How a white label project became one of the biggest dance tunes of all time.
There are few people that have been as instrumental to the establishment of dance music in the UK as DJ Zinc. From his start in ’91 on pirate radio, the tastemaker DJ/producer has laid down the bass on pivotal releases across genres. From drum and bass to breakbeat and garage to his current work in bass house, Zinc’s legendary status has been proven time and time again. He remains a consistent and driving force in underground dance music. There are a number of timeless tunes in his catalog, among them is his pivotal 1995 white label remix of The Fugees’ “Ready or Not.”
DJ Zinc and his lot were early adopters of the jungle sound, following it from its beginnings as part of hardcore and its move into a sound all its own. In the winter of 1995, while hip-hop fans across the UK were discovering the fevered rhythms and dank and dirty basslines of Jungle, he penned this remix. When he played it for fellow D&B legend DJ Hype, the “Super Sharp Shooter” producer suggested a different bass line, which is likely why this remix has been mistakenly attributed to him over the years.
Only 500 copies of this tune hit record stores, and a short time later it evolved into rave anthem. In the summer of ’96, no jungle room was safe from the sound of that skanky bassline. And since the record was in such short supply, DJs and punters everywhere clamored for a copy.
It’s easy to see why Zinc found himself with an instant classic in his record bag. The darkness of Enya’s humming vocals from her 1987 tune “Bodecia,” that the Fugees tune samples, set the perfect tone for Lauryn Hill’s incomparable vocals over the breakdown. Zinc makes light work of adding a crispy, clean jump up beat underneath to give it that punch and power that put jungle in the same family as hip-hop. The addition of Method Man’s chopped up vocals (and the “beep” from the clearly sampled clean version of the tune) add an extra layer of swag. And then that bassline runs in and it’s clear that this record has inspired scores of producers that have followed in the 20 years since it hit the dancefloor.
That first run went fast, and when it was clear that Zinc wasn’t pressing anymore, a dodgy shop owner seized an opportunity to capitalize on the success of the record.
With scores of white labels floating around the young producer found himself on blast with the record label that owned the master recording. It must have taken some slick talk to get them to back off, but after hearing that the record was intended as a short run dub plate, they did and even considered an official release. Unfortunately that never actually surfaced, and maybe for the better. Over the years the record has been repressed in limited numbers, always as a white label/bootleg.
DJ Zinc’s remix of “Ready Or Not” remains a classic and still destroys dancefloors over 20 years later. And now thanks to Dubset’s partnership with Sony Music and DJ Zinc, you can stream this iconic remix via Apple Music.