Jungle Jam Summer Carnival
Friday 31st May
Mint Warehouse, Leeds
Einstein’s theory of relativity broadly states that everything is relative to everything else; that time and space are not universal constants but relevant building blocks that make up a larger relative whole, the major claim of this theory is that nothing is objectively timeless or large. Recent research however, has shown this theory to be fundamentally flawed and this is due to Einstein failing to factor in a significant spatio-mathematical constant that was painfully apparent to all who attended the Jungle Jam Summer Carnival: in its simplest form this is the fact that universally “JUNGLE IS MASSIVE”. Once again the organisers smashed it realising that you can always add jerk chicken, ice cream and UK hip hop to a good thing to make it better. Pure organic music with the amen break around every corner, another night of brilliance throwing two fingers up to the standard commercial whackness that has infected much of the Leeds dance scene.
Four Owls kicked the night off with an excellent set showcasing everything good in UK hip hop. The Four Owls (Fliptrix, Leaf Dog, Verb T and BVA Mc) are at the forefront of British hip hop’s rejuvenation and along with High Focus Records (which Fliptrix founded) are very much challenging the idea that hip hop is dead. The Four Owls work off each other excellently and the intelligence and breadth of their lyrics has become a trademark. Topic areas ranging from philosophy, happiness, drug abuse, the state of the music industry, originality and just generally being raw guys are all touched upon in a laid back lilting delivery of hard bars. The energy and high production value of their beats meant that this wasn’t the grumpy head bopping affair that many grime sets can turn into; instead the crowd got buzzed and jumping, spurred on massively by seeing all four of the owls clearly having a sick time bouncing behind the decks. Biggest tune of the night from these lads was definitely ‘Not Like Before’, such an ill beat and includes one of my favourite entrances on a beat ever by leaf dog: “man I only went to school to sell weed at lunch time”. ‘Life in The Balance’ and ