BBE Records

Born in Russia and raised in London, DJ Vadim rose to fame in the mid-90s with his smooth debut ‘Headz Ain’t Ready’ on his own ‘Jazz Fudge’ label. Straight out of the MPC era of hip-hop production, ‘Headz’ had a break-beat/ hip-hop feel which remains as the cornerstone of Vadim’s sound, but his later releases began to feature a fusion of dub, synth, and ethnic influences. His album, ‘USSR: Life From The Other Side’, established him in the American and European market, and his work as DJ for the hip-hop group ‘One Self’ continued to expose him to a wider audience.

Twenty years and many releases after his debut, Vadim returns with ‘Dubcatcher’, a solid dip into dub featuring a wide array of vocalists. This time round Vadim has again combined soulful elements of break-beat hip-hop, vintage reggae, dancehall, and jungle, resulting in a deft marriage of the digital and organic.

Heavy and well produced, the LP brings influences from sound system reggae and spices them up with a modern east London vibe. Vadim also has a great relationship with Aotearoa as indicated by releases featuring Fat Freddy’s Drop, Julian Dyne and now on this project, Rio Hemopo.

The warm sultry horns of ‘Hope’ kick off the LP. Reminiscent of Fat Freddy’s Drop, the cut features Rio Hemopo and English vocalist Sabira Jade and will surely get the attention of local ears. East London heavyweight Demolition Man steps up next with ‘If Life Was A Thing’, dropping a tidy version amongst conscious lyrics – “If life was a thing money could buy…”.

Next up the catchy bubbler ‘Consignment’ featuring Governor Tiggy is a friendly warning to drug dealing youth, and on the crucial ‘Nah Join’, soundsystem veteran YT drops in to chant down the warmongers.

Governor Tiggy brings a throwback vibe with a girls tune ‘Sweet Like A Lolly’, which is followed by ‘Originate’, a sample driven hip-hop hitter featuring jungle/drum and bass veteran Dynamite MC. Next, YT is back alongside Katrina Blackstone on the slow bashment burner ‘Give it Up’, which leads nicely into ‘Action’ with Jimmy Screech (Ghost Writerz), a warm Bristol sounding number punctuated by tight jungle riffs.

Demolition Man shows some serious lyrical skill on the pumping ‘Lyrical Soldier’, and Katrina Blackstone returns with inventive second generation DJ/lyricist Serocee on the cosy ‘Magnetic’.’Rise’ revisits the combo of Rio Hemopo and Sabira Jade for a slow disco session, and ‘Badman’ from Demolition Man brings a chunky synth, bashment vibe.

Older hip-hop heads might remember raggamuffin pioneer Jamalski who shows he is still in fine form with the four-on-the-floor anthem ‘Raggamuffin Life’, and Governor Tiggy returns for another cheeky girls tune, ‘Ring My Bell’. The bass driven ‘Pele’ features some unusual samples and sassy vocals from Karen B, and the LP is rounded of with ‘Carpenter’ featuring the very busy Gappy Ranks.

With nuff vibes and versatility, this is a great collection of entertaining, positive, and socially conscious tunes standing tall in an increasingly materialistic dancehall market. This LP doesn’t sound like foreigners making reggae at all. Vadims choice of vocalists and sound has led to a genuine east London reggae LP, with hat tips to jungle, garage, and UK sound system culture. Kudos to Vadim for this positive and progressive effort. Don’t forget to check his recent mix for NiceUp and the first video from the release, Hope.

More info:
DJ Vadim website

Winston Spliff