“Big up Edinburgh! Big up Scotland!” The sharp barks from Stamina MC, Shy FX’s hip-hop compere, sharply wake us up. Towards the back of the stage, someone starts running on the spot. We’re ready.
It’s been just over two decades since Shy FX shot to fame with his Ragga-Jungle anthem “Original Nuttah”, which established him as a leading contributor to the jungle/drum and bass scene. He has since expanded into pop music; most of us will have heard of his re-edit of DJ Fresh’s “Gold Dust” which gained widespread popularity in 2012. This is just one example of how the DJ-producer has achieved success in combining music styles. In “Gold Dust”, we witness his characteristic reggae and drum and bass sounds meshing effortlessly with a well-known pop hook. Such achievements have helped further the popularisation of drum and bass as a mainstream music genre, and fortunately, this versatility was by no means lacking in his set.
The crowd’s anticipation is swapped for adrenalin when “Feelings” opens the night and the “uh uh uhs and yeah yeah yeahs” spark people into life. Their energy only continues as he plays the two favourites mentioned above: the pendulum movement of people’s bodies pick up pace at the sound of UK Apache’s reggae scatting and their chest-down-thrust-up gets faster and faster until the beat kicks in. Stamina MC also does well to please the crowd, mainly through his random booty-shaking and rapping, which, if we are lucky, happens at the same time.
Shy FX’s recent remix of “Hold Yuh” sadly did not feature in this set, but that was the least of our worries. His version of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” was the main point of concern. It created a dip in the otherwise seamless progression of music and elation. The emotional lyrics and gospel choir accompaniment of the original, with which we are all acquainted, clashed completely with the feel-good theme of the night. Smith’s song should not be used to get people dancing, rather, it should be enjoyed over a sob or, at least, an awkward memory. This being said, owing greatly to the conglomerate of intoxicated University of Edinburgh students, people were on their feet. Yet this reward is nothing compared to the credibility undermined in producing such a song.
Like Shy FX’s previous adaptation of Plan B’s “She Said”, this remix should have been portrayed with a slow-burning intensity that clearly reflects the seriousness of the lyrics it borrows. Instead, it took the song’s chorus and added an upbeat dance track to it. Perhaps this represents a bigger issue concerning dance music, which sometimes swaps musical integrity for recognition.
“Big up Shy FX” – but maybe have a think about your next edit.