The MC is the Marmite of Drum & Bass culture. Revered by some and hated by others, this argument has been going on for as long as the music has and we're not going to get into it here.
One thing you may have noticed though, is the recent predominance of MC led tracks particularly in the more 'minimal' techstep influenced side of Drum & Bass. Granted, these tracks have always been around over the years. A little hook here, a sampled phrase there and even full vocal tracks. Just dig out Reprazent's classic Brown Paper Bag or Technical Itch's Soldiers with Jakes' menacing vocals driving the tune forward.
Something's different this time round though. Last year you could seldom go out to a bass oriented night without hearing Strategy's indecipherable lyrics on Dub Phizix & Skeptical's smash, Marka. Now everyone's doing it. And it's bloody good.
So why now?
A few corners of the scene have been raising concerns that modern day techstep is "too minimal" and samey. This is perhaps a reaction to such complaints, a compromise as it were; the track retains its essence whilst at the same time filled out with the addition of a few bars of vocals.
Simultaneously serving to keep the mind engaged, fans who quickly tire of droney bass and sparse soundscapes may find their appetites for that something more satiated. This also lends itself well to the ever more popular ethos of tracks standing up to home listening as well as working on the dancefloor.
What about commercial viability?
Is Drum & Bass moving into a new era of mainstream acceptance? This is a question for another time but it can certainly be argued that electronic music and DJ culture has exploded into mainstream media of late. The UK even had a Drum & Bass single chart at number one recently. Coupled with a whole host of tunes making it onto daytime radio playlists, the future is looking pretty bright.
This is all very exciting but it has to be said: no one starts making Drum & Bass to get famous and make a big pile of cash.
As much as it sounds like a cop out, it seems more likely that simply the right minds are around at the right time.
This is simply another step in the ever evolving experiments of its pioneers, let's enjoy it!