RAGGACORE – trying to define it...

 

In the following article I´ll try to get closer to the term of "Raggacore". There is much discussion about it so I´re trying to define what Ragga+ Core is all about.

So I´m tying to constrict the broad field a bit and give a definition what this is all about. I try to give an overview over its origins, come to a definiton, talk about some ot the producers behind and then ending in some perspective for the future. I didn´t write year dates yet, because the music is to young yet but i´ll make up for that later- because i have the approach to write down the history of this music genre yet.
So this text is out there to describe what kind of music was hot (at least for the author) when it was written - in summer 2004. So the criterias which artists are listed are mainly subjective. This text doesn´t have the approach to give strict definitions of "what Raggacore is and what not" but to give a broad overview for interested people.
Also, of course, this article reflects the contemporary developments in this music. So this text is meant to be a knowledge base for this music, we want to set up more texts (discograpgy, artist interviews...) in the future. If you´re interested in contribution- feel free to get in touch!

Thanks to all people who discussed with me about that and helped to shapen the following text!

 

The evolution of hard Ragga-releated music

Is distorted Jungle with Raggasamples already Raggacore? For example D-Jungle like stuff on Riot Beats? Or Gabber with Ragga like WEDLOCK´s "Ganjaman" (Ruffneck Records) from 1994). Propably part of the origins but not an genre by its own- in fact these examples were Gabber or Jungle with Ragga but not something completely new yet.

How did everything start? Hard to define it specifically but the first time Raggacore became well known was with VENETIAN SNARES – „snares man“ 7“ (History of the future) and KNIFEHANDCHOP – „bounty killer killer“ 7“ (irritant/dyhane) in 2001 and BLOODCLAAT GANGSTA YOUTH - "kill or be killed" 7" (full watts). This was the first when it wasn´t Ragga Jungle any more but a step beyond- Breakcore combined with Raggavocals.

Since 2001 there are many records out combining Breakcore with Ragga. Like in Breakcore these records can´t be defined as one, specific style but as many ones. There is not one certain set of elements used to define a style but every artist inventing his or her individual style. So Raggacore is fusion or crossover of many styles getting combined in various ways. In many cases these are elements of Gabber, fast Amenbreakbeats, Ravesounds and Dancehallvocals or –elements.

Triangle of the sound: Dancehall, Ragga Jungle and Breakcore

So Reggae/ Ragga/ Dancehall is the common element sampled from. The reference to it is not clear at all: Most acts out of the Breakcore-scene didn´t have any relations to this scene. They simply sampled the music and didn´t care for the background of the music at all. So for them it didn´t matter first either sampling country&western, Heavy Metal or Dancehall- it was just a resource to get some musical material from.
But in the meantime when more and more Ragga stuff was sampled there seemed to be also more discussion about Dancehall music. This was raised by the discussion about Dancehall and Homophobia.
But people still see themselves as "Breakcore", many of them having roots in Punkrock. So the approach is not to make "Raggacore" or even "Breakcore" but to create an own, individual sound and not caring for some asthetic ideals of a scene.

In contrast to this many people in Ragga Jungle refer to Dancehall and the scene and identified themselves with Dancehall music and the releated culture out of Jamaica. Ragga Jungle seems to be a scene quite similar and connected to Dancehall putting out mainly versions with amenbreaks of Dancehall tracks.

Compared with Ragga Jungle Raggacore is harder and wilder. There are many more experimental elements in the music than just Ragga+Breakbeats. Also there is more distortion in the music and it´s not based on the same breakbeat all the time.
So for many Breakcore fans both Dancehall and Ragga Jungle seemed to be too monotonous and repeating all the time. This changed in the last time with the newschool Ragga Jungle which is quite big in North America. Acts like Twinhooker, Debaser, General Malice, DJ K, Soundmurderer do much harder music than the old Ragga Jungle from the UK in the mid-1990s.

But there are also some differences to Breakcore in most of the Raggacore records: the experimental approach is constricted in favour to dance compability. The impact of Industrial sounds and pure noise can be kicking and sexy, but it also can be extremly boring after listing to too many poorly produced records. Beat is still more danceable than noise, so in contrast to Breakcore the principles of dancefloor usually top the experimental approach often. So Raggacore seems to be more easily consumable to many people than "normal" breakcore.

It´s not definable where Raggacore starts or end. Boundaries are fluid. There are also similar combinations like Raggacore with music related to Dancehall- especially Dub but also Ska and Reggae. So "Noisedub" would be Tracks of DJ SCUD (Full Watts#3), some tracks of THE BUG or SAOULATERRE "We are da Rasta".

Raggacore-no scene?!

In fact there is no "Raggacore"-Scene. This has various reasons: At the one hand the output of releases is simply too small. At the other hand, most artists can´t be subsumed as "Raggacore" only. So many artists sample Raggarecords in some tracks, but in many other tracks not. Take VENETIAN SNARES for example. He started the hype with the "snares man" 7", but most of his tracks have nothing to do with "Raggacore". Even a artist like BONG RA put out a record with non-Ragga music ("Praying Mantis e.p."). Take all the other artists from DJ SCUD to ENDUSER- least of them fit to the term "Raggacore" only. Also if you would ask them "Are you Raggacore?" most of them would propably deny it. Most of the producers do what they want and not trying to produce Ragga based stuff only.
Same is valid for labels. Most of them also publish "normal" breakcore. Clash, Full Watts, Razor X and Shockout are the only ones specialized in Ragga-related releases only. All the others release different music, too.

Also there is no infrastructure for a scene: no networks, no fanzines for "Raggacore only" yet. For most of the communication and networking the infrastructre of the Breakcore scene is used.

So it doesn´t make any sense to talk of Raggacore as a "scene" or even a specific "genre"- it´s simply a collective term to describe hard, Ragga-related music.
So does it make sense to use the term "Raggacore" at all? I think: yes. Instead of describing it as "certain Breakcore records with Ragga-samples and/or Ragga-related sounds or rhythm structures" we simply call it Raggacore. Other people call it Speedhall, Yardcore or whatever...we call it Raggacore.

Definition: The term "Raggacore" is used in this article to describe hard, electronic, experimental music (mostly Breakcore) combined with Ragga/ Dancehall/ Reggae influences.

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