History Sessions: The Junglist Massive! (1994 – 1995)

You have to feel sorry for M-Beat

When General Levy, an MC with his roots in the dancehall claimed that he was “runnin’ jungle” the fallout that followed passed into drum & bass legend. The story goes that after being annoyed by this careless boast, a committee of top DJ’s and producers calling themselves the ‘Jungle Council’ boycotted Levy and anyone playing his records. Unfortunately for M-Beat, Levy was the MC responsible for the infamous vocals on his biggest hit (and only jungle record to ever break the top 10), ‘Incredible’. This effectively ended M-Beat’s career which was a great shame, as up until this point he had a near flawless back-catalogue of ragga-flavoured jungle anthems including Rumble, Shuffle and Surrender. Nevertheless, tarnished through association, M-Beat was persona non grata within the junglist fraternity, and subsequently shunned by the scene’s top players.

Exactly who was involved in the ‘Jungle Council’, and just how influential they were is not really known – But it’s safe to say that feathers had been ruffled. MC Five-0, a man renowned for a good rant about his stolen jacket amongst other things, called out General Levy as a saboteur and a perpetrator during a Roast event in 1994, and others including Shy FX can be seen talking about the matter in this jungle documentary.

Looking back from a time when Drum & Bass music has grown into a massive global scene, it’s easy to dismiss all this fuss as being a little bit silly and petty; but in the context of the time it was important. Jungle was still in its infancy, and there was a protective sense of pride amongst those involved that they had created a soundtrack for British youth culture organically without the majors or mainstream media sticking their oar in. Produced in makeshift bedroom studios and promoted by illegal pirate radio stations, jungle was the soundtrack to inner city life made by the people, for the people. And so it was of little surprise that eyebrows were raised when General Levy started dancing around on Top Of The Pops. Many would remember only too well how commercialism chewed up and spat out the rave scene just two years earlier…

Yet despite all the effort to shield Jungle from outside influence, its time in the spotlight was inevitable. After dismissing the rise of Jungle, the media were now popping their heads round the club doors to find out what it was going on inside. They were unimpressed. Jungle quickly gained a reputation for attracting criminal elements and trouble, which to be fair wasn’t completely without foundation. Music that openly glamorizes guns and violence will inevitably appeal to those who identify with it. This prompted some, including Fabio to consciously distance themselves from ‘Jungle’ and rebrand their music as ‘Drum & Bass’ in an attempt to shake off the negative stereotypes they had been collectively saddled with.

Despite this, for a brief period during the mid-90’s Jungle was the ‘in’ thing. Perhaps spurred on by a recent rise in the popularity of Reggae, it was the Ragga-influenced sound that caught the wider public’s attention. This month’s mixes are a tribute to Ragga’s reign as king of the Jungle before mainstream media focus shifted towards the artier end of Drum & Bass.

Download “1994 Ragga Jungle”

Eazyflow - 1994 Ragga Jungle.mp3 – Downloaded 1004 times – 122.66 MB

Download “1995 Ragga Jungle”

Eazyflow - 1995 Ragga Jungle.mp3 – Downloaded 842 times – 140.07 MB