Why do people make music that isn’t UKG? The perfect musical genre exists and yet musicians keep on making Folk, Tech-House, Opera, it’s like they just don’t know, which would make no sense for anyone with functioning ears and feet. Well praise the lord, we have the Bristol UKG fiend and 1020 Radio studio hand Longeez here to present some of the Nuuukg bangers that he plays out on his 1020 Radio show, (check out his debut release below). No customary Spotify playlist this week because the cuts are too damn rare, step up selecta!
Off the back of 2 already blinding releases, Equal People Records continue to push a forward-thinking garage sound, with cuts from J Desser, Masterplan and Highrise to sink into. “Deeper Knowledge” by the donny Masterplan is a lovely bumpy number, with super tight, skippy drums, laced together with punchy stabs and equally as punchy sub. A seriously groovy number that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
This isn’t a particularly new track, and EL-B is certainly no new-comer. If you are unfamiliar, El B is one of, if not the daddy of the darker 2 step sound, and with his Ghost label that has sadly ceased to exist, released classics such as 2000, The Club and Buck and Bury. “Wake the Neighbours” has been on people’s want list for years, finally getting a white label release in June 2020. This tune is a serious 4x4 belter, with the legend Karl ‘Tuff Enuf’ Brown assisting on the production, this tune absolutely slams, guaranteed to wake your neighbours (hopefully they like garage).
Ease Up George is part of a new generation of incredible producers, pushing a super forward, modern sound, while maintaining the cheeky soul of traditional 2 step. Sum Dank off of the upcoming ENTITY006 is an instant head-turner, with its incredible drum work, massive bass and overall hazy vibe. I would go as far top say that, for me, this is one of the most standout tracks of the year, because it just has so much presence. You can’t help but screw your face up when this one drops.
Highrise is one of the most prolific artists of the new UKG landscape. Also known for his jungle productions under the name Dwarde, Highrise has been smashing out the releases over the last few months, releasing on Equal People Records, Practical Rhythms and his own Flat Trax imprint just to name a few. The ‘Groovin’ EP on Rhythm ‘n’ Vibe is absolutely no exception, featuring 3 cuts of bumpy goodness, packed full of soul. The tune ‘Groovin’ stuck out in particular for its serious drum work and skittish groove, tied together by a warm, crunchy mix that you can’t help but nod your head too.
Ollie Rant has been killing it for a little while now, featuring on the sell-out Hardline Sound’s VA with ‘Only a few’ (An absolute blinder of a track), as well as being a Balamii radio regular and talented selector. This time, Ollie finds himself on the B side of the Mighty Highrise’s own label Flat Trax, with one of the most stand out tunes of the year. It’s got it all, snappy, skippy drums, a dreamy organ that sounds like it’s under water, and Ollie’s signature use of interesting samples, while managing to maintain the soul of the oldschool tunes we know and love. Expect serious things from mister Rant.
Main Phase has been on an absolute war path this year, releasing some of the hardest, old-meets-new garage tunes of the year, each one punching as hard as the last. His debut EP “Cold up North” on warehouse raves remains one of my favourite EP releases of the year, so when word got out that his 2nd EP “Cool Down” was dropping in July I had high hopes. I was not disappointed, with every cut featuring his jungle-esc drum work and dark, urban moods. ‘Bluku’ is the opening tune to the ep, pushing a dark, grimey tone, peppered with echoed vocal chops and a badboy bassline, a serious track from a serious producer.
Zero FG is quickly becoming one of the most influential producers of the new UKG movement, with a backlog of incredible self-released material on his Bandcamp, and a recent release on the infamous Dr Banana label (DBR10) which is honestly a must buy (if you can find a copy). 3 Feet Deep’s second release features 4 seriously forward-thinking cuts from. Main Phase, Ollie Rant, Pépé Elle and the man in question, Zero FG. His track ‘Heavy Rain’ is a real roller, featuring a super unique bassline and really crispy drums that is guaranteed a wheel up as soon as it drops. [Editor’s note: OIIIIIIIIIIIIIII FUCK OFF]
Peaky Beats, also known for his minimal tunes as MYR, has built up one of my favourite labels in the UKG scene right now. With 2 sell-out releases under his belt already, on top of features on Ruffset, 4 the Massive, Fraise London and more, Peaky is a seriously talented chap. Teaming up with the equally talented Pinder, this dynamic duo has a strong track record of blinding releases together and as independent artists. Their latest collaborative effort, PBR003, is one of their best to date, featuring fun, punchy production while remaining dynamic and forward-thinking. “Up North” is all of those things with a speed garage twist and it absolutely SLAPS! You’d be a fool to sleep on this one.
Getting a much deserved second mention on this list, Pinder is easily one of the most talented UKG producers in the scene, with every new release pushing the sound in new directions. Released on his Bandcamp in January, PINDER002 is the second in his series of self-released EP’s featuring 2 serious tracks, Automatic and Old Spice. Automatic is one of my favourite single tunes of this year, it’s a fast paced, light-hearted track, that walks the line between 2 step and 4x4, all while being a seriously groovy tune. A serious tune for any mix or club that’s bound to get people dancing.
Sky Joose is a legend in the game, being part of the first wave of more experimental 2 step and speed garage back in the day and releasing some seriously heavyweight jungle tunes in the 90s and early 2000s. After a lengthy hiatus, Sky Joose is back, releasing on Practical Rhythms deput EP, which also features tunes and remixes from Ease ep George, Holloway and El B. “Garage Bunnies” is a seriously unique tune, and a real standout track on the ep, featuring sampled vocals from the legendary film “Babylon”. The drums are unlike any other tune I’ve heard, and the whole track has such an interesting, fun and punchy progression that’ll keep you coming back over and over, in fact I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to this daily since its release.