Him only smoke cigarettes and strictly shag...2006-03-28 by The Double K
Barrington Levy & Beenie Man – Under Mi Sensi (Jungle Spliff) – X-Project Remix
1994 was the year that Jungle really broke the UK mainstream, getting played on Radio 1, Kiss FM and other commercial stations who had until then pretty much blacklisted the music despite a huge underground following. The cautious acceptance by the commercial stations was in some part down to the emergence of the “Ragga Jungle” style – there were obvious frontmen (the singers), who were much more marketable than a bunch of faceless sound engineers.
By far the biggest hit was M-Beat’s “Incredible”, featuring General Levy. In an interview in The Face magazine Levy claimed that “I run jungle at the moment”, causing a huge backlash in the underground jungle scene – pirate stations stopped playing his records (I remember Incredible had been massive on Kool FM up until the interview came out – they immediately stopped playing it and the MCs cussed Levy non-stop on air for weeks afterwards), he received death threats, DJs who played Incredible out received death threats and/or were blacklisted. Levy soon made a public apology, claiming that the Face journalist had misrepresented him.
The overground success of jungle forced a meeting of the main players in the scene to form a Jungle Committee tasked with keeping the music’s integrity intact; events or tunes deemed “too cheesy” were to be boycotted. (Apparently there was a similar meeting of a Jungle Committee more recently, where a decision was taken to put a cap on the speed (BPMs) of two-step jungle tracks being produced, as tracks were becoming too fast to mix with other types of jungle.)
Ragga Jungle turned out to be a fad that lasted a year at the most. Producers moved on to either LTJ-Bukem style jazzy/ambient jungle or to a stripped-down tech-step drum’n’bass sound. The commercial stations lost interest again and jungle returned to its natural home in the underground.
So Ragga Jungle is seen by some as cheesy pop aberration – a hiccup in the progression of jungle. For my part, I think it’s great fun and there are some truly class Ragga Jungle tracks. How can anyone not bounce around to this?