The Jungle Council, probably one of those undisclosed subjects only to be talked about in secret locations or at the back of your local record shop. A name the majority of under 30’s currently into the upfront Drum & Bass scene will probably never come across and a topic that nobody really knows too much about.
Cast your mind back to the glorious days of Jungle, where quality control was pretty high, record shops were in abundance and only a handful of producers, DJ’s and MC’s existed. It was this controlled environment that everyone seemed to thrive on, the ravers knew the big name artists, the bedroom DJs knew the labels to buy and large scale event promoters could be counted on one hand. The Jungle scene had pretty much exploded soon after its evolution from the Hardcore scene and while some DJ’s were still fusing the two styles it was clear which paths artists were going to follow. But the big question was, who was actually in control?
I think this is where the idea behind ‘The Jungle Council’ came in, that’s if the event actually happened but this is how I assume it went..
M-Beat featuring General Levy released ‘Incredible’ on Renk Records in the summer of 1994 which proved to be incredibly popular, both with the Jungle ravers and an unsuspecting commercial crowd. But who is this General Levy and why is he on a Jungle track? Why did he then go on to break the top 40 sales chart and remain in the top 10 for 3 weeks? What was he doing on Top of the Pops? These questions surely need answers?
The story starts with members of the Jungle elite arranging a meeting to discuss General Levy, this probably happened around the time when he proclaimed, or so they say, that he ‘ran Jungle’. I picture the scene something along the lines of Rebel MC, Grooverider, Fabio, Shy FX, Goldie, Ray Keith, DJ Rap, 5ive-O, Moose and others getting together to bring down this ‘Incredible’ tune.
This was the first time that Jungle had seen commercial success, granted the likes of Smart-E’s rocketed the rave scene into the charts in 1992 with a rip off of the Sesame Street theme tune but in terms of Jungle music this was something unseen. Levi’s track was banned from sets across Jungle raves, even promoters were roped in on the act to ensure that ‘Incredible’ wasn’t played. You would be hard pressed to hear the track being played by any of the assumed members of the Council during the summer of ‘94.
5ive-O in true fashion famously ranted about General Levy at a Roast event in July 1994, the set can be found on Youtube here. Moose joins in on the action on the full set but 5ive-O is clearly dedicated to the cause of burying Levy as far into the ground as possible. It’s superb in some respect to hear the passion in his voice, his dedication to the cause as such - you have to give him credit for his public service announcements, even the one about the stolen jacket will go down in Jungle history.
It was documented in All Crews that the main grievance with ‘Incredible’ was that it gave Jungle to the wrong people, providing access to what was once a undiluted underground movement to the mainstream.
General Levy’s biggest downturn was probably signing an autograph “Maximum Big up, From De Origigional Junglist - General Levy”. Considering he was about as original as a ‘classic Jungle’ set by DJ Phantasy it was no wonder that this caused the problems it did.
I remember reading about the mass overload of Ragga influence in Jungle around and shortly after the release of Incredible. At first I think this was probably welcomed until the likes of every man and his dog was pushing out ‘Ragga Jungle Hits Volume 250’.
You have to give Shy FX and UK Apachi credit, considering they released Original Nutta in the same year and the track literally blew up. The reason why this track wasn’t also banned was probably because Shy FX did the groundwork releasing his first tune in 1992 and signing to SOUR shortly after, in 1994. This is the key difference between Shy FX and General Levy - he earned the respect and probably why Shy FX got away with releasing more commercially acceptable tunes such as Shake Ur Body and Don’t Wanna Know years later. That or the fact that by this point nobody seemed to care about foundation or understand where Shy FX came from.
‘Incredible’ reared its rinsed to death head in 2002, this time featuring on Ali G’s - Ali G Indahouse. This then led to the youth of that era incorrectly repeating the lyrics as “Jungle is massive” and spawned even more ‘Jungle’ compilations.
Kool FM’s Maddness interviewed DJ Rap in March this year and briefly touched on the subject.
During the interview, Rap is adamant she strongly opposed the movement and even offers to make a tune with Levy. The World Dance New Years Eve beef with Ray Keith also gets a mention, I am certain that if ‘The Jungle Council’ existed then, the actions at New Year 2000 are connected.
Download the interview via Mediafire here
Rumours come and go and from time to time new pieces to the story are added - pieces that are potentially made up on forums to add some spice to certain events, like the tale of the council meeting around the start of the millenium to force producers to slow down the BPM of the music they were making. Did this ever happen? I have no idea but I suspect Fabio & Grooverider had something to do with it and Clipz had absolutely nothing to say on the subject!
So, this year the winners took a turn in a different direction - compared to previous years where Jump Up dominated the winners list it now seems that a more grown up, commercially aware list of winners has appeared. Has the stream of Pop Drum & Bass assisted with this years winners? In my opinion yes, without a doubt.
Gone are the days of the scene being a ‘Underground’ movement, that probably died a death way back in the middle of the 90’s. Now, in 2011 we have the likes of Hospital Records alongside Chase & Status actually pushing Drum & Bass to the mainstream and, I assume, making a actual living from it.
The die hard original Junglists will probably rage at this success, I know I did for a long time but I eventually decided that when I was 16 and playing upfront Jungle in the early 90’s the original Acid House crew probably thought the same about me. It’s called progression.
To be honest I am so far disjointed from the current scene that I can’t say my opinion is that valid but it’s nice to see the likes of Skibadee missing the top spot. It’s a game changer for some, especially the bait Jump Up producers such as DJ Sly who constantly put out the same old recycled spaff year after year.
Drum & Bass 2012 - time to accept progression I assume?
Personally I’ll just stick to vinyl and Jungle and let the new blood enjoy what’s now become a whole new scene.
The list of winners can be found here