“Jungle is massive!” is blared through the sub of Ali G’s yellow renault 5gt turbo as M Beat and General Levy’s “Incredible”, and the genre of jungle, is thrown in perpetual cliche. When people think ‘jungle’ their minds leap to ragga jungle with its influences with UK ‘bad boy’ culture. But jungle music has become a genre which has matured and progressed to form the fresh sound of future jungle.
Jungle emerged out of the nightclub legacy of rave music of the late 80’s and early 90’s. The jungle scene fused high tempo break beats with samples from Jamaican influences of reggae, dancehall and dub. By the mid 90’s jungle had become a recognisable part of British youth culture. DJ’s like Rebel MC (Congo Natty) Goldie and Shy FX emerged and thrived, and remain some of the scenes biggest players today. Yet jungle inherited the association with violence and crime from the UK hip-hop from which it. It is this image that Ali G made popular. DJ’s shied away from ragga influences in the jungle scene, and their music began to assimilate with drum and bass. Without ragga influence there is little to divide jungle and drum and bass.
Jungle today has a small but dedicated following. Its ‘old school’ label has seen it gain renewed popularity and it has returned very much to its roots. Some of the best Jungle tracks released in the last year are very ‘old school’ such as ‘Billy Daniel Bunter & Saxion – Jump Around’. But the most interesting music the jungle scene is producing is within the recent movement of Future Junglists. The vibe is more chilled and with the BPM down to 140 at times. There have been a number of new imprints that have really shone in the FJ scene. Bad Habit Muzik have released a host of good tracks – Amiga Junglism’s “Hold On” is a personal favourite, blending classic Ragga with a progressive back beat. Boomsha Recordings last week released “Flying High” by Bay B Kane. It is a massive tune, holding you in house-like a mid-rave suspense of Jungle breakbeat for three minutes before merging into a liquid bassline. Digital Acetate’s back catalogue is also worth checking out.
Jungle music nights held regularly across the country. Mint in Leeds holds a regular ‘Jungle Jam’ on the first Friday of every month, where they attract big all of the biggest names such as Congo Natty, Kenny Kenn and Dillinja. What needs to happen now is for these big ‘old school’ producers to take the plunge and include this FJ vibe in their events to in order to get it to the masses.
As for York’s jungle scene, last year Benny Page, one of Jungle’s most respected DJs played to an audience of 2000 in Leeds. The next night, he came to York and played to an audience of 20, in an agricultural college. ‘Nuff said.