Jungle emerged during the early 1990s, driven by various sounds crystallising in the London rave scene. DJs who had already been speeding up breakbeats now raised the BPM even higher, mixing in influences from ragga and dancehall.
As jungle defined itself, the sound took off and a wave of ravers began to represent their newfound identities as junglists. At club nights like Telepathy and Roast, people started to introduce styles from reggae, dancehall, rave and hip hop; with looks ranging from designer labels, to Caribbean-influenced colours and black MA-2 bomber jackets fitted with club logos.
As DJs developed the sound, MCs such as the Ragga Twins, Skibadee and Demolition Man added new rhythmic layers to jungle with fast-paced lyrics. Pirate radio stations such as Weekend Rush and Kool broadcasted from council block rooftops and became key to spreading jungle’s message to its growing fan base.
During this early period, jungle remained underground, but by 1994 the scene was peaking. Songs such as Incredible by General Levy and M-Beat, Original Nuttah by Shy FX and UK Apache, and Fire by Demolition Man and Terry T began to feature in the UK charts.
“Jungle has played an important part in my career as it was the music that elevated me to international status,” says Demolition Man, reflecting earlier this year. “It has helped me to travel around the globe for over 20 years.”
After Goldie released his debut album Timeless in 1995, jungle reached the mainstream. But this new commercial element to the music – accompanied by an increase in violence at clubs – affected the wider jungle community, eventually pushing the sound into decline.
Yet in recent years, jungle has experienced a revival in the UK. A new group of junglists, inspired by the genre’s original sound and ethos, have helped provide energy to the scene.
“Jungle is important to me because of the feeling I get when I am in a jungle rave or DJing at one,” says Benny Page, a present-day jungle and drum’n’bass DJ and producer. “The feeling of togetherness – not a lot can compete with that.
“While the scene today is a sort of cult scene in comparison to its heights in the mid-1990s, that makes it extra special to the people involved in it ... artists like Congo Natty, Ed Solo, and Demolition Man are still flying the flag and pushing the sound forward.”