Ninja Tune are celebrating this year; twenty years ago Jon Moore and Matt Black (Coldcut) decided to create a label that wasn’t influenced by trends, fashion or selling millions of records. Instead they wanted people to hear cutting edge, eclectic and fresh new music. Artists that were actually good at what they do being given the opportunity to get their music heard with none of the hidden extras that come from major labels. Ninja Tune was born, and now they want to celebrate turning twenty in style. Along with many other events and a hefty Ninja Tune XX box set being released one of their most prized artists, King Cannibal, decided to celebrate by making a ‘mix tape’, a bit of a retrospective but with over 250 tracks used in just over an hour…
The album is split into twenty tracks, all representing a different side to the label such as ‘Big Tunes. Big Hits’, ‘How About Some Rock & Roll’ and ‘King Of The Junglism’. Prefaced by an introduction that states “The purpose of this little demonstration is to give an idea of everything you always wanted to know about Ninja Tune” this is exactly what you’re going to hear over the next hour or so. Everything from the big releases such as Roots Manuva ‘Witness’ and The Cinematic Orchetra ‘All That You Give’ to lesser known artists such as Amon Tobin, The Qemists and of course the founders of the label, Coldcut. It is a journey that twists and turns, keeping you on your toes and never stopping for a breather. It is seamlessly mixed together, both as an album and within each individual track, occasionally surprising you with the use of samples that you will recognise but maybe not know where from. I have got a few bits and pieces from the label over the years, but nowhere near enough to be able to say that I’m an expert in all things Ninja Tune, however I was impressed with how many of the samples I recognised just from my everyday music listening.
I think it would be fair to say that King Cannibal has done an excellent job with ‘The Way Of The Ninja’; both its concept and execution are a great way to celebrate twenty years of Ninja Tune in 70 minutes. It will leave you heading straight to the website to try and find out where some of the samples came from, and consequently will no doubt increase any Ninja Tune fans record collection and get any newcomers off to a good start. 10/10