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Jungle is a genre of electronic music derived from breakbeat hardcore that developed in England in the early 1990s as part of UK rave scenes. The style is characterized by fast tempos (150 to 200 bpm), breakbeats, dub reggae basslines, heavily syncopated percussive loops, samples, and synthesized effects. Long pitch-shifted snare rolls are common in old-school jungle. Jungle was a predecessor to drum and bass, a well-known genre of electronic music.
Producers create the drum patterns by cutting apart breakbeats, the most common of which is the Amen break. Jungle producers incorporate classic Jamaican/Caribbean sound-system culture production methods. The slow, deep basslines and simple melodies are reminiscent of those found in dub, reggae and dancehall. These features give jungle its "rolling" quality.
Producers and DJs of the early 1990s, including MC 5ive '0, Groove Connection and Kingsley Roast, attribute the origin of the word in the scene to pioneers Moose, Soundman and Johnny Jungle. 'Jungle' stems from the term 'junglist', which refers to people from Arnett Gardens, an area of Kingston. It is often noted that Rebel MC popularised the term in the UK by sampling the phrase 'alla the junglists' from a tape of a sound-system party in Kingston.:304
Jungle was a form of cultural expression for London's lower class urban youth. The post-Thatcherite United Kingdom of the early 1990s had left many young urbanites disenfranchised and disillusioned with a seemingly crumbling societal structure. Jungle reflected these feelings; it was a notably more dark, less euphoric style of music than many of the other styles popular at raves.:239-240 The music was much more popular with black British youths than other rave styles, such as techno, even though it was heavily influenced by these other rave styles, including those that emerged from the United States.
Jungle's rhythm-as-melody style overturned the dominance of melody-over-rhythm in the hierarchy of Western music, adding to its radical nature.:242 Jungle music, as a scene, was unable to decide whether it wanted to be recognized in the mainstream or if it wanted to avoid misrepresentation. This manifested in the cooperation of Jungle artists and small record labels. Small record labels work to provide more autonomy to the music artists in return for their business and jungle music was proliferated by pirate stations in underground networks and clubs. An example of this conflict is General Levy, a reggae artist, who was criticized for selling out to mainstream when his single, "Incredible," made the UK single charts in 1994. There was a mixed view of his work as many did not like his claim as "King of Jungle". At the same time, his work allowed popular recognition which may not have occurred otherwise.
In the summer of 1992, a Thursday night club in London called Rage was changing the format in response to the commercialization of the rave scene. Resident DJs Fabio and Grooverider, amongst others, began to take the hardcore sound to a new level. The speed of the music increased from 120 bpm to 150 bpm, while more ragga and dancehall elements were brought in and techno, disco and house influences were decreased.
Giorgio Moroder's rhythmic simplification in the form of Eurodisco was reversed by the development of jungle. The safety of the trance-like state produced by disco and house was replaced with the edginess and danger of disruptive beats.:241 When breakbeat 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.
Rage shut its doors in 1993, but the new legion of jungle 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.
One of the most widely used and distinctive breakbeats in the genre of jungle music is the "Amen break". The snare-and-cymbal sequence first appeared in The Winstons's 1969 single "Amen, Brother", and has since been chopped up, recycled, and remixed into countless drumbeats underlying most of the genre.:240
Jungle shares a number of similarities with hip hop. 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.".
The maturation of Jungle coincided with an increasing ease of computer-based music production, allowing beats to be chopped, processed, and resequenced into higher and higher levels of complexity. Producers began meticulously building breakbeats from scratch with extreme precision, sequencing together individual single shot samples. The percussion took on an eerie chromatic quality through digital effects like time-stretching/compression, pitch shifting, ghosting, and psychedelia style reverse. The resultant polyrhythms of jungle's "rhythmic psychedelia" triggered a physical as well as mental disorientation in the listener/dancer. The melodic, textural bass differentiated Jungle from the metronomic, pulsating sound of mainstream dance music. This new "dangerbass" was physically experienced and multi-layered.:241-243
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 towards the end of this period that the genre was being tainted by the majors (commercial) and the Jungle music went underground. This is when 'drum and bass' started to emerge as the European producers became intimidated by the stir Jungle had caused, and then incorporated 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 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.
The term jungle is often used as a synonym for drum and bass, particularly in the United States. More commonly, jungle is viewed as the originating point for drum and bass, with the progressive changes brought by artists in the late 1990s serving as the point of diversion (some examples being Reprazent, Ed Rush, LTJ Bukem, Potential Bad Boy, Photek, Jack Smooth, Digital, Total Science, Goldie and Optical).
A thriving underground movement producing and developing tracks in the style of the 1990s and some original (though mostly mainstream drum and 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.
The jungle music scene in the UK, though underground, has experienced continued popularity, specifically tributed to the Oldskool 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 Ken, Doc Scott and Slipmatt still perform internationally, playing jungle strictly produced between 1993 and 1999.
Shy FX, creator of "Original Nuttah" with UK Apache, has launched the Digital Soundboy label. Canadian imprint JungleXpeditions features songs with the structure and production values of modern drum & bass mixed with ragga vocals, including reggae and oldskool elements from an international roster of nu-skool producers. Ragga vocals and oldskool 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.
An Eastern European jungle oriented underground movement also has appeared. It includes clothing fashions similar to the UK's '90s rave scene. Bulgaria has been prominent in an old school jungle revival.
The group Rudimental, who have reached #1 on the UK Singles Charts on two occasions, use elements of jungle and breakbeat in their music. Example's album Live Life Living, released in 2014, contains elements of jungle and other '90s dance and rave genres.
Subgenres of jungle include:
Jungle music burst onto the scene in the early 1990s as a genre of music arising from techno with strong influences from hip-hop. It became a convergence of the African-American and African-Caribbean diaspora. Simon Reynolds' article looked at the rise of Jungle music, the techniques and influences involved in its creation, and the reasons for the boom in popularity. He also discussed the nuances of Jungle and the importance of technology in its creation. Coming into popularity in the early 1990s Jungle was ridiculously upbeat, intense, and even discombobulating. Reynold's compared the effect to that of "a shrew on the verge of a coronary, or, more to the point, a raver's heartbeat after necking three E's.":245 Characterized by the breakbeats and multi-tiered rhythms, Jungle drew support from British b-boys who got swept up into the rave scene, but also from reggae, dancehall, electro and rap fans alike. Reynold's described it as causing fear and "for many ravers, too funky to dance":241 yet the club scene enjoyed every second.
Techniques and styles could be traced to such a vast group of influencers, each adding their own little elements. As Reynolds said jungle was like "Britain's very own equivalent to US hip-hop. That said, you could equally make the case that jungle is a raved-up, digitized offshoot of Jamaican reggae. Musically, jungle's spatialized production, bass quake pressure and battery of extreme sonic effects, make it a sort of postmodern dub on steroids.":242 I feel like this is one of the best examples of the effects of the sonic diaspora and how wide of influence musical genres have; jungle is where these different Black Atlantic genres converge. It was also interesting to see how as the genre evolved with different influences, so did the audience; going from a "sweaty, shirtless white teenager, grinning and gurning" to a "head nodding, stylishly dressed black twenty something with hooded-eyes, holding a spliff in one hand and a bottle of champagne in the other.":250