Jungle music  

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Oldschool jungle, or just simply jungle, is a genre of electronic music that incorporates influences from other genres, including breakbeat hardcore and reggae/dub/dancehall. It is one of several types of music often simply referred to as "jungle music". The fast tempos (150 to 170 bpm), breakbeats and other heavily syncopated percussive loops, samples and synthesized effects make up the easily recognizable form of jungle. Long pitch-shifted snare rolls are common in oldschool jungle.

The terms "jungle" and "drum and bass" are often used interchangeably, although whether the two genres are actually distinct is an ongoing topic of debate. For those individuals who consider the two genres as separate entities, drum and bass is usually considered to have departed from jungle in the mid to late-1990s.

Producers create the drum patterns featured; sometimes completely off-beat, by cutting apart breakbeats (most notably the Amen break). Jungle producers incorporated classic Jamaican/Caribbean sound-system culture production-methods. The slow, deep basslines and simple melodies (reminiscent of those found in dub, reggae and dancehall) accentuated the overall production, giving 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), during the early 1970s. References to 'jungle', 'junglists', and 'jungle music' can be found throughout the 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 during the 1920s and 1930's. Using African musical and drumming influences, Duke Ellington's band played a rhythmic, exotic sound advertised as "jungle music" and "the jungle sound", and as a result the band was often named The Jungle Band on flyers.

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

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

Some early proponents 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 1990s, including 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.

The emergence of the jungle sound

History of drum and bass

In the summer of 1992, a Thursday night club in London called "Rage" was changing format 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, while 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 "chopped up" breakbeats, people began to use the terms 'jungle', 'junglist' and 'junglism' to describe the music itself. 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.


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, had a dedicated Lovemobile at technoparades, and spawned a series of CD compilations. It was toward the end of this period that the genre began to be more commonly known as 'drum and bass', as most producers started to incorporate new sounds and rhythms into their music.


1996 and 1997 saw a less reggae 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, Ruck Ruckuss, 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

The term "jungle" is often used as a synonym for drum and bass (See Differences between drum and bass and jungle). There is a dissenting viewpoint which asserts that jungle is distinct from 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 two decades 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 and Dubstep. Many notable DJs from the original scene, such as Ray Keith, Goldie, LTJ Bukem, Bay B Kane, Congo Natty, Dillinja, Dom & Roland, Remarc, Kenny Kenn, and Doc Scott, Slipmatt still perform internationally, playing Jungle strictly produced between 1993 and 1999.

Shy FX, creator of "Original Nuttah" with UK Apache, has recently launched the Digital Sound Boy label. Canadian imprint JungleXpeditions features songs with the structure and production values of modern drum & bass mixed with ragga vocals, including reggae and oldschool elements from an international roster of newschool producers. Ragga vocals and oldschool elements have consistently emerged present 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 oldschool jungle revival.


Subgenres of jungle include:

  • Darkcore - instrumental jungle with a "dark", minimal focus (1993-???).
  • Hardcore Jungle - largely influenced by the early-1990s "rave" subculture, featuring frequent melodic "stabs" and "pitched-up" vocals (1991–1995).
  • Intelligent jungle - features an ambient sound that focuses on mood, synthesis and production methods (1993-???).
  • Ragga Jungle - influenced by Jamaican reggae (from 1990 onwards) and often features a MC who recites dancehall-style lyrics.

Notable artists

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Jungle music" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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