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Shut Up and Dance

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Ragga-techno hit-makers and sampling pirates without equal on Britain's early hardcore breakbeat scene, Shut Up & Dance were an early influence on the development of jump-up breakbeats and b-bwoy attitude into the streamlined version of drum'n'bass which emerged later in the '90s. The duo of PJ & Smiley, both residents of East End stronghold Stoke Newington, formed both the label and group Shut Up & Dance out of their bedroom in 1988. The imprint first released records by the Ragga Twins and Nicolette during 1989 before Shut Up & Dance the group debuted later that year. Early singles like "£10 to Get In" and "Derek Went Mad" displayed the pair's approach to hardcore techno -- sampling well-known pop groups with little fear of retribution, piling chunky breakbeats over the top, evincing plenty of ragga attitude and displaying an unflinching criticism of the emerging rave scene's dark side. Follow-ups from their 1990 debut album Dance Before the Police Come! became early anthems in the hardcore/jump-up scene. The year 1992 brought another album and the chart-hit "Raving, I'm Raving"; with a vocal by ex-dancehall DJ Peter Bouncer, the single hit number two on the British charts midway through the year and sparked another modest hit, "Autobiography of a Crackhead." Unfortunately, the success brought copyright lawyers from at least six major labels, responding to obvious transgressions against their artists. Shut Up & Dance spent two years of legal wrangling, in similar fashion to American hip-hop contemporaries like Biz Markie and De La Soul; the hassles eventually bankrupted their label. After re-emerging in 1994 with their response (an EP titled Phuck the Biz), the duo recorded third album Black Men United for Pulse-8 in 1995. ~ John Bush

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1988 in Stoke Newington, London, England

Years Active:

'80s, '90s, '00s