Having first started as an events company showcasing reggae and dancehall, DJ Shep originally founded the Nice Up! label imprint as a means to release exclusive remixes and one drops on vinyl to help promote the events side of the business. Since that original idea, the label has without a doubt grown into one of the UK’s leading experimental dub, reggae and jungle platforms, with a host of the most sought after vocal talent making regular appearances. One of the things that makes the project so unique is their incredible selection of collaborative link ups, from P Money & Chronixx to Riddim Punks, Eva Lazarus & Taxman and then back to Adam Prescott, Dynamite MC, Jah Screechy and Woz, the creativity behind their catalogue holds no bounds. As they continue to push the boundaries of Jamaican influenced music here in the UK, the future has never looked brighter for Nice Up!
Review: Since their inception, there are few labels that have been able to tie the fusion of Jamaican system-influenced sounds with the UK underground as well as the Nice Up! Team. We have been absolutely loving their journey in recent times, with this latest selection seeing them gathering some of their biggest hitters for one of our favourite compilation drops of 2021. That list of heavy hitters includes the likes of Danny T, Tradesman, Red Eye HiFi, Taxman, Escape Roots and many more, all of whom contribute a fantastic combination of instrumental and vocal fire. The quality level is so high, from the footwork inspired drum rolls of Casement's 'Mutiny', to Congi's spacious rethink of Origin One's 'Dead & Buried' and even Gray's big room recreation of 'Strangers' from Mr Benn & Tiya X An. There are a couple of clear highlights for us, including Wrongtom's dubwise rethink of Seanie T's 'Veterans', which features one of the most vibrant collections of UK hip hop vocalists we have ever seen. As well as this, the Riddim Punks rework of Think Tonk & General Jah Mikey's 'None Of Dem' is anthem material if ever we heard it. Fantastic work!
Review: Over the years the Nice Up! Imprint has continued to supply us with forward thinking, dubwise-influenced original creations, with this new second selection, entitled 'Deeply Remixed' seeing some of Origin One's best work put into the blender. The project is stacked with exciting overhauls, including inputs from Zero T, T-Kay, Congi, Rukus and more, all supplying colourful flavours to the table. There are a few real standouts, with Robot Riddims giving 'World Peace' an uplifting twist, doused in electronic energy, next to the spacey tones of MNTX's rethink of Jah Jah. There is also something very satisfying about LVNDLXRD's sub-heavy garage version of 'Gyal A Wine Up', again adding to the versatility of this fantastic selection.
Review: If there is one thing the Nice Up! team are undeniably solid at, its putting together a good set of remixes, with this latest 'Deepy Remixed' project being a perfect example of that, seeing numerous artists rework Origin One tracks into brand new masterpieces. This new selection of eight heaters showcases the full breadth of the Nice Up! Sound, from the digital dub designs of Sub Alpine's 'Tribute' remix alongside MC Spyda & K.O.G, to the hardcore, more junglist influenced recreation of 'Where You Come From' from Supa Ape and Peppery. There is also a fantastic push towards newschool dancehall production throughout the tape, especially on Folding City's remix of 'My Yout' alongside Irah, Mr Benn's 'Nice & Easy' rework with Gardna and Nanci Correia. The project also features top tier additions from Think Tonk, Gold Dubs, Bim One, Danny & Tradesman, making this a standout remix release of 2021 so far.
Review: With loping dancehall funk and autotuned reggae vibes, this single from Think Tonk and General Mikey is the perfect envelope of music for carnival season. The weather is improving and the lockdown restrictions are easing, and these two have roped in two remixers to beef up an already perfect original. 'None of Dem' is legitimate dancehall, full of integrity and grounded in the partyland ethos that sees bashment, reggae and dub meet in a technicolour explosion of good vibes. Riddim Punks toughens things up with a drum & bass flip, whilst Red Eye Hifi lays out the kicks in an even harder rendition that crosses genre boundaries with ease. Lovely stuff.
Review: Over the years we have seen the Nice Up! Team deliver a really wide range of creations, often focussing on the more dubwise end of the spectrum. This time around however, we see them unveil this killer new footwork-style selection from Casement and boy is it impactful. We begin with the super grimey synthesizer work and choppy breakbeat grooves of the title track 'Mutiny', which is set to bring life to any party. Next, we continue the grimey-influences as the eskimo-infused melodies and percussive clicks of 'Thunder' take us somewhere completely different, before finishing up the EP with 'Movement', a crunchy experiment in rhythm and sub. A very tidy selection indeed!
Review: Boy oh boy do we love to hear from Escape Roots, following his album earlier this year with this fantastic new single drop alongside the legendary Tenor Youthman. The original mix for this one is a sumptuous modernized reggae original, providing a futuristic digidub soundscape, over which Tenor is giving the licence to roam freely with his instantaneously recognizable vocal texture. From here we then dive into the remix creations as Somah firstly provides us with an aquatic warbler of an overhaul, focussing in on the more dubstep-end of the spectrum, followed by even more futuristic production sounds of Samson Sounds, who remixes the track into a sweeping viber, upping the tempo slightly as he goes.
