In our new series ‘The Films That Made Us’, we take a look back at the films that have shaped British music over the last three decades. In today’s edition, we talk to pioneering jungle DJ and producer Krust about the ‘Predator’ films and their insidious influence on jungle.
Six tracks into Ancestorz (Roots of Jungle), the new album by British jungle pioneer Congo Natty (out next month), a British voice says: “America got hip-hop. Jamaica, they got their ragga. We got jungle.” The voice belongs to Ryme Tyme, an MC of Kool FM renown, and he’s speaking on Jungle Fever, a documentary broadcast on BBC 2 in September 1994.
Jungle hadn’t been around long before it was declared a phenomenon, a next big thing, worthy of terrestrial television coverage and cause for excitement in post-Thatcher Britain. “I think it’s just coming from soul, reggae…” says Fabio, pioneering jungle DJ, in the same documentary. He and fellow DJ Grooverider effectively birthed jungle at their London club night, Rage. They grew up listening to reggae and lover’s rock at blues parties in Brixton before switching to jazz, funk, then disco, electro and acid house. When jungle became its own thing in 1992, it also took Reese bass from techno, breakbeats from funk and hip-hop, toasting from dancehall, chords from pop, vocal samples from new wave, “and even jazz,” adds Fabio, “cos it’s quite freestyle as well.”
But jungle’s influences weren’t limited to music. 1994 was also the year that Remarc and Lewi Cifer, two producers from London, released “Ricky”, a rapid jungle cut built around a sample of Cuba Gooding Jr. screaming the track’s title. That sample came from Boyz N The Hood, a film about three friends growing up on the streets of LA whose impact on hip-hop culture is well known today.
According to Bristol jungle legend Krust, “Ricky” represented the consummation of jungle’s love affair with Hollywood. “All these samples, that’s what made those early jungle tunes,” Krust says. “It does something to your mind, or it’s said in a way that, at three o’clock in the morning, when you’ve just done your second E, this terrible beat drops and this vocal comes in, and it sends a chill up your spine.”
Two years earlier, jungle’s most celebrated son, Goldie, released his breakthrough track “Terminator”, sampling a line from the Arnold Schwarzenegger robo romp. Deep Blue’s “The Helicopter Tune”, one of the biggest jungle tracks of 1993, recalls the sound of the whirlybirds in Apocalypse Now. The influential jungle producer Rob Haigh, also known as Omni Trio, talked about the film composer John Barry (Dr No, Goldfinger, King Kong) as an influence, and even remixed the theme from Séance on a Wet Afternoon. Dillinja sampled Vangelis’ Blade Runner score on his 1995 single “The Angels Fell”, naming it after a line from the film. Then there was Devan Gray, a revered producer with records on Ray Keith’s jungle label Dread Recordings, who released music under the name Bladerunner.