artworks-000075815600-5g1qqc-t200x200In the late 1940s and 1950s the first wave of Afro-Caribbean immigrants, many of them ex-servicemen who fought, bled, and watched their friends die during WW2 for the UK, landed with their families in London. During that first winter bricks were thrown into their windows (often in bags containing shit), their homes were attacked, and there were regular assaults on them. When the situation got really bad, they tore up bed sheets to use as bandages, used kitchen knives and broken furniture as weapons, to defend their homes and loves ones. But when these loyal colonial subjects fought back they became the primary criminals in the eyes of the police: regularly mistreated, unjustly punished, and even framed for crimes they did not commit. This is the kind of injustice and abuse faced by black people in England ever since, all the way to today’s discrimination and structural economic inequality.

These Jamaicans and Trinidadians played the music of their homeland at house parties and later in community centers which became night clubs. Events would be continually interrupted by the police, young party goers continually harassed and arrested, and the community centers would often get permanently shut down. Under these conditions, Afro-Caribbean sounds and musical sensibilities not only survived in the UK, but thrived and formed the foundation of much modern British music.

Afro-Caribbean rhythm traditions took root and spread all over England, with crucial, lasting influence: from Reggae-Rock such as the Clash and Bauhaus, to the dub infused urban electronic mutations of Garage, Dubstep, UK Funky, and of course, Jungle and Drum’n’Bass.

And these Afro-Caribbean roots are once again coming to the foreground, after almost 20 years of Drum’n’Bass history, in which much of the music was sadly ruined by fist pumping broification, the boring and repetitive testosterone of 16 year olds on crank. But now, tracks with the skeletal rhythm of 90s hard Ragga Dancehall, as well as all kinds of Africanized percussive elements, typify the NEW “new-school”, where Liquid and Neurofunk combines with the best bits of Metalheads, Jump Up, and many past styles.

Let us remember the process of struggle and legacy of conflict from which it comes, as we revel in the latest permutation of this MUTANT culture.