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Music

7 jungle classics that still tear up the dance

Take an Amen break, add a splash of Jamaican soundsystem culture, bolt on a killer b-line and you've got a sound that'll tear up the dance. Here are seven old-skool classics that still sound great.
Written by Ben Murphy
3 min readPublished on
In its original form, jungle was a rugged blend of musical fragments, which arose from the early 90's rapidly evolving UK dance scene. Following the breakbeat blueprint of hardcore – while drawing from more traditional reggae soundsystems – its pummelling sub-bass, digital dub effects, wild mishmash of samples and use of dancehall MC vocals birthed a vibrant genre.
At once futuristic, and yet steeped in Jamaican musical history, its rapid-fire beats are what set jungle apart from the rest, with producers like Remarc – with his precise drum editing - taking sample manipulation to new heights. Classic hip-hop breaks (such as The Winstons’ Amen Brother) were sped up to 160bpm, creating metallic and disorientating sounds; breakbeats and syncopated loops formed into a dizzying polyrhythmic mix.
Producers like Splash, Rude Bwoy Monty, Rebel MC (as Blackstar) and DJs including Kenny Ken, Mickey Finn, Jumpin Jack Frost and Randall pushed dance music into a new phase that lasted between 1994 and 1996. While it would soon be overtaken by drum'n'bass – a genre which took jungle’s cut-and-paste approach to sampling to new heights - the music lives on, with modern producers still returning to its sound.
With that in mind, here are seven searing jungle classics:
1. Splash – Babylon
Daz Ellis, known for his many releases as Undercover Agent, was behind this monster: a thundering descent into surgically spliced Amen breaks, bass that could pull you under in seconds, barking pitbulls and a toaster declaring that “all of the youth shall witness the day Babylon shall fall”. It's the devastating heaviness of jungle distilled to a tincture, which still sounds astonishing.
2. Ed Rush – The Force Is Electric (Remix)
Ed Rush was pumping out roughneck beats long before he teamed up with fellow drum and bass production whiz Optical. This menacing remix crackles with energy like electricity pylons - its darkcore bass and unhinged drums making it easily one of the hardest jungle cuts ever.
3. Top Cat – Ruffest Gun Ark (DJ Rap Mix)
This killer vocal from British-Jamaican toaster Top Cat is held aloft by the dancehall bassline and funked up breaks of DJ Rap, one of the early women pioneers of jungle/d&b. Also make sure you check out her classic track Spiritual Aura (as one half of Engineers Without Fears alongside Aston).
4. Rude Bwoy Monty – Out In Da Streets
Eleven years before Damian Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock, Rude Bwoy Monty had already sampled Ini Kamoze's vocal from World-A-Music. Here he throws it over a kinetic breakbeat, alongside vocal snippets from dancehall artists like Mad Cobra and Beenie Man – a gem, engineered by Pascal of the Ganja Kru.
5. Randall & Andy C – Sound Control
Two massive drum and bass DJs combine on this seminal jungle cut. Andy C had already created the classic darkcore of Valley Of The Shadows(as Origin Unknown, with Ant Miles), and Randall was among the most popular selectors on the scene. This minimal track places the emphasis firmly on splintered beats.
6. Dead Dred – Dred Bass
With its gunshot samples and vox grabs from Dr Alimantado, Dred Bass is the quintessential jungle tune. But the most lethal ingredient is that warping android bass...
7. Remarc – R.I.P (Remarc Remix)
The king of fractured, intricately spliced drum patterns. Remarc’s dark beats reached their zenith on this track; it's use of the iconic Reese bass – combined with rhythms that seem to collapse in on themselves – creating a deadly remix.
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