Review: Riddim Punks is dropping an album on Nice Up and the results are distinctly impressive. The features they've managed to bring in particular, as Rider Shafique, the Ragga Twins, Eva Lazarus, Chronixx and P Money all get in on the fun. There's a moody intro track from Rider Shafique which sets the tone, before a wickedly wobbling number - 'London Is Burning feat. King Ali Baba - gets things underway. For those who love things heavy, 'Calypso' feat. Navigator and Scorpio MC is a stepping jump up number, whilst the dream duo of Chronixx and P Money lay down the fire on 'Sell My Gun'. This album is tight, fuelled by the sounds of the U.K. underground and totally unmissable.
Review: This EP has to have possibly the most ridiculous MC lineup that's ever been concocted in the UK, as a truly all-encompassing list of UK greats get's the remix treatment. The Ragga Twins, Navigator, Roots Manuva.... the list goes on. It's crazy to hear and things are made better by the quality of the remixes on offer, as Liondub and Jah Boogs roll the motley crew of vocal sounds out over a rythmically diverse beat that mutates from hip-hop tones into rolling drum & bass business. Wrongtom nails his remix, lounging the vocals out over a dub beat, whilst Daz-I-Kue gives it an afrobeat flip. Legendary stuff.
Review: Well, what more can we say about the Nice Up! team at this point? Their roster and recent catalogue have both been incredible to watch, culminating in this, the sixth edition of their 'Nice Up The Session' compilation series. The line up is outstanding as we see Gentleman's Dub Club, Seanie T, Red Eye HiFi, XL Mad, Origin One and more return to the label for a showcase of some of their most popular releases this year. Two tracks we definitely would like to point out as interesting highlights for this one have to include 'Shards', a lethal future-bashment arrangement from Casement, alongside Champion Sound's explosive jungle rework of Turn Ya Lights On from Escape Roots & Dark Angel. Awesome!
Review: There are quite a few reggae labels doing fantastic things at the moment, but the high quality levels of Nice Up! are near enough unrivalled at the moment, with this latest album release from the wonderful Escape Roots being a perfect example of that. The project as a whole is a perfect fusion of the old and new, the traditional and experimental, welcoming in a ridiculously strong list of collaborators including Tenor Youthman, Galak Spiritual, Parly B, Cian Fnin, George Palmer, Tom Spirals and more. The full track listing sees so many styles of reggae and dub music fused into one fabulous selection, with our favourites being the sneaky horn structures and colourful harmonies of 'Feel Good' alongside Skari, with the other being 'One Step At A Time', a masterclass in new school digi-dancehall featuring a top quality vocal assist from Black Warrior.
Review: Following on from a very enjoyable run of releases, we are back inside the Nice Up! basecamp for their latest offering, welcoming the wonderful Red Eye Hifi in for a very special project indeed. The 'Overproof' album is an exceptional showcase of Red Eye's versatility within the system sound, fluctuating between high energy bashment bangers such as 'Serious' alongside Berry Blacc and 'Balance It' alongside XL Mad, to the more conscious sounds of 'I'm Good', again featuring Berry Black and this time of Chunky. It's a perfect album to take you from the pre-party, to the dance, to the afters, with a particular favourite being the rawcus designs of 'Kung Fu' alongside the highly energetic flows of Lady Ice.
Review: When We Drop It gets dropped. Nice Up! dials in the XL Mad, Kunley Da Kulprit (shouts out!) and Ward21 massive for the streets' next boombox hit. Urban heaviness set in dubstep rhythms and vocal trips that switch and flip in a call response to top heavy basslines, crisp snares and the sound of UK club culture. Brap!
Review: Nice Up!'s longest standing jungle representative Origin One returns with another skank-packed breakbeat bubbler. Loaded up with powerful vocals from the legendary Spyda and long-time collaborator K.O.G, it's lives up to its name perfectly and pays tributes to UK dance music's deepest, realest roots. There's even more to pay tribute to, too... Zero T is on board with an absolute belter of a remix, all purring bassline and dubby spaciousness. Looking for a little digidub danger? Head for Sub Alpine's remix. Salute the "Tribute!".
Review: With the All Out label grooming Glasgow talent Casement for successive releases on labels like 1Forty, Deep Cover and a 2018 album for Wile Out, it's the Nice Up! label up next that delivers three dubby variations of urban and club sounds from the UK. Dubstep leads the charge in "Shards" with syncopated drums and stepped percussion submitting to stabs of huge reverberating bassline rave, with touches of baile funk nestled in behind cosmic melodies of synth in "Cables". "Night Garden" adds a solid trip of tropical weightless grime to the EP as well, and a nice left field alternative for the dancefloor or club.
