Image via Chelone Wolf

Is DJ Hype’s Playaz Dungeon the drum & bass cure for the pandemic blues? HRDNZ investigates.

While this slice of the drum & bass internet might have been dormant for a month and some change, it’s not like we haven’t been paying attention, or dying to talk about some things. During this dark period, there was a series of tweets that drum & bass legend DJ Hype posted earlier this month that hit us hard (no pun intended), but we had no idea of what they’d turn into—aka The Playaz Dungeon. That wasn’t even a thing, yet.

The Playaz Dungeon? What is the Playaz Dungeon?

That’s what we are here for. We will get to all of the fun going down in the Dungeon in due time. It all starts with Hype and where his heads at anyways, so let’s just get to the source.

First off, Hype not smoking? I’ve literally never known a time where that was a thing. It was the bit about ignoring the dnb scene and dealing with personal issues that struck. That’s been a huge factor for HRDNZ going dormant; life got in the way of the passion. The passion was still there (and we have the audio recordings to prove it), but things had to get taken care of in one arena to make way for another.

This was about DJ Hype and something called the Playaz Dungeon, though, right?

Yes, let’s get to DJ Hype and the Playaz Dungeon. It’s actually coincidental that Hype took a break from the scene during the pandemic, as it was a time when I was personally making Apple Music playlists for my favorite tunes from the True Playaz era. Everything that Hype, Pascal, and DJ Zinc were doing as The Ganja Kru, as solo artists, as well as the music they were releasing on their own labels was vital in helping myself and a number of stateside junglists-in-training bridge the gap from hip-hop to drum & bass.

Sounds glorious. What happened to The Ganja Kru?

DJ Zinc took a trip down a number of different BPMs, and Pascal settled into a quieter lane altogether. DJ Hype kept at it full force, joining Kiss FM for a phenomenal run of dnb radio programming. Hype’s not only got deep crates full of unreleased heat, but he’s a surgeon on the decks as well. Even at an hour, DJ Hype’s Kiss FM shows were like club sets that happened to hit radio.

I bring all of that up to say that when I then read Hype saying that he’s feeling “fired up” who realized that he wasn’t not even working at his full potential, and that 2021 would be the start of a new chapter? I was hype (OK, OK, pun fully intended). Why? Because I knew what we were going to be receiving: Playaz dubs.

Tell them about how you were late to the Playaz Dungeon discovery, though.

Chill, fam. You’re right, but let me do this. Anyways, this discovery led me to hitting Hype’s Instagram, where this noisy little ditty had apparently been booming in the Playaz Dungeon a few days prior to these tweets.

Who produced this?! Can we get an ID on this one?!

Hype’s hashtag game is glorious (loving the #findingmyfeetagain), but it’s the banger coming out of those bins that is doing everyone’s head in, and the knowing “we’re back!” before the beat dropped. Two weeks later and Harry Shotta’s still in the comments trying to identify this one, but it left us with different questions. Is this Playaz Dungeon an actual place? Where would one find it? Let’s inv-

Let’s investigate!

What did I just say?! Ahem: alright, let’s investigate.

OK, so Hype spelled #PlayazDungeon wrong in that post, but fear not, that’s not where this investigation ends. We found the correct Playaz Dungeon hashtag, and it’s kind of insane to see a pocket of dnb creativity forming in real time. Rocking what appears to be a “New Playaz” t-shirt, MC Daddy Earl joined Hype for a practice sessionin the same room from the above IG post.

There’s also video of DJ Profile and Fatman D in the Playaz Dungeon about a week ago going through some tunes. This week, DJ Hype shared that the one and only DJ Bailey was among a number of drum & bass badmen visited the Playaz Dungeon this past Friday night, an experience Bailey called “very intense but very honest.” This was just days after Bailey shared that he and Hype had recently had a two-hour conversation via phone.

(Playaz) Dungeon Family: (l-r) Mozey, DJ Limited, DJ Hype, DJ Bailey, MC Fatman D

Based on what Hype shared to Instagram on Friday, it looks like DJ Limited dropped some cuts in the Dungeon, Bailey broke something, and DJ Ollie and Tyke also came through, as did Jamie Rodigan, who shared that he was testing out tunes on that massive rig that plays one of the most vital parts of the Playaz Dungeon.

“New material,” eh?

What does the Playaz Dungeon symbolize?

In one clip, we see DJ Hype at the decks, rolling out some serious beats. I can distinctly remember being in the dance back in the day and the reaction to a Playaz tune coming out of the speakers. The whole squad would immediately hit the floor to revel in the bass; w lived for that. And it’s not like “jump up” or whatever you want to call their style of music has gone away—sometimes, it’s all you hear at dnb parties—but what Hype’s cooking in the Playaz Dungeon feels like a return to form. Going back to the future. Some real, True Playaz shit.

Would love to get our hands on these bits, too…

Are we any closer to understanding what the Playaz Dungeon is?

Two weeks ago, we barely knew the Playaz Dungeon existed. Now? Hype’s given us a full breakdown of what he is envisioning this space place Dungeon to be.

This is the house of pain and these are the only rules Be original as you can ,no stale used a million times samples in your music ,no tracks that are blatant rips offs of some one else’s music ,but you can be INFLUENCED by other artist music as long as it’s not blatant ,no stale lyrics ,no spitting someone else’s song or lyrics ,write your own Material … DJs and MCs across all genres are welcome and you must be REAL ,if you are being fake ie .Walking around like you a Roadman when you are not ,or talking all Roadman when your not and that you respect everyone down there regardless of colour ,music style ,sexuality or class then we welcome you—#playazdungeon

DJ Hype, Instagram

Now this is what I like to see. DJ Hype’s been around the scene long enough to know that if you want to reclaim your throne while continuing to push the scene forward, you have to create an open space for experimentation that is a free environment for all.

So let’s catch that flight!

Due to geography and age, I’ll never be able to hit Music House. I was never down at The Note. Hell, who knows if I’ll ever make it to the Playaz Dungeon. What I do know is that any environment for the dnb scene where artists can be in a space where they can a) test out their latest heat, which will likely lead to b) friendly competition, one would hope that we could achieve c) a much more vibrant drum & bass scene.

It’s also dope to see that inclusion of all types is being encouraged in Hype’s caption. Some commenters on Instagram asked if there could be a livestream from the Playaz Dungeon. That may be easier said than done, especially in terms of keeping certain dubs out of the public limelight until they are ready, but a Playaz Halloween bash on Twitch live from the #PlayazDungeon? Count me in. Put all that drum & bass diversity on display.

So, now what?

Now, true believer, we wait. It’s been roughly two weeks of DJ Hype starting taking us on a (virtual) trip to the Playaz Dungeon. This moment also sounds like one that’s evolving as we speak. The end result could be anything; this could turn into a brand-new Playaz compilation album, sourcing tunes from these Dungeon sessions. Or maybe Hype’s going to drop some new tunes. Whatever the case may be, with the way the world has been affected by the coronavirus, having a space where creatives can (safely) congregate to share ideas and new art with each other is dire. Maybe it will become a thing. Maybe the Playaz Dungeon is the thing. More than likely, it will be the spark that will drive something else entirely to be created…

Kinda like your return to HRDNZ, huh?

Precisely, true believer. #HRD