Jon Carter, one of the ’90s dance scene’s most-important-but-oft-overlooked DJ/producers, has rebooted his much-missed Monkey Mafia project, with a cavalcade of new edits and original productions set to be unleashed.
Of all the cats to have sprung from the hedonistic loins of London’s mid-‘90s legendary club/party/state of mind Heavenly Social, Jon Carter remains the most individual and talented. As one of the club’s residents, alongside fellow hell-raisers The Chemical Brothers and Richard Fearless (Death In Vegas), Jon quickly acquired a rep for his devastatingly roughneck sets that weren’t afraid to mix everything from classic hardcore to tough hip-hop to strobe-lit house and techno, and scoffed in the face of musical purists, who had long since fucked off and cleared the floor for the heads who were there to party proper.
While the Social became latterly known as the birthplace of big beat, the club’s music policy was far more inclusive and eclectic than that narrow appellation, and it was Jon’s dancehall and reggae-inflected style (he learnt sound engineering in his youth through working at reggae recording studios and at d&b label No U Turn), that was perhaps its greatest asset.
But it’s as a producer that Carter made his biggest impact upon the dance scene. Working under the Monkey Mafia alias, he cut several big beat classics that still stand the test of time today. ‘Blow The Whole Joint Up’ towers tall as an incendiary blast of Sheffield bleeps, rolling tough break-beats and heaving dub bass, while ‘Work Mi Body’ is pure warehouse ragga techno business.
1998’s ‘Shoot The Boss’ debut album was hailed as a modern urban classic to file alongside Massive Attack upon its release, but failed to generate quite the same levels of love as the Bristolian stalwarts and Carter abandoned the project.
Indeed, despite having success latterly under his house music moniker Junior Cartier, with tracks like ‘Women Beat Their Men’, there was always the sense that Monkey Mafia was unfinished (monkey) business. And now he’s back, with a glance at Carter’s Soundcloud page revealing a selection of tasty new tracks that push his dancehall influences into new terrain.
“The timing seems right,” Carter commented. “I've been making tracks for sets lately — just things I'd like to hear. I've always let my love of dancehall reggae and dub and hip-hop influence my music, and so the tunes were very similar in flavour to Monkey Mafia.”
With ragga and Caribbean soca elements prominent in dance music again due to the advent of UK funky and dubstep, Monkey Mafia feels more relevant than ever, and it seems that the project — including its live band incarnation — is back for good this time.
“Monkey Mafia were always a great festival band,” says Carter. “When we first formed it was always with a view to playing live. It's so satisfying bonding with an audience, from a huge Glastonbury crowd to the basement of the Manumission Hotel, every gig was an occasion, so I can't wait to get out there again.”
Check out the music here soundcloud.com/monkey-mafia or download a classic live set from '98 and plethroa of re-edits below:
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