Jungle music first lit up dance floors in London, UK. It is an electronic dance music (EDM) style that started in the early 1990s. It developed from breakbeat hardcore, the relentless, percussion-driven dance music that propelled the early ’90s. However, it has a grittier blend of deep basslines and rhythms with hip-hop and reggae influences. Jungle music created a sound system and rave culture and swiftly captured the attention of young Britains.

Origin of Jungle Music

Early in the 1990s, breakbeat hardcore, a favorite of ravers, swiftly split into various subgenres, including Cheerful Hardcore, which originated in Belgium and the Netherlands. Darkcore, a somber variation with samples and synthesizers that evoked the atmosphere of suspense, was another emerging subgenre. Early attempts at Jungle Music, released by music labels such as Suburban Base & Moving Shadow, referenced Darkcore. Tracks like DJ Hype’s “Shot in the Dark” and Origin Unknown’s “Valley of the Shadows” show this.

Breakbeat Hardcore was infused with more mellow, melodic sounds and rhythms from Jamaican music genres, including reggae, dancehall, and dub by a second faction of the Jungle music scene. Music from DJs like 4hero and Remarc, initially called “Jungle Techno,” acquired a passionate following amongst club-goers and DJs at pirate broadcast stations.

How This Subgenre Gained Popularity

In the middle of the 1990s, the popularity of the Jungle scene peaked. At this time, the genre had its own dedicated BBC radio show and some top hits, including “Amazing” by DJ/producer M-Beat from 1994, “Terrorist” by Renegade, and “Original Nuttah” by Shy FX with UK Apache on vocals. The subgenre spread beyond Britain partly due to performers with large worldwide fan bases like Roni Size and 4hero.

White and Black fans of reggae, hip-hop, electro, and rave music were brought together by the multicultural elements of Jungle music. Jamaican rhythms, electronic music, and breakbeats were the uniting factors. Like many other types of dance music, this subgenre gave rise to various others, such as the upbeat Jump-Up and the more reggae-influenced Ragga Jungle. It also served as the basis for Drum and Bass (Drum ‘n’ Bass), boosting Jungle breakbeats’ velocity and intricacy.

Early in the 2000s, these spin-offs of Jungle Music surpassed their predecessor in popularity among EDM fans. Yet, albums by Legendary musicians like Michael West and variations like Drumfunk helped Jungle Music maintain its popularity. Michael West, also known as Congo Natty and Rebel MC, is a Ragga Jungle pioneer.


Jungle music uses a moderate 160 BPM tempo, similar to Drum and Bass, and quicker than early hardcore compositions. Moreover, it flows faster than many of the reggae and dub recordings it samples. These samples usually have tempos between 90 and 120 BPM. More contemporary EDM styles like dubstep use 140 BPM.

Heavy bass lines, upbeat breakbeat, and synth lines are crucial to this sound. Synths link Jungle music to Breakbeat Hardcore and House music. In early Jungle and Darkcore, the synthesizers were ominous. In later forms, they become more melodic. Producers o this style implemented hip-hop vocal and instrumental samples to add character to a track.

The most popular soul/funk instrumental sample is the “Amen break,” taken from the Winstons’ 1969 record “Amen, Brother.” Another popular sample is the dub siren. It’s an audio test tone that became a siren in the hands of famed dub producers like King Tubby.

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