been in Moscow while all of this was going on! Who knows what would’ve happened to me!?!!?! I mean, the media made it seem like the coup was bloodless, with images like this:
…but years later on I find out that there was also some of this going on in the streets:
This is how the war photographer who took those photos remembers that time: “Molotov cocktails tossed into tanks. Bullets sprayed into the unarmed crowd. This man was shot a few feet away from me, while I cowered on the ground with my head in a puddle. I sometimes still see him in my dreams.”