The individuals that formed and became the Full Cycle crew—led by drum & bass vets Roni Size, DJ Die, DJ Krust, and DJ Suv—taught me about drum & bass—my journey over the years with this Databass set from DJ Die is a perfect example.
Trust, I definitely mentioned that I had copped Goldie’s Timeless, which would’ve made my proper introduction to the world of dnb that album. That said, I really look at my proper trek through what dnb had to offer a few years later, when a trip to Princeton Record Exchange netted me copies of Roni Size/Reprazent’s Mercy Award-winning debut album New Forms and V Classic Vol. 1, which I copped because Roni Size had a tune on it called “It’s Jazzy”; imagine my astonishment when I also got to discover material from Dillinja and Ray Keith…but I digress.
I’m only mentioning all of this to give you a glimpse at how long I’ve really been in tune to the sound. Before I’d hit any kind of dnb rave, I’d seen Reprazent performing LIVE in Central Park around the time their sophomore album had dropped, and was well indoctrinated to the world of message boards, trading MP3s of studio mixes and radio shows…which brings me to this magnificent Databass set from DJ Die with the impeccable Dynamite MC chatting things up.
Let’s rewind just a bit
Because of my age and how much information I’m trying to retain so that it’ll be committed to spaces like this, I have to bring things back before really diving into this set. Long story short, at the point in my life where I first downloaded this mix (maybe spring/summer of 2001?), I’d barely set foot outside of the East Coast of the United States, and certainly didn’t know much about the totality of the LA dnb scene to know about spaces like Unit A and/or Databass, where this mix hails from.
Based on a few conversations from a few years ago, I got the impression that Unit A and Databass are essentially the same; I believe Unit A was the venue or room that these mixes (yes, mixes; everyone from Teebee to Stakka & Skynet to DJ Krust had “Live at Unit A” mixes hit the ‘net). Don’t ask me why DJ Die’s set would’ve been referred to as being “Live at Databass” when Databass appears to be the club night in LA, as you can see via this John B video from a performance at the night. It’d be one thing if Dynamite didn’t say that it was an “internet radio thing”, and there was no ROCKING A LIVE CROWD RIGHT NOW energy from Dynamite or Die. It’s kind of confusing, but it’s etched in stone now, right? I actually remember the majority of these mixes coming with the classic #sour .nfo files; you wouldn’t get much in the way of real INFO, but you’d know that the audio would be crisp and you’d be hearing something that you’d never heard before. I wasn’t prepared for almost 20 years of dub hunting.
The art of trainspotting
True story: I almost called this site trainspotting.com, in homage to the art of spotting tunes as they were entering a DJ’s mix. Back then, the name of the game was trying to ID new bits. Some were easy to identify; DJ Zinc was the first DJ I’d heard play Technical Itch’s “The Rukus” in a DJ mix (Feb. 2002 studio mix, which I can feature here in a future edition!), but that song literally says “BRING THE RUKUS” through out it. Also helped that even if you hadn’t heard the tune back then, you’d heard ABOUT it. I say all of that to say that, every few years, I’d try and tackle the question marks and confused scraps of vocal samples heard to try and piece together track titles, particular sonic flourishes to try and ID the producer, and other tricks. Practically everything that was on vinyl/CD at the time of the mix had been properly identified—it’s the beginning of the real Brazilian drum & bass craze, so cuts like DJ Patife’s “Sambassim” remix are featured. Those always-producing Full Cycle guys, though? They had ’nuff dubs, to the point where they probably memorized Music House labels but not track titles.
Back in 2014, I got so frustrated in trying to finalize this 13-year-old (at the time) Databass mix’s tracklist, that I tweeted Die (someone I’ve had random convos with, but not someone I could remotely say knew who I was) to see if he could make sense of the tracklist, which had gaping holes in it since breaksblog posted it back in May of 2007. Fair play to Die, he tried, and while he didn’t give anything in the way of track titles, he did give us some leads on producers…many of which ended up being on the money when I dug deeper into this last week.
It all started with this Bryan Gee Telepathy “Live Sessions” mix from 2001. My sinister plan, sadly, was to mine the tracklist to see if anything I had been looking for was also in this…but with actual information. Surprisingly, a number of the unidentified tunes in this very mix were found in that one, and after an extremely helpful reply actually ID’d some of these tunes, I had what I needed: some fuel to further figure out what these tracks were.
Doing some light Googles, I found this RollDaBeats post (is that site even being updated with new releases anymore?!), which was a massive collection of Full Cycle dubs from roughly ’93 through the end of the 2000s. A number of these tunes I’d been looking for—”Bread Winner” by Scorpio (aka Roni Size and DJ Die) or Roni Size’s “Zak Attack”—were confirmed, allowing me to plug in some holes throughout Die’s Databass set.
The actual mix!
And what a set it is. Die’s on a roll; this was before his Synthetix EP dropped, but he gets a rewind on the title track while also dropping other tunes from the EP, as well as teasing his classics like “Drop Bear”. DJ Patife gets love, Roni’s massive collab with Rahzel also got some love. That said, it’s the dubs—especially the bits that we still can’t identify. Track 11 was listed as a Surge tune, and it makes sense. Surge is low-key underrated when it comes to the more lethal dancefloor-focused material from the crew. This tune must have been getting continuously worked on, as the version Die plays here feels a bit more underdeveloped compared to the versions played in Krust’s Unit A set and an extremely random Mampi Swift set from a Canadian dnb radio show in May of 2001.
Damn near every dub is insane, Die is a master on the decks—I learned many of these tunes based on his blends. Dynamite MC, though, is a real character. There are a bunch of inside jokes he shares while promoting their upcoming set at Fais Do Do around this time. If he wasn’t so good at emceeing, I’d ask if he’d try his hand at mid-day radio or something. Dude’s got a gift.
Speaking of gifts, here you go. A now-19-year-old set that I’ve been able to plug all but four(!) unknown tunes in. If you know this set, you know what time it is. If not, click the play button to stream it in full below, or grab the MP3 via this old AF link from bassboxx. You’re welcome!
[00:00] 00. Dynamite MC blahblah intro
[00:54] 01. DJ Patife & Max De Castro – Carnaval (V)
[02:54] >>> DJ Die – Drop Bear (Full Cycle)
[06:58] 02. Roni Size feat. Rahzel – Out of Breath (V)
[09:56] 03. ?? Surge ?? (”get down”)
[14:33] 04. DJ Patife feat. Fernanda Porto – Sambassim (V)
[17:30] 05. Scorpio – Bread Winner (dubplate)
[20:50] 06. Kamanchi – Warrior Ship (dubplate)
[24:45] 07. ?? Future Cut ?? (rollin’, orchestral string samples)
[28:16] 08. DJ Die – Stop (Full Cycle)
[30:03] 09. Kamanchi – Right Now (Full Cycle)
[35:32] 10. DJ Krust – Knowledge (dubplate)
[37:48] 11. ?? Surge ??
[40:09] 12. DJ Die – Synthetix (Full Cycle) rewind
[46:05] 13. DJ Die – Rollerball (Full Cycle)
[49:00] 14. Roni Size – Zak Attack (dubplate)
[53:13] 15. ?? Roni Size ??
[55:41] 16. Roni Size / Reprazent – Killer Noise (dubplate)
[58:46] 17. Roni Size & Krust – Hop Scotch (Full Cycle)
[60:14] 18. Scorpio – Scorpio Slice (dubplate)
[65:40] 19. Dillinja – Sovereign Melody (Deadly Vinyl)
[69:37] 20. Roni Size & Reprazent feat. Zack De La Rocha – Centre Of The Storm (Talkin’ Loud)