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the CBC gives the culture a nod

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    the CBC gives the culture a nod

    DJ Lush and Marcus Visionary cofounded the label imprint Inner City Dance in 2015. They release and promote some of Toronto's finest hardcore dance music, especially jungle and drum 'n' bass. (DJ Lush/Facebook, Marcus Visionary/Instagram; graphic by CBC Music)

    In Channel 4's seminal 1994 documentary All Junglists!, jungle music — the ragga-inflected "techno-hip hop" regularly charting tempos of 150 beats per minute or more — is famously described as "a London some'ting … and a London some'ting 'dis." Jungle, as it emerged from the cultural residue of Thatcher-era United Kingdom — and exemplified by artists like DJ Ron and DJ Hype — was a provincial sound. But to the club-going Briton, jungle meant the whole world. And by the early '90s, U.K. electronic dance music had evolved in such a punctuated way that "to rave," it seemed, was to do nothing less than perform revolution.

    As intense a cultural moment as jungle was, it enjoyed a relatively brief lifespan. Some might suggest that the genre begins and ends with early '90s urban Britain — before shooting into the global mainstream mid-'90s, as what we now call drum 'n' bass music. Yet, jungle — the spirit and the sound — was merely sublimated deeper underground. Many have continued to practise the genre as it was originally preached. As jungle music crested in popularity, some artists felt free to take the genre in different directions while others physically migrated elsewhere, taking the sounds with them.

    One of the places junglists relocated to was Toronto — and what initially began as an import of a U.K. sound has since lived through a Canadian explosion in popularity, a golden age, a relative comedown and a maturation.
    Historically, jungle did start its [North American] tenure in Toronto.- DJ Lush

    A generation later, Toronto jungle music is a compact but creative scene dedicated to the preservation of all things junglism. Toronto's jungle crews remain true to the genre's original counter-cultural values and fast-paced sound visions, honouring the music's lineage within Black diasporic histories that were defined by resistance. Looking down the barrel of a possible jungle renaissance, junglists young and old — especially in Toronto — are in a position to look back: on the history of the local jungle scene, its proudly underground nature and the sub-cultural energy that made the scene so resilient over the years. Junglists today remain connected by a shared love for diasporic figures of sound and, perhaps above all, memories of the scene's glory days.

    "I personally feel blessed to have been a part of the scene from before its inception in 1992," said Marc Sills, a producer as well as the founder of Delirium, Toronto's first all-jungle rave company. Sills, who goes by the stage name Marcus Visionary, and his label partner Brad, a.k.a. DJ Lush, run Inner City Dance, a label imprint established in 2015 that's currently releasing and promoting some of Toronto's finest hardcore dance music — especially jungle and drum 'n' bass.

    DJ Lush counts Marcus Visionary as among the first wave of jungle artists to emerge from Toronto — a "legit big-name international star." Both have been around since the beginning, and are eager to explain the history of jungle on this side of the Atlantic. "Historically, jungle did start its [North American] tenure in Toronto," Lush said, "and it's widely recognized that for a good decade or more we had the largest scene outside the U.K. for it."
    The No. 1 jungle music spot in North America

    A 1995 Toronto Star article written by Peter Howell rejoiced in the exhilarating "dance-floor rage of the year": jungle. The article pointed out that Toronto was, at the time, "the No. 1 jungle music spot in North America." Meanwhile, Visionary and Lush say that things had begun a few years earlier. It was then, in 1990, that two London DJs — stage names Dr. No and Malik X — stepped off the plane in Toronto. Both of Black Caribbean heritage, the two would be among the first DJs to toast the hardcore dance amalgam that became jungle in Canadian clubs.

    At the time, much of the U.K. electronic dance and rave culture — with its samples of children's programs and "frenzied, thudding bass lines" — was hopelessly stereotyped as "infantile and stupid," to quote the British critical theorist Benjamin Noys. Its uncompromising Blackness and multiracial appeal was a stark contrast to the perceived political neutrality of other club scenes. Even the name, "jungle," a deliberate inversion of racist characterizations of Black music, was, itself, a provocative political statement.

