August 2022 has seen the debut of some of the most educational and binge-worthy music and culture documentaries. ‘Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99’ investigated Woodstock’s poor planning and execution, while BBC Radio 1Xtra’s new documentary, ‘This is Amapiano‘, examined the emergence and popularity of the Amapiano genre.
‘The Evolution of Black British Music’ also premiered in August 2022, highlighting Black British genres such as jungle, UK garage, grime, and afrobashment. Its first episode focuses on Jungle music. Jungle grew in popularity in the 1990s, presenting a new sound distinguished by quick breakbeats, rhythmic percussion loops, and elements of soul, reggae, dub, hip-hop, and funk. ‘We Are I.E.’ by breakbeat producer Lennie De Ice is hailed as one of the earliest sounds that formed the groundwork for jungle music. Although released in 1991, the breakbeat/jungle track was produced in 1988.
With the premiere of ‘The Evolution of Black British Music‘, we’ve compiled a selection of jungle documentaries and short films that delve into its roots. They are available on YouTube and include interviews with some of the genre’s finest DJs and music producers.
20 Years Of Jungle Mania
UK jungle and garage music producer Ty Leon Thompson, best known as Teebone, takes us backstage during the 20th year of the Junglemania event at the Coronet Theatre in 2013. This documentary includes backstage interviews with some of the biggest personalities in jungle music, including Ragga Twins, Jumping Jack Frost, MC Shabba D, Kenny Ken, DJ Brockie, and late MC Skibadee, and many others. Artists describe their journey into the music industry, favorite venues to perform, memorable gigs, and recollections of the early days of jungle music in these backstage interviews.
ALL BLACK – JUNGLE FEVER
‘All Black Jungle Fever‘ is a documentary about the emergence of jungle music in the United Kingdom. This documentary was one of the first to highlight the genre when it originally premiered in 1994. Shy Fx, UK Apache, LTJ Bukem, Fabio, DJ Rap, Mc Lenny, and Mc Gunsmoke can be seen in the half-hour presentation. The film dives into the early reaction of the genre, record labels scouting jungle talent, music production in the 90s, and jungle’s significance in the Black community in the UK.
Channel 4’s Jungle Music Documentary
This was the final episode of Channel 4’s Music Nation season one which aired in 2014. The short documentary looks at the beginnings of the UK jungle music movement, digging into elements of breakbeat hardcore and jungle. It includes informative segments with jungle heavyweights Fabio and Grooverider, the ragga twins, and record label owners PJ & Smiley aka Shut Up & Dance, as well as record producer Slipmatt DJ Hype, Kenny Ken, Brockie, and others. They go to iconic clubs and recording studios to share their memories and stories about the underground culture back in the day.
Did You Know?
The Amen Break, a six-second drum sample, was initially performed in 1969 on the track ‘Amen Brother’ by drummer G. C. Coleman of the funk and soul group The Winstons. It became more prominent in the 1990s and was associated with drum and bass and jungle music. Members of The Winstons, on the other hand, did not earn royalties for the drum sample until a GoFundMe crowdfunding effort was established in 2015.
Quick Watch: Made In Britain Jungle
A six-minute presentation about jungle and its evolution featuring Jumping Jack Frost, DJ Rap, Mickey Finn, and MC GQ.
That UK Sound – Roots Of UK Jungle
‘That UK Sound – Roots Of UK Jungle’ is hosted on BearingUK, a YouTube channel committed to archiving and promoting music in the UK. This film goes back to much earlier, when Caribbean migrants first came to the UK, bringing their music, new sounds, and culture with them. An important aspect touched upon is their sound systems that were carried over during these migrations. It also highlights how rave culture and jungle music brought together the black and white communities in the UK in the 1990s.
Dub To Jungle Documentary
Kane FM, the local community radio station in the United Kingdom, filmed and documented the 2011 Dub to Jungle tour. The film digs into the history of bass culture through interviews with Channel One Sound System, one of the UK’s best-known and most loved reggae sound systems. It probes into the history of jungle music through Congo Natty, Tenor Fly, Klose One, Nanci & Phoebe, and others.
The American Jungle
We end our list with a documentary that spreads out across twenty-three cities in the United States, delivering an intimate look into the jungle and DnB culture. The documentary, which is divided into three parts, investigates the origins of drum and bass and jungle, as well as their impact on electronic music in North America. It features musicians such as DJ Hype, Dieselboy, DJ Aphrodite, DB Burkeman, DJ Dara, Andy C, AK1200, 6Blocc aka R.A.W, and Reid Speed, to mention a few.