If you want to shake the sleep from your eyes and bring the sun out from behind the...
Colin Buttimer 2007
As I’m listening to this compilation of prime Ragga Jungle, I’m wondering - does music get better than this? Every one of Rumble In The Jungle’s thirteen tracks is brimming over with life and sonic thrills. Some people looked down on this music in its heyday (the mid 90s). It was seen as crude compared to the supposedly sophisticated – but often pretty boring – allure of ‘grown-up’ Drum’n’Bass. The offspring of ‘ardkore and Jamaican dancehall, Ragga Jungle realised the potential of early Jungle in a glorious soundclash of different elements that was and still is guaranteed to set your pulse racing and your feet dancing.
The carnival kicks off with Asher Senator (Smiley Culture’s sparring partner) quoting from the bible while bells toll and synths dip and soar, but it’s not long before the breaks start rolling in fine style. Senator hardly pauses for breath, leaving his listeners exhausted and maybe even slack-jawed. Better pace yourselves, there’s nearly another hour to go. Next up, ''Bad Boy Lick A New Shot'' is delivered by not one, but four vocalists: Ninjaman, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man And Ninja Ford, each taking turns to deliver their pitch over clattering breaks, incessant gunfire and fat bass drops.
Big tunes like ''Incredible'' by M Beat and General Levy, and ''Original Nuttah'' by UK Apachi and Shy FX are here – Nuttah broke the UK charts and everyone thought it meant Jungle was going to conquer the mainstream, but it wasn’t to be. The one odd track is ''No Doubt'' from 2001, though it’s a 'Shut Up And Dance' tune and fine as it is, it’s not Ragga Jungle - it’s probably there to make the link to Grime and Dubstep. I don’t know why the excellent Soul Jazz Records have chosen this particular moment to release this compilation, but I’m certainly not complaining. Some of this music was released in ‘91, but it sounds like it was made yesterday. If you want to shake the sleep from your eyes and bring the sun out from behind the clouds, Rumble in the Jungle is the record you need to be hearing.