Is it a novelty record or is it a masterful artwork? We may never know. All that we can be sure of is that it has passed the one test which determines whether or not a song will go down in history – as a rave-cutting banger, or be forgotten, coveted by only the most obscure-geared hipster – and that is that there is a Bollywood cover version (no, no, no – there really actually is – links below) So what is this mysterious ballad? Where did it come from? Will it ever die? The lyricism employed throughout the song is the timeless mantra of the heavily-dosed, the wide eyed warrior on the endless plain of the concrete floor, and the aging floor manager, searching for his rizla for the thirtieth roll-up of the afternoon alike. Those immortal words are:
“ey eym, badayum, a one la dy day in badayum, badayum, ba one la dy day ey eym, badayum a one la dy day in ba day in bad d d d d one la dy daym gwan!”
Or something along those lines (it’s a great dishonour, I’m aware, to not know the actual lyrics but maybe its all about finding your own. [It’s quite obviously not. Prick.] (If someone thinks they have them – or Jah yourself, if you’re reading this, and can find it in your infinite love and mercy, please email me them and put me straight.)
Heard throughout the country and indeed the world these words hold power only previously bestowed to the chants and incantations of mystic shamans and revered magic men in far corners of the globe; the power to heal, to motivate, to alleviate, to transform, to bring you above the realm of mere mortals to the kingdom of the demi-gods – and most importantly, to bring together, as one. As the great Skinner says of MDMA “they could end wars with this, if only they would”.
So what is this instant reload pressed onto acetate posing amongst others as a lowly chorus of vibrations?
It is, of course, SL2’s ‘On A Ragga Tip’.
Originally released in the April of 1992, the song even enjoyed commercial success and spent eight weeks in the top 10. This is nothing to be sniffed at for a rave track by any means – the thought, for instance, of Doctor P’s seminal noise ‘Tetris’ even making the top 40 when it was released seems alien in the extreme. But here it is that ‘Ragga Tip’ holds its appeal. It walks all over boundaries by not even acknowledging them. It is the sound of pure celebration, celebration of life, death and the raves of our ancestors, indeed passed down from raver to raver regardless of relation – be it father to son, friend to friend, or even stranger to stranger. But more than that, it is a gift, a coming-of-age and an open-door opportunity all in one; once it is experienced, it takes a serious deficiency of soul to ignore.
It calls you to a world separate from the ‘normal’ material world, it screams lovingly at you “THIS IS NOT AS GOOD AS IT GETS” in everyday situations – at the pub, at work or at the clurb – and it pushes you, hand-in-hand, out of these places and out of these bonds, to spiritual fulfilment.
Like only a certain type of song can do, for example Skreams ‘Midnight Request Line’ or CJ Bollands ‘Sugar Is Sweeter’ (sugar daddy), it manages to be one of the defining songs of a genre without being archetypal of said genre, instantly recognizable to from first blend to third reload, a song which stands out above others but is somehow so humble it can be played alongside almost anything. These certain types of song have the effect of instantly making better any situation, be it a haircut, weekly shop or relation’s funeral, simply by being thrown into the mix. The simplicity of the song is the essence of it, for me, and any attempt to remix it is usually to take away from it. If something ain’t broke don’t fix it. Unless you know you can create some sort of super-creation, however this is not necessary if what you are attempting to fix is all ready a super-creation, (That being said there is an excellent ukulele cover). The song itself is a remix of sorts however, at the very least an update which samples heavily from the original, one Jah Screechy’s ‘Walk and Skank’. So is the essence in the original or in the new creation? I don’t know. But is the beauty of the diamond only seen when it is cut? Personally I believe there it is the masterful stroke of the artist to take the entity and craft it into something new which becomes an entity of its own, surpassing its original form but also staying true to its essence. Is the material landscape from which the artist drew the essence of the painting or is it the painting itself? It may be, then, that the fact the artist has seen great beauty in something and has chosen, as he may feel is his duty, to isolate and to document that beauty so others may enjoy it too is the real beauty – Are we simply marvelling at his creation?
And that, in a nutshell, is why the Hardcore rave anthem ‘On A Ragga Tip’ is a timeless wonder which should be shared, enjoyed, and most importantly learned from, by all. And if you don’t like it, suck your mum, badbwoi.