Our favourite classic Notting Hill Carnival mixes

By in Features





From reggae, dub and rock steady to hip-hop, garage and house.

Featuring the sound of Saxon’s ’80s heyday to classic sets from Norman Jay, Josey Rebelle and The Heatwave, we’ve selected seven of our favourite Carnival mixes, new and old, to help soundtrack your weekend.

Aba Shanti-I Sound System
Live at Notting Hill Carnival, circa 1991

Londoner Aba Shanti-I has grown up surrounded by sound system culture from day dot – during the 1960s his father ran a system called Count Alan. He first made his Carnival debut as part of the Jah Tubby sound system under the name Jasmine Joe, before launching his iconic Aba Shanti-I sound system at Notting Hill Carnival in 1993. This live mix, circa 1991, was recorded from an industrious fan’s tape, decades after discovering it at Dougie (Conscious Sounds) Wardrop’s Dub Shack stall in Camden Lock.

Josey Rebelle
Rinse FM Carnival special, August 2013

Rinse FM favourite Josey Rebelle’s 2013 carnival special is 3-hour tour across Caribbean music history, from classic ska faves Desmond Dekker, and Harry J Allstars, to a broad sweep of calypso, soca and zouk. Drop into Josey’s 2015 live mix for a heavier selection, going deep into jungle territory here.

Norman Jay
Carnival Essential Mix, 1995

A fixture in the London scene since the 1960s, Notting Hill local Norman Jay played his first DJ set when he was just 8 years old at a friend’s birthday party. In the late ’70s Jay set-up his own Notting Hill Carnival sound system called Great Tribulation. Two years later it became the Good Times Sound System, running at the event for an impressive 30 years. As such, it was only fitting for Jay to deliver a special Carnival essential mix in 1994. Moving through house, soul, breakbeat and beyond, the set proved so popular he returned for a second instalment, our favourite of the two, in 1995: a perfect encapsulation of the London get down sound.

Carnival Bashment special, August 2012

UK sound system The Heatwave has been mixing London and Jamaican dancehall sounds for the past decade. Any of Heatwave’s annual Carnival special mixes could have made this list, but this bashment instalment from 2012 is a serious highlight, still wining through regular repeats. Check out The Heatwave’s favourite dancehall specialist 7″s here.

Saxon Studio International
Live at Notting Hill Carnival, 1985

A scratchy recording it maybe, but as one of the UK’s fundamental sound system operators Saxon more than deserve a spot in this list. Founded in 1976, Saxon came became known in the ‘80s for the “fast chat” style of DJ Peter King, which you can hear in full flow in this set from 1985.

Tim Westwood
Live at Notting Hill Carnival, August 1996

It’s strictly anthems (think GZA’s ‘Liquid Swords’, Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’) on this carnival selection from Tim Westwood back in 1996, which also featured a live performance from Heltah Skeltah.