Oldschool jungle

Stylistic origins Breakbeat hardcore, funk, hip hop, reggae, dub, dancehall
Cultural origins Early 1990s, Bristol and London, United Kingdom
Typical instruments Synthesizer - Drum machine - Sequencer - Sampler
Mainstream popularity Low
Derivative forms Drum and bass
Ragga jungle - Darkcore - Intelligent jungle - Jazzstep
(complete list)

Jungle is a genre of electronic music that incorporates influences from genres including breakbeat hardcore, and reggae/dub/dancehall[citation needed]. There is debate as to whether jungle is a separate genre from drum and bass as many use the terms interchangeably. For those that consider them separate genres, drum and bass is usually considered to have started to separate musically from jungle in the mid to late 1990s.



Subgenres of jungle include:

  • Darkcore; instrumental jungle with a dark and more minimal focus (1993-today),
  • Hardcore Jungle; a subgenre which has a large influence from the early 1990s Rave scene. Typically, melodic stabs and pitched up vocals feature heavily (1993–1995).
  • Intelligent jungle; a more ambient sound, focusing on mood, synthesis and production methods (1993-today).
  • Ragga Jungle; more Jamaican-Reggae influenced styles and lyrics (circa 1990-today), which often features an MC who recites dancehall-style lyrics

The fast tempos (150 to 170 bpm)[1] breakbeats, other heavily syncopated percussive loops, samples and synthesized effects makes up the easily recognizable form of jungle. Producers create the drum patterns featured; sometimes completely off-beat, by cutting apart breakbeats most notably the Amen break. Long, computer generated pitch shifted snare rolls are also common in oldschool jungle.

Jungle producers incorporated classic Jamaican/Caribbean sound-system culture production-methods. The slower, deep basslines and simple melodies (which are directly descended from dub, reggae and dancehall) accentuated the overall production and hence gave jungle its 'rolling' quality.


The term Jungle

While the use of the word to describe what is now known as jungle is debatable, the emergence of the term in relation to electronic music circles can be roughly traced to lyrics used in Jamaican toasting (a pre-cursor to modern MCs), circa 1970. References to 'jungle', 'junglists' and 'jungle music' can be found throughout dub, reggae and dancehall genres from that era up until today.

Interestingly, and possibly just coincidentally, the term "jungle music" was used to describe music by Duke Ellington in the 1920-30's. With African musical and drumming influences they played a rhythmic, exotic sound advertised as "jungle music" and "the jungle sound", the band at that time was often named The Jungle Band on flyers.[2]

It has been suggested that the term 'Junglist' was a reference to a person either from a ghetto of Kingston known as 'The Concrete Jungle' or from a different suburb, 'The Gardens', which was a leafy area colloquially referred to as 'The Jungle'.

The first documented use of the term is within a song featuring jungle producer and lyricist Rebel MC. In which a sample was taken from a much older dancehall tune containing the lyrics "Rebel got this chant - "'alla the junglists".[3]

Smiley & PJ from Shut Up and Dance were once not let into a club by a bouncer claiming "We don't play your jungle music here", referring to the more drum oriented oldskool hardcore. They started to use the term themselves.

At one time there was even some confusion and debate as to whether the use of the word "jungle" was a racist referral to its apparently blacker, reggae-influenced sound and fans as it was the black youth of Britain who fueled the early Jungle and drum and bass scenes.[3]

Jungle shares a number of similarities with hip hop. First, both genres have been referred to as "black music."[citation needed] When jungle first gained popularity, it received many of the same complaints that hip hop music first did: It was "too dark" and downbeat, glorified violence and gangs and had a focus on rhythm.[citation needed] Both genres of music are produced using the same types of equipment: samplers, drum machines, microphones and sequencers. Furthermore, the music contains the same sort of components such as "rhythmic complexity, repetition with subtle variations, the significance of the drum, melodic interest in bass frequencies and breaks in pitch and time."[4] [5]

Some early proponents[who?] preferred to define the "jungle" element as representing the deeper and darker sound of the heavy beats and bass lines, while others saw a connection with tribal drumming, percussion and simplicity.

Producers and DJs of the early 90's MC 5ive '0, Groove Connection and Kingsley Roast, place the origin of the word in the scene with pioneers like Moose, Soundman and Johnny Jungle.

