I must admit that hip hop and drum and bass really is not my cup of tea, maybe it`s a generational thing but there are one or two artists that I’ll make an exception for and one is East London formed Asian Dub Foundation, They were and still are an electronica band that combines musical styles such as rapcore, dub, dancehall and ragga. The group also embraces traditional rock instruments such as electric bass and guitar, which acknowledges a punk rock influence. Their music is known for its dub-inspired basslines, guitar parts inspired by the traditional Indian instrument the sitar and fast rapping.
It`s hard to believe that it`s twenty years since their album Rafi’s Revenge was released to critical acclaim and to celebrate this milestone, there`s an anniversary reissue, featuring the original twelve songs, plus a second cd titled ‘Under The Influence which record producer Adrian Sherwood has selected a number of rare, unheard and mastered tracks.
The album opens with `Naxalite` an ode to the militant Naxalite movement in India showcased over a hypnotically danceable rhythm, which doesn`t take anything away from the message that the band are trying to share. `Buzzin“ is a bit more abstract to start with but blends into a more interesting groove as it progresses, still retaining Asian inflections with Deeder Zaman`s rapped vocals atop. A wonderful bassline is the backdrop for `Black White` an anti- racist anthem. Protest songs were what ADF seemed to specialise in and `Assassin` is indeed a political protest song against imperial oppression. `Hypocrite` and `Charge` are similar protest songs against the way society is stacked with the former played against a laid-back slackened background, while the latter is shared over a more intense drum and bass sound.
`Free Satpal Ram` is about a young man who was convicted and imprisoned for defending himself in a racist attack, the song offered over a mix match of musical styles. `Dub Mentality` is really what is says on the tin, a dub mix with lyrics that set out to explain what this music and the positive influence it has on its followers. Trying to right the perception that it`s all an excuse to take recreational highs. Again `Culture Move` is another ode to raising awareness about the constructive nature of this genre of music. `Operation Eagle Lie` is a further tale against oppression of minorities in this country by the Forces Of Law. The penultimate song `Change` is an optimistic composition for transformation of the system shared against quite a hypnotic tune. `Tribute To John Stephens` closes the album and it`s a mesmerising blend of drum and bass and dub with words shared at intervals throughout the piece.
The additional disc includes completely remixed and some extended versions of `Culture Move`, `Naxalite`, Dub Mentality`, `Buzzin“, `Hypocrite` and `Free Satpal Ram` with a live cut of `Change`
Additional tracks come in the form of protest song `Real Areas For Investigation`, a fascinating `Modern Apprentice` and a captivating instrumental `Digital Underclass` An interesting and thoughtful choice of tracks to compliment this re-release.
Relistening to this album after numerous years, I can appreciate why on its release the NME hailed Asian Dub Foundation as “the most important band in Britain” as did the Sunday Times calling them “the most exciting band in Britain right now, whatever the context” The band understandably had their high profile champions with artists from Primal Scream to Radiohead, Sinead O’Connor to Chuck D all advocating their talent. ADF stand up today with bands such as Chumbawamba and Credit To the Nation, who also fought for political equality and against oppression and injustice.
This band and album are as relevant today as they were over twenty years ago.
Rating 9 /10