Review: As a project, the team at Nice Up! have been continuing to deliver top notch releases for the whole of 2019, with this latest two track offering from Folding City being no different. This one takes an old school UKG vibe as we kick off with the shuffling, old school drum vibes and Big Apple sounding LFO structures of the title track 'Torrential', a track perfect for adding a touch of spice to garage dances around the UK. The flip for this one takes us down a more experimental UK funky direction, as we embrace the scattered percussion and tripletted drum slaps of 'Exit Stage', all sat beneath a super catchy vocal slice.
Review: What we have here is a fantastic selection and representation of the future of reggae music worldwide as the Nice Up! team unveil the fifth edition of 'Nice Up! The Session'. The release features some pretty top draw names, including the likes of Parly B, Gardna, Seanie T, Gappy Ranks and more. From the junglist flavours of Fleck's 'One Step At A Time' rethink, to the future dancehall delights of 'Bad Mi Bad' from XL Mad & Gappy Ranks, we witness the full breadth of reggae's development in 2019, with other favourites including DJ Madd's crispy rethink 'Chasing Dreams' from Rider Shafique & Precha, along with Folding City's experimental overhaul of 'My Yout' from 'Origin One & Irah'. Excellent stuff!
Review: We most certainly have a treat on our hands here as Seanie T lands on the well respected Nice Up imprint for a brand new hybrid single, combining the best of UK hip hop flavours and dubwise delights within 'Veterans'. This one's official feature title says 'UK Allstars', and we can understand why as too many names to mention join the party for an old school, toasty rally track, sitting in its own pocket of creativity.
Review: Nice Up! are at it again here as they continue their journey into the unknown, this time employing the talents of Noh Vae who arrives with three parcels of absolute weight. We kick off with the title track 'Look At U', a precisely design jukey masterpiece, with incredibly crispy drum arrangements and subtle bass tones leading the way, before the more emotive atmospherics and vocal stabs of 'Days & Days' roll into play. Finally, we take a more experimental D&B route as 'Perception' again deploys incredibly fine drum work to round this project off with some major finesse.
Review: Nottingham's finest Origin One comes correct with his debut album. And if so much as your little toe loves rootsical flavours then you need to tune in. A heady melting pot of dub, reggae, dancehall, soul, afrobeat and hip hop, all wrapped up with strong beats and features from the likes of Spyda, Irah, XL Mad, Peppery, Parly B, Gardna, Nanci Correia, double-O badman Origin One has cooked up something special. From the flabby bass of "Where You Come From" to the juiced up jungle skanks of "Tribute" via the system-melting skanks of dubstep stamper "Dread & Buried", sitting somewhere between The Bug and Dub Pistols, this is serious piece of work right here. Listen up. Nice Up.
Review: It appears that the Nice Up! Have most certainly stumbled onto a selection of gems here as they unveil one heck of a single from Preacha, who teams up with the vocal fluidity of Rider Shafique on a track entitled 'Chasing Dreams'. The two work in fantastic unison as Preacha gets busy building a spacey base camp, out of which Rider ventures forth with his unique style of poetic scripture. We are also gifted two official remixes on this one, as we firstly take a look at Casement, who reworks the track into a skippy grimey roller, before we hear DJ Madd step out with a gnarly junglist rework, stacked with scattered rhythms and bouncy sub pressure.
Review: Blind Prophet & Self Evident's burgeoning new Folding City project makes its debut on Shepdog's Nice Up! with climactic results. "What It Is" busses up sexy R&B vibes with some fantastic drum choppage as the breaks get diced and spliced to smithereens amid a whole sea of tropical tones. Dig deeper for "Knife & Fork" where a little trappist drama provides a white knuckle build into a stripped back dancehall stepper jam. Don't ask what, ask why not?
Review: Numa Crew's T-Kay returns to Nice Up! with two more energy sessions. "Bring The Bass" slaps and tickles with serious Bingo Beats 2005 era bassline funk, galvanised by some obese production chops. "Heard Somebwoy" digs a little deeper with its spacious tunnelling soundsystem primed bass drones and rolling underground feel. Two exceptional cuts with a mixdown that really bites into any mix you drop them. Okay T-Kay!
Review: Numa Crew's T-Kay makes his debut on the ever-perennial Nice Up imprint with two authentic slabs of jungle drum & bass. "Arrow" is a whirling breezy workout with its wry nod to the Goodlookin era on its pads while "The Almighty" is a modern day gully fest with a big 'ol groaning bass tone that's not dissimilar to the ones sported by the likes of Serum and Benny L. Heavy duty stuff. Nice up your life!
Review: Nice Up live up to their name with a trio of speaker-melting takes on Origin One's most recent release; the fragrant herbal homage "High Grade". First up are no-nonsense next-gen junglist Selecta J-Man and Kelvin 373 whole flip the gritty dancehall original into a turbo-charged jump-up hybrid, mysterious Manny collective Think Tonk get all wavey and stampy while Canadian operator flips things into a cosmic halftime workout where K.O.G's gritty gravel vocals really shine. Nice work.