Autumn 2015. P Boss of the All Crews crew shared a link via Whatsapp. It’s one of the most extraordinary bits of radio I’ve ever heard. Not necessarily for the right reasons. I’m looking at a picture of a guy in the studio on Capital XTRA in a cascading scarlet wig, presenting The History of Jungle, spouting scene talk like, “Put out your chest.”
I think he means big up your chest, but you get my, sorry his, drift. I’ll return to this later.
Summer 2015. I’ve come off the decks at Sun&Bass having played an evening set in swanky outdoor venue Ambra Day. It went well and I’ve no complaints. Stress over, I’m relaxed enough to enjoy Doc Scott’s devastating session in club Ripping.
An Asian breddah comes up to me sheepishly, shakes me by the hand saying, “Thanks for everything you’ve done for drum & bass.”
Of course, I’m flattered whilst being modestly embarrassed. I should be used to it but I’m not. Like people asking me to sign their copies of All Crews. After 15 years, I’m still not used to it. One of the All Crews crew later berates me for being embarrassed, commenting, “You’ve earned it.”
Going back 20 years now, I’m still shocked at the fact that I walked into BBC Radio One with the idea for One in the Jungle. ‘Who dares wins’ goes the motto. And who am I to argue with the SAS? So I dared, even though I was only a raver with no links to any DJs or MCs. 20 years ago I wouldn’t have believed our music would still be such an important part of my life. But it is. And I’m happy.
I’ve watched how our music has grown in popularity, noting how advertising companies and TV have used jungle drum & bass to sell their wares with everything from ice cream to clothes to trainers to trailers. I still remember the day I was in a Dublin shoe shop and my unconscious neurones lit up with the fact that I was listening to drum & bass.
OK it was Girls Aloud singing, “This is the sound of the underground!”
Whilst being pleasantly surprised, I couldn’t help thinking of the irony. If a chart-topping girl band are featuring drum & bass, it’s no longer underground.
But hey I shouldn’t be churlish. Girls Aloud were part of the process of moving jungle into mainstream consciousness. The genie is out of the bottle. And, to mix my metaphors, you can’t get the toothpaste back in the tube.
So, returning to that Whatsapp link, the guy in the cascading scarlet wig enunciating, “Put out your chest.” The man like Dezert commented, “Even the cold fresh air couldn’t dull my mood this morning as I was witnessing aural, comedy gold”, “Come on raggaman.” and “4 deck rinse out.”
Junglette Josie said, “It has to be in the hall of golden dnb disaster fame! But wot a uplifting tonic cos it sure had me cracking up till I shed tears and caused my cheeks to feel like they were gonna rip at the seams from laughing so hard.”
As jungle is now in the mainstream we should expect this sort of thing from the likes of Capital XTRA. At one time I would have been incensed enough to write to the radio station signed, ‘Disgusted of Tottenham.’ But now I can laugh with the best of them.
One thing is certain though, the anthem bashing selection (probably mixed by software) included many quality tunes. And whose show was it? A certain DJ AJ.
“Who’s that?” I hear you ask.
Mr Aled The Snowman “Walking in the Air” Jones! I hope I haven’t been unfair to Mr. Jones. If you really are down ‘n’ dirty with jungle perhaps we’ll meet on a dance floor somewhere. In the mean time put out, sorry, big up your chest!