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Can't make it to Notting Hill? That's no reason to miss out on the party of the year

It's Carnival time! And while that means a heaving party on the streets of west London, it's also a boom time (pun intended) for music, with rival sound systems digging out the most explosive new tracks to try and beat their rivals into submission. 1Xtra will naturally be at the heart of the action, and that means you can be too, from the comfort of your own home.

It's all in the mix

While many of the biggest, baddest tunes of the weekend will be kept under wraps, it's not all about breaking new ground. According to Time Out, lots of recent grime and reggae hits by Fetty Wap, OMI, Chronixx and Lethal Bizzle will be blasting out. And it's hardly going to be Carnival without a decent helping of soca, calypso and blues, so keep your playlist varied. Check out V Rocket's Carnival mix (around two hours into Mistajam's show) for further clues.

It's all about that bass, about that bass (no treble)...

Whatever you're playing the music on, it's probably not big enough and you'll still need to crank up the bass. If you wish to recreate the true battling spirit of the Carnival sound systems - from 4Play to Saxon Sound - what you'll need is a stack of sub-woofers the size of a caravan, and a rival to aim them at. 1Xtra have been investigating the history of these intense musical rivalries for a special documentary.

...and dropping the hottest tunes and biggest beats

While you're likely to hear a huge range of different types of music across the weekend, it's those special moments, song drops and guest appearances when things really kick off. Shy FX's Party on the Moon stage, for example is playing host to performances from Rudimental, Skrillex, Craig David, Professor Green, Sean Paul, Ms. Dynamite and Sigma. And 1Xtra's MistaJam is there to see it all happen.

Anything can happen

The history of Carnival is one of dressing up in extravagant costumes and poking the constrictions of everyday society in the eye. It comes from an annual need to purge the stresses and strains of life - many of the early carnival costumes were created to lampoon some of the racial tensions the Caribbean communities had to deal with on a daily basis - and dance your cares away.

This BBC News clip from 1983 shows some of the intense effort that has gone into Carnival costumes over the years (although there are far fewer derelict houses in Notting Hill nowadays).

The point is, at Carnival time everyone is fair game, even Charlie Sloth.

There's always room for a little steelpan

For many people, the sound of the steelpan is the sound of the Caribbean, a sound that carries with it both the association of heat and sunshine, but also memories of a community celebrating together over Carnivals of the past.

Which is why this 1Xtra spoken word session from Debris and Lady Leshurr (and this one from James Massiah, Saju Ahmed, and Nick Brewer) works so well, combining their dual memories of growing up with this rippling noise mixed with the sound itself.

There's a brief history of steelpan in this clip, and if you're wondering what tune they're playing under Debris and Lady Leshurr, it's Dawn Penn's evergreen reggae hit No No No.

It's a time to get the family together

While other festivals are all about youth running wild far from the civlising influence of their parents, Carnival actively seeks to bring together young and old, as this clip from Ace and Vis's visit to Notting Hill in 2011 serves to prove.

At around the 1.49 mark, Ms. Dynamite reminisces about her formative experiences at Carnival, including her brother Akala's over-the-knee socks and suggestive dancing to Crazy's soca classic Nani Wine back in the day, much to Akala's discomfort. It's a family affair.

Oh and if you are planning something rowdy and wild at home, don't forget to tidy up when you're done...

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