Jubei & DBridge’s long-awaited uberdub Show Me, the first release on Jubei’s new label Carbon Music, is Ewen Cook’s record of the month for March. Kmag dives deep into a special record, in search of the essence of one of d’n’b’s finest modern craftsmen. Read Ewen’s full Essential Rotation column here.
Jubei on flames: supreme selector drops the ultimate payload
In the twisted final moments of the film Being John Malkovich, Spike Jonze’s 1999 psych-thriller masterpiece, John Cusack’s hapless lead character finds himself trapped inside the mind of a host body – forever doomed to watch the world through someone else’s eyes.
Unluckily for Cusack, that host body was not Paul Ager’s.
Aka a teak-tough grandmaster of rolling d’n’b craft.
Because frankly, we can think of few better places to be stuck for eternity than watching a supreme selector tear down dance after dance.
Jubei is that rare thing: a DJ’s DJ, revered for his crafted voyages of rolling steel tempered with just enough light and shade. And a producer’s producer, boasting a quietly glorious catalogue of jewels on vintage labels from Emcee Recordings and Scientific Wax to Razors Edge and Quarantine.
Lockdown had already been fruitful for the long-time Metalheadz lieutenant. As well as turning in some of the best studio mixes around, his new label project Carbon had grown wings, with stacks of nestling heaters ready for launch.
But the hype – and subsequent sold-out reaction – went full nuclear when it became apparent that long-adored exclusive dub Show Me would be the very first Carbon 12”.
What an entrance.
“I’d be lying if I said I thought it was gonna do that well, how quickly it sold out,” Jubei tells Kmag, as he rushes around trying to get the masters off for Carbon 002. (We already asked – it’s top secret). “I’ve never had that sort of attention for a tune – it’s been an overwhelming response.”
Let’s cut right to it: this is a certified monster tune, with few equals so far in 2021. Show Me is true-to-the-craft, Midas-touch, five-star-deluxe rolling gold – to borrow several signature phrases from Jubei’s original partner in crime, SP:MC. A deadly simple yet fiendishly well-constructed groove, and an equally effortless DJ weapon. Enough bounce for 11pm, enough heft for 3am and enough magic for that final lights-on shuffle.
I’d be lying if I said I thought it was gonna do that well, how quickly it sold out”
Anywhere you look, it’s a Rolls Royce. The faintly warm echo on that timeless opening snare that signals this is going to be the correct side of slick. That colossal two-note bassline which channels the spirit of Peace Love and Unity and conjures scenes of rugged warehouse adventures decades back. The way those midrange growls hold off, only occasionally baring teeth in the deep as the subs flex. That ice-cold vocal which mentasms its way across the stereo field, morphing at the edges. Those shimmering Eastern synth whispers that slant down expertly, throwing colour into the rolling dark…
Best of all, even despite its layers of delicious control, this sound is raw. That messy, additional, slapping snare that occasionally overlaps, recalling a Dillinja tune clacking into the mix, is a lovely touch – a reminder that this mission is unvarnished, earnest, exploratory. The way it should be.
And, like many of the best dubplate sensations down the years, this one simmered for years, rather than months – and almost never saw the light of day.
“It’s got to be at least five years ago, when me and Darren [DBridge] both lived in Hitchin, and I showed it to him, but then it disappeared into some lost folder – until I found it by chance and went to work on it again a long time later. It was only Darren and me playing it, then Ash Skeptical asked for a copy, then Breakage, then Shy – and then when Shy started playing it, it started to really gain momentum. It was perfect timing in a way, because that all built up just before Covid – in a way that wouldn’t have been possible now.”
It’s also a tune that symbolises everything good about a Jubei set. The track’s perfectly engineered contours seem to sum up his entire rolling style: nothing rushed, no gimmicks, just straight rolling texture from the top drawer.
Check the blend with another classic (and go-to Jubei weapon), Ed Rush & Optical’s Medicine (Matrix remix), which starts snaking into the frame after only a few minutes of his majestic recent guest mix for DNBA, and you’ll get the idea. Peak Jubei – as DJ and producer – right there.
To be this accomplished takes graft. In the twenty years since those pre-fame days of TDKs and bedroom rollouts with SP, Jubei has grown in stature into a truly A-list craftsman at the controls – a development as smooth and steady as his mixing itself.
You can hear all the formative magic of Randall in those long, patiently crafted blends. Fader central, steely control, two weighty juggernauts arcing off together in that mysterious, creative embrace we love so much. And in that selection, glorious shades of Marcus. The kind of 3-4am Marcus set where he barely lets up from rolling slabs of technoid funk. That good.
I’ve never had that sort of attention for a tune – it’s been an overwhelming response.”
Would Jubei agree? “Yeah I’d also say those two,” he nods. “But if I had to pick one other person who has been a massive influence on my style when I was younger, it’d be Fierce. It was the tone of music that he played, the way he maintained a certain energy. The mixing was amazing, selection was cold, but it was a physical thing too, the way he moved, the way he controlled the mixer.”
And the other key element? Techno.
“When I learned to mix, it was from Detroit techno – the likes of Dave Angel, Laurent Garnier – so I learned how to mix like that, with long, energetic mixes.”
Quality over quantity
Echoing Doc Scott’s mantra, Jubei would say he’s a DJ first, producer second. It just happens to be that he’s impossibly sick at both.
“Some people have to keep putting music out to keep their diary full. But I was lucky in that I would get bookings for my DJing alone. So I’ve never felt forced to keep up like that. If I had to pick between production and mixing, I’d pick DJing – that’s what I do best.”
Happily for Jubei, his talents on the boards meant his DJing ambitions and preferred style of production ignited together – and all at his own pace. “I remember the first Quarantine album, thinking ‘I want to be on that sound’. For me, the reason those Quarantine tunes stand up today is that rolling style – the same as the way I like to DJ. It’s very in the middle, it doesn’t shift left or right or follow fads – so it doesn’t date.”
Some people have to keep putting music out to keep their diary full. But I was lucky in that I would get bookings for my DJing alone.”
Soon enough, Quarantine came calling – along with Headz and the rest. Yet despite that eye-watering back catalogue of brooding, rugged releases, it’s quality not quantity we most associate with Jubei when it comes to producing.
His studio forays, from 2013’s cinematic grime-up The Moment feat Flowdan – the teaser for the impeccable To Have & Have Not LP (Metalheadz) – or 2019’s Detroit-swirled Cold Heart/Little Dubplate (Exit), are invariably picked up by Headz or top-tier labels because of their sheer class.
And yet, because it’s almost always this good… we remain a little hungry.
Enter Show Me. And Carbon.
Fans of Jubei’s production can get ready to bask in the good stuff, as Carbon begins to unleash the goods over the next few months. “I’ll be doing things sporadically elsewhere, and still have my Metalheadz commitment – I’m giving them a 12” soon for example. But Carbon is going to be my main focus.
“I always said that starting my own label was a move I was never gonna make unless I had plenty in the chamber. And we’ve got a lot lined up for this next wave. The majority will be collaborative but also some solo bits too. It’s all in the pot ready to go.”
The craft of Randall in his simmering mixes. The creative technoid spark of Marcus in his music. And for us, in a league of his own when it comes to consistent pinpoint selection and blends. When it comes to Jubei, if you know, you really know.
So if we were forced to watch just one DJ roll it out for the next millennium? No contest.