Back in April 1994, as the nascent drum and bass scene was growing around the UK, Mixmag ran an interesting analysis of the impact jungle had on dance music – was it a force for good, giving extra mileage to a tired rave scene, or was it a ‘nasty business, too mixed in with hard drugs, violence and bad vibes, killing the scene without mercy’?
As author Jane Headon reported at the time, “After the ’88/’89 summers of love, when house started dividing itself up like an amoeba, one of the sub-genres was heavily reggae inﬂuenced tracks. Black kids stole back their tech and chucked deep baselines and frantic breakbeats under it. Shut Up And Dance started toasting over bass heavy hardcore.”
This, in turn led to hits such as SL2’s On A Ragga Tip, which, of course, cemented that dub reggae/hardcore influence into dance music’s mainstream.
But not all welcomed the new arrival. “Ravers have been writing to Mixmag complaining that jungle is killing rave’s happy vibes,” Headon comments, quoting promoter Gerald Bailey as saying, “A lot of it is quite moody. It doesn’t promote hand shaking and sharing bottles to water.”
But why did dance take a shift to the dark side? Was it due to drugs, or something more basic? The article quotes veteran DJ SS, who suggests that the rise of hardcore was initially a reaction to the commercialisation of the scene, and the need to go back to basics.
“Most of the DJs thought that the scene was getting too commercial,” he explains. “They wanted to deepen the music. They basically went too far but the idea was that the true raver would stick with it and the commercial people – the fakers – would fade out of it. But people took it too far and they forgot. It went too deep for too long.”
You can find the full article here. [Image taken from Mixmag, April 1994]