In the drum and bass world, MC Navigator is probably best known for his work in the 90s with the Freestylers, but he’s been around a lot longer than electronic music. Navigator cut his teeth on reggae and sound system beginning in the late ’70s, also becoming involved in dance hall reggae before finding jungle in 1991 with the legendary ragga group the Ragga Twins. His work with the Freestylers was absolutely instrumental in forming the basis for modern jungle and drum and bass, and samples from their discography still abound. In fact, even Bassnectar remixed the Freestylers track “Cracks.”
Since the Freestylers’ heyday, Navigator has gone back and forth between his reggae roots and his other passion, electronic music, and his desire to continue to fuse the two genres is evident in his upcoming full-length album, Alignment. The album is Navigator’s debut of this kind, but it’s more than a long time coming. Alignment is meant to drop along with a documentary Navigator has been involved in called “The Evolution of a London MC: Journey to Alignment,” which is meant to chronicle Navi’s life and also how he came to be one of the most prolific MCs in jungle and drum and bass today.
Alignment, as the title suggests, is a way for Navigator to align the musical genres he likes best. It features 27 tracks with a huge amount of guest mixes and MCs. In terms of the styles that can be found on the album, it really runs the gamut. “Powers Everlasting,” for example, combines dancehall and ragga in an upbeat mix by Liondub, while album opener “Sound the Alarm (Serum VIP)” merges an old school drum and bass beat with Navi’s smooth vocals and jungle samples.
One of the most interesting and high-energy sub-genre fusions on Alignment is “Judge Me,” a track Navigator collaborated on with Roni Size, No Money and Erb n Dub. This track, which Your EDM is premiering, combines an early ’00s jump up beat, the style for which Roni Size is known, with classic ragga vocals from Navigator and techy, Pendulum-style synths. It’s easily one of the best and most diverse tracks on the album, and is a great example of what Navigator was trying to achieve in fusing not only genres on Alignment put periods of his own history and, effectively, the history of jungle and drum and bass.
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*Alignment will drop along with the third installment of MC Navigator’s documentary on August 2.