    In introducing jungle music to Canada, Dr. No and Malik X would touch off an exploration of the cultural gulf between urban North America and its U.K. counterpart.

    Toronto and London are connected by a diasporic web of histories that links them both to the anglophone Afro-Caribbean, a crucial node itself within the broader Black Atlantic. Aspects of Afro-Caribbean music culture — MCing, toasting, sound systems — became important characteristics of the overall jungle sound.

    "The MCs are a direct carryover from original Jamaican sound system culture that took hold in the U.K. and carried over into all other forms of U.K. music," Lush re-affirms. Likewise, toasting, a kind of emceeing which involves rhythmic chanting over beats helped provide sound systems — in other words, production crews — a furthered degree of individuality. "The phenomenon is 100 per cent mirrored in Toronto from day one," Lush says.

    Thus, from the '90s on, Toronto would prove a fertile space for jungle music to transplant and grow. A British sound, recast in Canada's image.
    Key figures in the Toronto jungle scene

    As Dr. No and Malik X were introducing everything "proto-jungle" to Toronto, local listeners like Visionary and Lush were being exposed to this new sound. This style of so-called "hardcore dance" combined sampled break-beats with cascading rhythms. This elevated the music above mere pastiche — in some cases into pure unadulterated groove. Around this time, between 1991 and 1995, "jungle remixes" were becoming a common feature on U.K. B-sides. The producer M-Beat famously re-recorded Anita Baker's "Sweet Love" with singer Nazlyn, which, coupled with his single "Incredible," became the first jungle hit in the U.K. Top 10.

    Meanwhile, Visionary and Lush both encountered hardcore dance music through crate-digging and avid record collecting. "I personally discovered jungle by way of hip hop," Lush said. "I used to go down to Play de Record and Starsound every Saturday and spend what little money I had on 12-inch vinyl, Source magazines and import cassettes. It was there that I would see all of the colourful early rave flyers from companies like Exodus and Chemistry at the front cash and I would take them with me to read on the subway ride home."

    Visionary worked at Play de Record — a popular record shop that was then located on Yonge Street in Toronto — from the early-to-late 90s, right out of high school, under the wing of head buyer Rick Mullen, a.k.a. Medicine Muffin, who had connections to Dr. No. "Working in the record shops not only supplied me with the latest music, but introduced me to all of the key figures in the club, warehouse, radio and music industry," Visionary said.

    James Vandervoort, DJing as James St. Bass, also worked at Play de Record in the early '90s. St. Bass was another one of the first-generation artists to emerge from the silhouette of Dr. No and Malik X's influence.

    "I was in it from the beginning really," he said. His radio show Hard Drive on CIUT 89.5FM helped jungle gain mass appeal in Toronto, along with radio show The Prophecy. "Into the beginning of 1990, the genres of techno, rave, acid house, ragga and break-beats were all being played on college radio and at underground warehouse style events here," he reminisced.

    If Dr. No and Malik X exported hardcore to Toronto's dance-floors, radio shows like Hard Drive, The Prophecy and others helped bring the sounds out of the parties and onto the airwaves. "New import records and promos arrived in the city weekly," St. Bass said. As a result, "genres, tempos and styles mutated and morphed — very quickly."

    It was around this time that hardcore music and rave-centric parties were growing in terms of sheer head counts and "boots-on-the-dance-floor" — globally and in Toronto. "By the mid-'90s, [jungle] was, I would say, the biggest draw for events, outside traditional rock concerts," St. Bass said.
    A turning point in jungle music


    That's pretty cool. Mans can really claim that they were a part of something very unique and special in the history of this city. If only we had known then what we know today, maybe we would've fought a bit harder to protect our party. Lol.


      cool ,but fuck the CBC. I hope Pierre Poilievre defunds them when he becomes Prime Minister.


        This is fake news


          Originally posted by Zebb View Post
          cool ,but fuck the CBC. I hope Pierre Poilievre defunds them when he becomes Prime Minister.
          I support this message.