Drum and bass
We helped define what makes the genre so special, as well as explained its long and fruitful history, and how to make your own, in our guide; now it is time to hone in on those artists who have helped it become so successful. Without these maestros, it is unlikely it would have achieved the popularity it enjoys today. From those at the very beginning to artists enjoying the peak of their success today, we have the full lowdown on everyone you should be aware of. From Goldie to High Contrast, DJ Hype to Chase & Status, our list of the 15 biggest drum and bass artists of all time is the definitive guide to the DJs that have made it so special. Whether you are new to drum and bass, or you want to add more artists to your playlists, this list is the perfect place to start! Read on now for everything that you need to know. If you think that we have missed anyone, please sound off in the comments below with your suggestions!
Top 15 | Best Drum and Bass Music Artists
Goldie is one of the pioneers of the genre, helping to define what we mean when we talk about genres such as UK jungle, drum and bass and breakbeat hardcore. Co-founder of the label Metalheadz, which has helped put out artists such as Artificial Intelligence, Codename John and Lenzmann, Goldie is often referred to as the godfather of drum and bass. His debut album, Timeless, released in 1995, was seen as a groundbreaking work of art in the development of the genre, reaching number 7 in the UK charts. To get an idea of the complexity of his sound, we recommend listening to his iconic FabricLive.58 mix. Goldie is so popular in British culture that he has appeared in Bond movies, Celebrity Come Dine With Me and even been appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen herself.
2. High Contrast
Welsh DJ High Contrast is one of the first names that comes to mind when someone mentions drum and bass. He burst onto the scene with his iconic residency at Cardiff’s only drum and bass night, entitled Silent Running, where he played alongside Grooverider and London Elektricity. With his debut album, entitled High Contrast, he achieved wider fame, leading to an Essential Mix on BBC Radio 1 in 2003. He is best known for his innovative remixes, tackling tracks by artists as diverse as Kanye West (“Flashing Lights“), The Streets (“It’s Too Late“) and Coldplay (“Talk“). In 2012 he contributed to the soundtrack to the era-defining Isles of Wonder, which accompanied the opening to the London Summer Olympics.
3. Chase & Status
One of the most successful duos in drum and bass history, Chase & Status, comprised of Saul Milton and Will Kennard, are best known for their collaborations with major artists. These remixes and productions include work with Plan B, Rihanna, CeeLo Green, Tinie Tempah
4. Andy C
Andy C is one of the most vital names in drum and bass history, helping to define its sound in the 90s with the release of his track “Valley of The Shadows“. Since then he has become one of the most bookable names in the genre. He is perhaps best known for his 2001 track “Body Rock“, created in conjunction with Shimon, which reached number 28 in the UK Charts. He won the Best DJ award at the 2011 Drum and Bass Arena Awards. In the same year, Mixmag UK ranked him number four on the list of greatest DJs of all time, making him the most popular of all British DJs. This year he sold out Wembley Arena in just three days – something no other drum and bass artist has ever done.
5. Sub Focus
English DJ Sub Focus has been on the scene since 2003. Influenced by The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers, his first successful single was “Scarecrow“ – which catapulted him to the top of the UK dance charts. His debut album, Sub Focus, was a massive hit, blending drum and bass with electro, house, breakbeat and even trance music – showing off just how versatile he is as an artist. An avid remixer, he has rejigged tracks by artists as diverse as The Prodigy, DJ Fresh, Switch, Empire of the Sun, Dizzee Rascal and Major Lazer. A regular tourer, he can be found playing in clubs such as Ministry of Sound and In
Blending drum and bass expertise with stadium rock, progressive rock and heavy metal, Pendulum, hailing from Perth, Australia, are easily one of the biggest drum and bass groups of all time. Their debut album Hold Your Colour is considered a landmark of the genre, including genre-defining hits such as “Slam“, “Tarantula“ and “Fasten your Seatbelts“. Known for combining drum and bass with live instrumentation, their sets have to be seen to be believed.
7. DJ Hype
DJ Hype is one of the original founders of the drum and bass movement. He started as a DJ on pirate radio, including Fantasy FM and Jeb FM. He formed the Ganja Records label in the 90s, which included classic cuts such as “You Must Think First“ and “Tiger Style“. To get a classic idea for his sound, we recommend listening to his FabricLive.03 mix, which is considered one of the best drum and bass mixes in the genre. You can usually find him playing at fabric, especially at their regular Playaz night.
