Monday, 19 August 2013

DJ Rap - Hardstep

DJ Rap - Hardstep (Proper Talent, 1996)

My Monday Retrospect piece at DnB Blog this week is on 'Spiritual Aura' by Engineers Without Fears AKA DJ Rap & Aston. I didn't get a copy of this one on 12" until it was repressed in 2001 on the Propa Classics reissue series. The first DJ Rap record I got my hands on at the time of its release was the appropriately titled 'Hardstep' on her own Proper Talent label.

DJ Rap, real name Charissa Saverio, first got into DJing after seeing Dem 2 spin at a party in the late eighties. Finding success with early releases such as '(We Are) The Adored' (as Ambience with producer Jeff B) and 'Divine Rhythm' she secured shows on Rave FM and Fantasy FM as well as getting increasingly prominent DJing gigs. After the release of 'Spiritual Aura' she managed to get a loan from Vinyl Distribution to set up her own label and Proper Talent was born.

Like 'Spiritual Aura', 'Hardstep' is a tune that balances the rough with the smooth, opening with synthetic strings and angelic vocals ("Just maybe...") over drums built around the Life Could break and cowbell. This section comes to an abrupt end though when a vocal repeats "Yo fuck that shit, I'm hardsteppin..." over a drum roll, bringing in a powerful bassline that's the aural equivalent of being repeatedly punched in the gut. The bass only pauses a couple of times for an elongated and stuttered "hardstep" vocal before the strings and vocals from the start return to close the track out. Superb stuff from the first lady of drum and bass.

'Hardstep' was included on the Propa Classics Volume 1 album in 2001. You can hear it among several other Rap productions in her mix for One In The Jungle, broadcast on 12th July 1996:

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