January 2023
Words and playlist by Ellie Rousseau
Photos courtesy of Museum of Youth Culture

From ‘90s to now, we trace the legacy of the super sharp sounds of Jungle and how its styles and sounds have influenced our collections for 2023.

It’s 2023 and 21st century cool kids are undefined.
The streets are online and offline.
Girls dress like boys, boys dress like girls.
Style codes both old and new.

Our 2023 collections, ‘Night Tales,’ pay homage to UK sounds derived from the 90s-00s underground rave scene. The energy, the basslines, the primal urge to come together, an inner-city mashup of race, class and culture; forgetting about it all in a dimly lit room wobbling from the sound system.

Jungle, the older sibling of drum and bass, was the sound of multicultural Britain. Nightlife was moving away from free parties and the Junglists were dressing up to go out at night, curating their style and hunting down tickets. Head to toe print and brand slogans that got the ‘nod in the street’ would fill the dancefloor amongst strobe lights and sweaty glows as someone calls for the rewind.

The Windrush generation brought Soundsystem culture and block parties, impacting UK style, music and new sounds. By the early ‘90s Ragga/Dub basslines and sped-up hip hop breakbeats were cut-and-pasted with ragga style MCing with detailed sampling of ringing phones, sirens, stabs and snares. Tracks were being built on 8-bit gaming software like Octamed 4 which ran on a low-end home computer like the Amiga 1200. The limitations of this early sample package were essential to the home-grown Jungle ruffneck sound. White label vinyl with sharpie-scrawled titles in limited pressings and unreleased records flooded the underground subculture.

Jungle was rinsed quickly due to the UK Garage and Grime take over before the millennium. There have often been revivals of the sound but thirty years on there’s a new generation of producers with fresh takes on the formula of the Old Skool sound. Towards the end of the playlist are a selection of tracks that resonate with the 2023 collection’s concept of traditional patterns done in contemporary ways; producers running up time for Nu Skool Jungle securing its relevance in the modern era.