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Rafi's Revenge

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Album Review

Much of the really interesting music coming out of England in the late '90s is being produced by members of what has come to be called the Asian Underground — a dancehall aristocracy of mostly South Asian DJs, producers, dub artists and instrumentalists who seem bent on completely transforming the U.K. dance-music scene into a welter of wildly various and pan-ethnic influences: bhangra, dub, ragga, funk, speed-rap and metal, even surf guitar and classical Hindustani music all get thrown into the stew, and the result is thick, spicy and delicious. On this release from Asian Dub Foundation, that vision is realized in tracks that blend Indian percussion with reggae basslines and jungle breakbeats, as on the head-banging "Buzzin," or which combine a straight one-drop reggae beat with Indian keyboard and pop vocal samples, as on "Black White." The singing is paradigmatic: vocalist Deedar sings and shouts in an accent divided in equal parts between Cockney, Indian and Jamaican. This is an exhausting but exhilarating album, and its depth and complexity of texture keep revealing new surprises with repeated listenings.


Formed: 1993 in Farringdon, London, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Asian Dub Foundation formed in 1993 as an outgrowth of the documentary Identical Beat, a film shot at London's Farringdon Community Music House, the site of a series of summer workshops designed to teach Asian children the essentials of music technology. In charge of the workshops were tutor Aniruddha Das and youth worker John Pandit, also a noted DJ; with one of their students, a 15-year-old Bengali rapper named Deedar Zaman, they soon formed a sound system that they called the Asian Dub Foundation....
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Rafi's Revenge, Asian Dub Foundation
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