Published May 01, 2000Arguably their most accessible and daring release, the Jungle Brothers' fifth album, V.I.P., is an unabashed gumbo of meticulously constructed dance grooves that furthers Afrika Baby Bam and Mike G's reputation for maverick sonic directions. "The label wants to say 'new direction,'" says Afrika. "I feel it's natural for us. but all that's saying is we're making a record that's focused on those who love the Jungle Brothers."
Afrika and Mike G., recruited the Propellerheads' Alex Gifford to helm the group's latest adventure. Gifford's layered and musically broad arrangements gels with the Jungle Brothers' own roving nature, which stems from the roots of hip-hop and the influence of one of the culture's foremost pioneers. "Afrika Bambaataa was playing all these different music genres, these records that are in different arenas right now," says Mike G. "All these records were in the same venue, all the hip-hop kids had an idea of what this music was. It wasn't how it is now where people have to feel alienated from other styles of music."
In manifesting these founding principles on wax, the Jungle Brothers are themselves responsible for highly influential hip-hop watermarks. Their perennial dance floor favourite "I'll House You," from their Straight Out of The Jungle debut, was produced by the now-infamous remixer Todd Terry, and launched the hybrid hip-house genre. The masterful aural collage of 1989's Done By the Forces of Nature heralded their pivotal role in the Afrocentric collective Native Tongues, which included De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest.
"I wanted to start something like what Bambaataa had started with the Zulu Nation, for a new generation," says Afrika. "Native Tongues were more like bohemians in the village; we had our own language. We acknowledged that hip-hop heritage of break dancing and graffiti, but our thing was more language art."
Despite relatively indifferent responses to the often discordant J Beez Wit' The Remedy and the minimalist approach of their post-hiatus effort Raw Deluxe, the group has retained their sense of fun and resolute commitment to confound expectations. "That's what makes Jungle Brothers, Jungle Brothers," says Afrika. "Without that we're just anybody. We could be pop flavour of the moment, but we don't wanna be that. We want to have substance."