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An early chart hero during the early-'90s rave explosion and the leader of the growing happy hardcore nation later in the decade, Slipmatt changed the course of hardcore techno towards a serious artist-oriented direction -- more in line with earlier dance styles like house, techno and drum'n'bass, all of which endured a period of critical rebuke before emerging as styles "worthy" of critical comment and praise. As a DJ, producer, dance-mag reviewer and head of the crucial United Dance label, he became the don of happy hardcore.
Born and raised in Essex, Slipmatt loved music from an early age and became entranced with punk, ska and dub during the early '80s. After working for a mobile DJ from the age of 16, he bought his own turntables and started mixing records by himself. A partnership with another DJ, Lime, resulted in the single "Do That Dance," recorded as SL2 for B-Ware Records. The duo self-released their second record, "DJs Take Control," which just narrowly missed the British Top Ten in late 1991. Their next single, "On a Ragga Tip," became another rave anthem, tied to the emergence of rastafied breakbeat techno -- exemplified by the Prodigy and Shut Up and Dance, and a heavy influence on the development of jungle/drum'n'bass several years later. After being licensed to XL Recordings, it stormed to the number four position in the British charts.
SL2 disintegrated soon after however, leaving Slipmatt back in the rave scene, which was fast turning underground. Instead of following the emerging dark sound, he decided to promote the original positive vibes of rave by forming Universal, Awesome and United Dance Records. By the mid-'90s, a quite respectable scene was evolving out of the sound, dubbed happy hardcore. Though critical respect was in a minority, Slipmatt began getting much attention and even a few cover stories as the leader. He mixed four volumes in the Mixmag Live! series (one with old pal Lime) and an equal number for the United Dance series, including the excellent retrospective United Dance Presents: The Anthems 92-97. ~ John Bush
- Loughton, Essex, England
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