"a guy called Johnny Jungle - he is the first person I always quote. ... As soon as the breakbeat started he was calling it that."[6]

The emergence of the jungle sound

In the summer of 1992, a Thursday night club in London called "Rage" was changing in response to the commercialization of the rave scene (see breakbeat hardcore). Resident DJs Fabio and Grooverider; amongst others, began to take the Hardcore sound to a new level. The speed of the music increased from 120bpm to 145bpm, whilst more ragga and dancehall elements were brought in and techno, disco and house influences were decreased.

Eventually the music became too fast and difficult to be mixed with more traditional rave music, creating a division with the other popular electronic genres. When Hardcore lost the four-on-the-floor beat, and created percussive elements solely from raw, 'chopped up' breakbeats, the terms jungle, junglist or junglism started being used to describe the music. This was reflected in track titles of the era, typically from late 1992 and early 1993.

The club 'Rage' finally shut its doors in 1993, but the new legion of "Junglists" had evolved, changing dancing styles for the faster music, enjoying the off-beat rhythms and with less reliance on the chemical stimulation of the rave era.


Shortly after midnight on New Years Day, 1994, MC Conrad referred to the style of music LTJ Bukem was playing as both "hardcore" and "drum and bass", but neglected to describe it as jungle.

Jungle reached the peak of its popularity between 1994 and 1995, when at this stage the genre was spawning a number of UK Top 40 hits and a series of jungle compilations. It was toward the end of this period that the genre began to more commonly became known as drum and bass, as most producers started to incorporate new sounds and rhythms into their music.


1996 and 1997 saw a less ragga influenced sound and a darker, grittier and more sinister soundscape. Hip hop and jazz influenced tracks dominated the clubs in this period. Dillinja, Roni Size, Die, Hype, Zinc and Krust were instrumental in the transition of the jungle sound to drum and bass. By the end of 1998 the genre's sound had changed forms significantly from that heard earlier in the decade.

Jungle today

Today the term "jungle" is mostly used as a synonym for drum and bass (See Drum_and_bass#Differences_between_drum_and_bass_and_jungle). There is a dissenting viewpoint which asserts that jungle exists distinctive to drum and bass, despite the progressive changes brought by the interpretations of emerging artists throughout the late 90s, (some examples being Reprazent, Ed Rush, LTJ Bukem, Potential Bad Boy, Digital, Total Science, Goldie and Optical).

There is certainly a thriving underground movement producing and developing tracks in the style of a decade ago and some original (though currently mainstream drum & bass) jungle producers have noticed this new enthusiasm for the original sound. The North American ragga-jungle revival in 2001 saw many new names emerge to carry the torch. Krinjah, RCola and Chopstick Dubplate pushed things forward with junglized remixes of classic reggae tunes often produced with re-voicing done by the original singers.

In the United Kingdom the jungle scene, though underground, is still thriving with club nights specifically tributed to the oldschool jungle sound as well as more modern Drum and Bass. Many famous DJs from the original scene, such as Ray Keith, Remarc, Kenny Ken and Doc Scott, just to name a few, are still touring the United Kingdom and the USA to perform live; strictly playing oldschool jungle circa 1993-1997.

Shy FX, creator of "Original Nuttah" with UK Apache, has recently launched the Digital Sound Boy label, and Canadian imprint JungleXpeditions features songs with the structure and production values of modern drum & bass but with ragga vocals and multiple reggae and oldskool elements from an international roster of newschool producers. Ragga vocals and oldskool elements have always featured in the works of drum & bass producers and labels, particularly True Playaz and the last three years has seen a resurgence of vocalized productions.

There has also been an eastern European, jungle oriented, underground movement with clothing fashions similar to the UK's 90s Rave scene. Most notably countries such as Bulgaria are beginning an oldskool jungle revival.

Notable artists


  1. ^ Noys, Benjamin. Into the Jungle,Popular Music, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Oct., 1995), pp. 321
  2. ^ See The History of Jazz Music by Piero Scaruffi
  3. ^ a b >Reynolds, Simon (1998). "Roots 'n Future". Energy Flash. Picador. ISBN 0-330-35056-0. 
  4. ^ >Mitchell, Tony (2002). Global Noise. Wesleyan University Press. 
  5. ^ >Sewell, Tony (1997). Black Masculinities and Schooling: How Black Boys Survive Modern Schooling. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books.. 
  6. ^ See All Crews: Journeys Through Jungle / Drum and Bass Culture by Brian Belle-Fortune ISBN 0-9548897-0-3

External links


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