11. SL2 – On A Ragga Tip
Last week, I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not to play ‘On A Ragga Tip’ during my set at a certain excellent clubnight this Saturday. A reasonable request: of all the tracks on Rave’92, this and ‘Ebeneezer Goode’ are probably the ones I’ve heard most at the sort of nightclubs I go to. The combination of chart success, the nonsensical (but still karaoke-friendly) lyrics and free reign to merrily flail away on the dancefloor knocking over everyone’s pint has ensured both tracks have never really departed from the collective consciousness, let alone sunk into obscurity.
Unlike the majority of Rave ’92 I have no firm memory of my initial reaction upon hearing ‘On A Ragga Tip’, other than perhaps mild relief that Rage’s ‘Run To You’ had finished! I wouldn’t embrace reggae (i.e. Shaggy) until much later that year, and the nonsensical but inoffensive yabbering failed to distinguish this track as worthy of special attention or avoidance. Soon enough I was happily bobbing up and down shouting ‘WARRRD! WARRRD!’, but it was only when I started DJing that I realised that even people who didn’t listen to rave would dance like mentals to this song.
A while back I received an mp3 of Jah Screechie’s ‘Walk And Skank’ – the extended toasting-fest that SL2 heavily sampled. I found myself waiting for the cheerful plinking piano even though I knew it wasn’t coming, and started to appreciate exactly how good SL2’s bosh-up was. They picked the best bits of a lazy reggae rant and turned them into a bouncing electronic pop song (MUCH harder than it looks*). The momentum is infectious, and the different sounds chop and change enough that you’d need a severe case of ADHD to get bored.
However all this praise doesn’t necessarily earn ‘On A Ragga Tip’ a place on my playlist this weekend. There are so many other cracking rave tunes I’d love to see people dance to that deserve an outing. But then again, sometimes you need a sprinkle of familiarity to win the trust of the dancefloor (in readiness for the seven-minute-long Dr Gore 2000 track you have lined up next). In any case, a good DJ should always keep something solid in reserve in case everyone buggers off to the bar, and this is as classic as rave gets.
*About four years ago I had the ambitious notion of inventing a new genre, combining the rave music I loved with the ska-punk played by the band I was in at the time. Despite being incredibly familiar with ‘On A Ragga Tip’ and its relatives, I still didn’t twig that this ‘skrave’ obviously already existed, and felt monumentally stupid when someone pointed this out. Luckily I had already thought up another seven projects by then and quietly dropped the whole business.