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Subject 13 – Hip Hop Gangster

Here’s an excellent recent nab of mine which I’d never heard prior to buying. This EP might have eluded me until now since it’s from 1996 rather than 95. Even though 96/97 happens to be around when I started buying dnb/jungle, I’ve often steered clear of tracks from 96 when digging for oldskool since that’s also around when much of the most chopped and crazy breakwork (eg my favorite part) faded away in favor of more repetitive, stripped down and steppy beats. However, that’s obviously a gross oversimplification, and there was still plenty of interesting breakwork being released into 96 – this tune being a good example.

Subject 13 – Hip Hop Gangster

To me, this track straddles the 95-97 timeline perfectly – more bludgeoning and hard hitting than a lot of stuff around 95 (with a prominent hip hop sample that screams 96), but with a choppy, layered amen. The closest thing I could compare it to might be some of the T.I.C. material of the time, though this has its own sound. Like most 96 stuff (when compared to 94-95 anyway), this EP is also super cheap and easy to find: I think my copy was about $1.00 or thereabouts. It’s is a bit worn out, and I’m definitely planning to upgrade my copy soon, but this seemed like a tune people would be interested in so I’ve gone ahead and ripped it as-is. I’ve also left in the crackles (more noticable starting around the breakdown two and a half minutes in) to motivate some of you to track down a copy like I did 🙂 As another incentive, the track following this on the EP (“Just For You”) is similarly wicked: an unassuming laid back jungle tune which somewhat unexpectedly breaks out into heavy amens partway through.

As for the producer himself, Subject 13 is high up on the short list of choice underrated producers who have been there, done that since day one. Starting with early breakbeat EPs on Vinyl Solution around 90/91 before hardcore was even really fully formed, leading through some wicked early hardcore EPs on ULR like Mash It Up DJ and the darkside classic “Armageddon Countdown” EP, through to great later stuff which tended more towards the laid back, tasteful side of things (with some notable exceptions, like my personal fav back in 98, “Resevoir Dogs”). Aside from producing, Subject 13 also ran a number of quality labels: Subject 13 Records, 13 Music, and Vibez Recordings being the main three. Checking their back catalogs now, I’d forgotten how much quality tunage came out on his labels back then. A lot of that output was actually during the supposedly “dark years” of DNB, when there was still plenty of choice tunage around but it was more underground and largely ignored by some of the biggest DNB DJs in favor of more populist oompa loompa jump-up stuff. Quality artists like Paradox/Alaska, Blu Mar Ten, ASC, Fanu, Macc, Big Bud, and Physix (of Physix n Tricks) all released on his labels back then.

Checking what he’s up to now, it looks like he’s renamed himself Mr. LeftEye and is doing more varied stuff across a variety of genres… definitely check his soundcloud page below and follow him on twitter.

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