United Nation: Three Decades of Drum and Bass (Film Review)

Published 20th February 2020

'United Nation: Three Decades of Drum and Bass' is the new feature-length documentary film from One Nation founder Terry Stone and Richard Turner.

The film documents the rise of drum and bass by tracing right back to the illegal warehouse parties of the early acid house era via the hardcore and jungle explosion of the nineties.

As you'd expect, the documentary touches on all the cornerstones of the early rave story - M25 parties, the Criminal Justice Act, Leah Betts - but where 'United Nation' differs from previous attempts to document the scene is in it's extensive use of original archive footage. This raw and often previously-unseen footage is backed up with interviews and talking heads with some of the biggest names in the scene.

Having started out flyering before moving into promotion (via a brief stint as an MC - much to the amusement of Phantasy and Hype!) Terry Stone has been involved with the scene from the very beginning, and he's really called in a few favours for this film. Fabio, Grooverider, Sigma, DJ Hype, Adam F, SaSaSaS, DJ Rap, Jumping Jack Frost, Nicky Blackmarket, Ray Keith, Brockie & Det, DJ Fresh and Andy C all step up provide an insight into the machinations of the early scene and their thoughts on it's rise from sub-culture to commercial success.

The documentary delivers for fans of the genre and it's fascinating to hear how a founding figure like Fabio used to lie about being a jungle DJ, or Skibadee paying homage to the pioneers that laid the foundations for MC culture. Special mention should also go to Adam F who scored the film with original music that captures the many facets of the genre.



"I used to lie and tell people I played house because it was so taboo, and you know that when you spoke to the normal man on the street and said you were into drum and bass they'd look at you like 'what?!'"


We're viewing the world through Terry Stone's lens and as you'd expect there is a focus on the inception and phenomenal success of the One Nation parties; this is the story of drum and bass and One Nation intertwined - as it should be. The One Nation parties were renowned for great atmosphere and excellent production values but that's not to say that what the punters witnessed always mirrored what went on behind the scenes. Where there's money there will always be gangs and the film doesn't shy away from the harsh reality of the drugs and gang culture that plagued the scene - at one point Stone describes those early years as being akin to "the wild west".

That said, the documentary manages to balance the gritty, harsh realities of a period in time when ecstasy gave way to crack, and gun culture crept in, with the over-riding positivity of a scene that helped unite people and break down racial divides.

The documentary concludes optimistically by looking at the how the genre has crept into the mainstream and continues to evolve and inspire new artists. There's a clear arc to the story and you're left feeling positive for the future of a scene that has evolved, and will continue to evolve, and means so much to so many.

'United Nation: Three Decades of Drum and Bass' comes highly recommended whether you're already immersed in DnB culture or want to learn more about an often misunderstood genre.



'United Nation: Three Decades of Drum and Bass' is available from 21st February in cinemas and on all digital platforms and Sky Box Office



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