This article is now 20 years old. It’s an argument that wasn’t solved then, and hasn’t been since.
Words: Jane Headon
Photos from Jungle Fever: Donovan
Published in Mixmag April 1994
With the precision of a wire cutter, jungle music has divided the rave scene down the middle. People’s feelings are set down in two camps. Thereʼs those who claim that jungle is keeping dance music alive and that, without it, the entire rave scene would have collapsed. And there’s those who argue that jungle music is a nasty business, too mixed in with hard drugs, violence and bad vibes, killing the scene without mercy.
It has been around, like most dance music forms, since the beginning. After the ’88/’89 summers of love, when house started dividing itself up like an amoeba, one of the sub-genres was heavily reggae inﬂuenced tracks. Black kids stole back their tech and chucked deep baselines and frantic breakbeats under it. Shut Up And Dance started toasting over bass heavy hardcore.
Then in 1991 Rebel MC put out his ‘Black Meaning Goodʼ LP. Suddenly the unlikely bed fellows of ragga and techno became a respected marriage. It was described by many as ‘noise free’ music. Everyone got into it, from The Prodigy to SL2 whose poppy ʻOn A Ragga Tip’ sold 200,000 copies. Techno opened up the scene. Rave became legal, harder and less elitist.
So the pro-junglists are right. Without hardcore the scene wouldn’t be what it is today. Around ’91 and ’92 it was exhorted by ravers for being a truly multi-racial form of music. In 1994, says Gerald Bailey, promoter of Quest in Wolverhampton, a hardcore session that’s been pulling in 1,000 a week for two and a half years now, if you want to fill the club, you play jungle.