Words by The Large—
Jungle legend Shy FX recently returned in surprising fashion, hitting us with some vintage reggae flavor on the sublime single “Soon Come” with singer Liam Bailey. Of course, that got us reminiscing about the original tune that put Shy FX on our radar, back in the mid ’90s—”Original Nuttah”! Here, to break down the phenomenon is U.K. correspondent The Large of T-shirt brand/design squad/dancehall blog Shimmy Shimmy
Though I was far too young to be in a club when this tune dropped in 1994, I think it’s safe to say almost every person under the age of 40 in the UK knows this classic—and it still brings down the dance. “Original Nuttah” was released the year that jungle really did become massive—major labels had started taking note, and it was making its way onto the UK charts, before starting to fade away about a year later.
Shy FX had already been around for a few singles, but this collab with UK Apachi was his real breakout hit. Together they created a track that summed up London dance music in the early nineties—the moment rave met ragga, cockney met patois, and fast chat met fast beats: We come fi originate, alright mate? Know what yer doing, mate?…Watch mi tell dem, rude bwoy. For the generation that have grown up with grime, garage and UK funky, the meeting of sounds might seem like second nature, but ragga jungle was a groundbreaking moment.
Shy took influences from all over and refracted them through the prism of Britishness—layering gangsta samples from Goodfellas and Cypress Hill over the Amen break, while UK Apache borrowed Anthony Red Rose’s flow and ad-libs for that ultimate sing-a-long part. It was clear the future of UK music had a Jamaican heritage. The video for the tune, of course, followed the frantic energy of the song with some equally manic visuals.
Twenty years on, there’s still only one way to dance to this tune—like a nuttah!