Friday, 20 September 2013

D.R.S. featuring Kenny Ken - Everyman

D.R.S. featuring Kenny Ken - Everyman (Rugged Vinyl, 1994)

"Junglists are you ready?"

Today would have been Stephen Austin AKA Stevie Hyper D's 46th birthday. Tragically, the MC collapsed and died aged just thirty during the early hours of Sunday 5th July 1998 following Innovation at the Camden Palace. Doctors determined his death was due to a fatal bloodclot caused by deep vein thrombosis, probably brought on by a long international tour to Japan, Australia and Canada that he had recently completed. The whole scene was in shock and the tributes poured in. Stevie was a pioneering MC who had developed the double time flow that is now standard among drum and bass MCs, but was also known for his sung hooks: "I'm a Junglist Soldier, Fighting to keep the Jungle alive". His enthusiasm was infectious and he knew how to get the crowd going - there were always a few more rewinds when Stevie was on stage. IC3 recently told DJ Mag:

"Stevie Hyper D had everything - the lyrics, the flows, the hooks. He would turn jungle and drum and bass tracks into full-on tunes."

His released output during his lifetime was sporadic and mostly towards the beginning of his career with tracks such as 'Tekk Beats' with Nu-Tekk and 'Teknoragga' with Apollo 440, both of which came out in 1991. As demand for his MCing grew he began to concentrate on performing at raves and when Jungle appeared his style was the perfect fit - he became a resident MC at nights such as Telepathy, Jungle Mania and Thunder and Joy. He still harboured the desire to be a fully fledged recording artist though and what made his death particularly tragic was that he had only just finished recording vocals for his debut album with Dfrnt Lvls. The LP, The Next Level, was released in 1999 and was followed by The Legend in 2004. New album Generation Hyper is set to be released soon.

One of the best known jungle tunes to feature Stevie is 'Everyman'. In The Life and Times of Stevie Hyper D documentary from last year Kenny Ken said: "The first time I met Stevie he came on the stage and just lit up the place. From there I just wanted him on my set as often as possible... He was the best lyricist (and) he just had a way of flowing." So when Kenny put together 'Everyman' with D.R.S. (the duo of Colin "X 10 CIV" Grainge and Errol Gordon) he got Stevie on the track. It fuses the 'Real Rock' riddim by Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd & Sound Dimension with the "Everyman do his ting a little way different" vocal from Errol Dunkely's 'A Little Way' (resung by Lee Royal Levi), while Stevie's chatting adds an extra level of energy: "All a me want, All a me like, All a me need, It a the sess, That are the herb that give me consciousness". The track uses the Hot Pants and Amen breaks and later introduces some nice pitchbent synths. A classic sing-along tune which has been remixed a number of times with the D.O.P.E. Dub and A.W.O.L. VIP being particularly noteworthy.

You can hear Kenny Ken dropping that VIP on the A.W.O.L. Live album. The Uncle Dugs #RCFF special on Stevie Hyper D from October last year is available in full on Soundcloud. The show includes the excellent The Life and Times of Stevie Hyper D documentary by Matthew Gale which you can also check out on Mixcloud. It's essential listening so get on it...

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