Belgian born producer Netsky, named after the computer virus of the same name, is known for his liquid funk style – which combines drum and bass music with deep instrumentation and many vocal layers. He is known for his collaborations, having worked with artists as varied as David Guetta, A. Chai, Beth Ditto and Macklemore, and his remixes, including Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t“, Skream’s “Anticipate“ and Jessie J’s “Nobody’s Perfect“. Understanding the live potential of drum and bass music, his Netsky Live project sees him accompanied by a team of live musicians – really taking the genre to the next level!
9. Shy FX
Shy FX is considered one of the key godfathers of the drum and bass sound, bursting onto the scene in 1992 with the aptly named “Jungle Love“. He was one of the first to notice the potential of combining drum and bass with rasta sounds. He broke through into the mainstream in 2001with the track “Shake Ur Body“, which reached no.7 in the UK charts. Since then he has collaborated with artists such as Dizzee Rascal, Wiley and Plan B – making him a key originator of grime music in the 00s. He’s also well known for his Digital Soundboy label, which was an essential part of the dubstep genre’s evolution.
10. Ed Rush
The stage name of UK musician Ben Settle, Ed Rush has helped to pioneer drum and bass subgenres such as techstep, darkcore and Neurofunk. Often working alongside Optical, he is known for his dark and uncompromising music. He honed his sound playing on the London pirate radio station Don FM. To get a full idea of his sound, we would recommend his very heavy FabricLive.82 mix, released in 2015. Additionally, the album Wormhole, that he released in 1998 alongside Optical, is considered to be one of the best drum and bass albums of all time.
Dutch electronic trio Noisia – comprised of DJs Nik Roos, Martijn van Sonderen and Thijs de Vlieger – are renowned for the pinpoint precision of their electronic productions. Formed in Groningen, Holland, they released their debut single “Tomahawk“ on Paul Reset’s Nerve Recordings label. They achieved mainstream success with Tasha Baxter’s Colour Of Me, which they produced, and their iconic FabricLive.40 mix which featured many of their own tracks. They also helped pioneer the Nu Rave scene when they produced Hadouken!’s second album For The Masses.
12. LTJ Bukem
When it comes to jazzy and atmospheric drum and bass, LTJ Bukem is your man. The classically trained pianist started out in a jazz-funk band before making the switch to DJing in the late 80s. His early tracks include “Logical Progression“, “Demon’s Theme“, “Atlantis“ and “Music“. In the 90s he achieved acclaim for his classic track “Horizons“ before running the London club night Speed in the 90s and developing his label Good Looking Records – which put out spacey and intelligent drum and bass records by artists such as Photek, Blu Mar Ten, Seba and Source Direct.
13. Roni Size
Bristol-born DJ Roni Size first got interested in electronic music from attending house parties by The Wild Bunch – the predecessors to Massive Attack. He is acclaimed for starting his drum and bass group named Reprazent, notable for their melding of jungle beats with live drums and double bass. On their tracks, they have rocked with artists such as Method Man, Rahzel and Rage Against The Machine. He also is the founder of the record label WTP, short for “Where’s the Party At?”
14. London Elektricity
London Elektricity, the alias of Tony Colman, is one of the original legendary drum and bass producers. His debut album, Pull the Plug, which he self-released on his own record label, Hospital Records, was released in 1999. It was critically acclaimed for its blend of live instruments such as double bass and electric guitar with conventional drum and bass elements. The Hospital Record label is one of the most important in the genre’s evolution, putting out records by artists such as Nu:Tone, Metric, Fred V & Grafix and Danny Byrd.
15. DJ Marky
Drum and bass artist DJ Marky is considered one of the most important to come out of Brazil. Along with fellow countrymen DJ Patife, XRS Land and Drumagick, he helped to pioneer the Brazilian drum and bass sound. He broke through in London in the late 90s with a residency at Movement club. From there he worked for BBC Radio 1, was awarded best new DJ by a collection of the UK’s music critics in 1999, played an Essential Mix in 2004 and headlined Lovebox Festival in 2006. He is best known in popular culture for being on the soundtrack to the video game Fifa Street 2.
The Best Places to Listen To Drum and Bass:
We hope you have enjoyed our guide to the greatest drum and bass artists of all time. We have tried to be inclusive here and feature artists from all over the world. We hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. It is a very diverse genre so it is worth trying to listen to all its different facets in order to get a real idea of its sound. If you are looking for a place to listen to these artists, we would recommend checking out the fabric mixes that we mentioned in the guide, as they do provide a proper overview to each artist’s sound. You can also search for them on Spotify. If you have decided that drum and bass isn’t the genre for you, then why don’t you read our curated guides to the best techno and trance DJs instead?
Redmond Bacon is a film obsessive and amateur music producer who can easily spend all day either at the cinema or making fresh beats. Catch his writing over at redmondbacon.co.uk.