Soul Clap - Nice 'N' Ripe Allstars

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  • No one label defined the '90s UK garage sound quite like Nice 'N' Ripe. In a nutshell, they are to UK garage what Salsoul is to disco. Soul Clap are not the obvious choice to put together a mix of the label's music (what with them being American and all that). But scratch the surface and you'll find that the duo have been following garage since the mid-'90s, when Eli Goldstein discovered a Dreem Teem mix CD on the cover of Muzik during a trip to the UK with his parents. The Soul Clap boys even put on UK garage nights in their home town of Boston in the early '00s, so there's no question they know their stuff. Soul Clap are, at their core, diggers, and UK garage is just another style they've got their teeth into alongside disco, Chicago house and hip-hop. Rather than putting together a definitive "best of" round-up, it seems Soul Clap chose to favour the more obscure end of Nice 'N' Ripe's catalogue. It's interesting that some of the label's best work is omitted: "Together" and "All Nighter" from 24 Hour Experience, Time Out's "Give Me Love" and Behind The Mask's "I Can't Help Myself," to name just a few. It's easy to appreciate what Soul Clap have tried to do by ignoring such obvious anthems. But in truth, Nice 'N' Ripe's catalogue is so huge and so legendary—over 100 releases on more than 20 sub-labels—that there's no reason for any track on this compilation to be anything less than outstanding. Most of the music here is good, but really it should all be great. It's also worth noting that the mix attempts to re-contextualise the '90s garage sound through Soul Clap's trademark DJ style. The tempo is significantly lower than it would be if a London garage DJ had put it together. That's not necessarily a problem—until you get to the lukewarm breakbeat section in the middle of the mix. This plays to the duo's love of R&B, but this kind of thing isn't what Nice 'N' Ripe were good at. Soul Clap have also tried to add their own flavor with a few re-edits. This is usually their strong suit, but here their edits feel unnecessary. This is in no way a bad collection of tracks, or even a bad mix. I'd urge anyone who doesn't know them to check out Grant Nelson's "In My Soul" or Big Bird's "Flav"—they're absolutely killer and typical of what made the '90s UK garage sound so enchanting: skippy drums, jungle-influenced bass and US house keys come together to create one of the most enticing dance music formulas of all time. But considering Nice 'N' Ripe is the archetypal garage label, this feels like a missed opportunity. The real sticking point is that there are plenty of good mixes like this available online, so for this one to really warrant your attention (and cash), it would need to be head and shoulders above anything that's available for free. Soul Clap are great DJs and Nice N Ripe was a fantastic label. It's just a shame that together the sum is less than its parts.
  • Tracklist
      1. To Go - R-U-Reddy (Underground Instrumental Mix) 2. 24Hour Experience feat. Lorraine Lowe - Give Me That Love (Stepper’s Mix) 3. Urban Myths feat. Tiny - Pop No Style (Soul Clap Chocolate Fudge Edit) 4. Sylvester - Turn Table Mixer 5. Dangerous Liaison - Smoov 6. N-ergy - Changes (Bongo Dub Mix) 7. 3-Play - Rio 8. 24Hour Experience - Emotions 9. Intergration - Dubment 10. Grant Nelson - In My Soul (Soul Clap Nice ‘N’ Ruff Edit) 11. 24Hour Experience - Jazz From The Heart (Old Skool Re-Edit) 12. Thermo Statik - Men Beat The Drum (2 Taboo Remix) 13. Slypaul - Slypaul’s Groove 14. O.J.H. - Right Size 15. Planet Detroit - Find The Way (Soul Clap Smooth Jam Yumme Day Break Flute Edit) 16. Vision - Girl Let Me 17. Dub Syndicate Productions - The Big Chill 18. Strickly Dubz - I Can’t Stand 19. Urban Myths - I Just Can’t Help Myself (Original Version) 20. Ty Holden & James Reynolds - Nobody Else (Stepper’s Delight) 21. Jeremy Sylvester - Got To Go 22. Big Bird - Flav 23. Industry Standard - What You Want (Soul Clap Deep Edit) 24. Richard Purser - The Funk Daze 25. Livin’ Large feat. Colonel Abrams - Love Is What We Need (Radio Edit) 26. 24Hour Experience - Mantra 27. Sherwood - My Slave 28. Reflex One - I Need To Know (Main Mix) 29. Sly ‘Patiently 4 Love (2-Step Dub) 30. GOD feat. Frankie Paul - Kissing Game (Large Joint Slappy Mix)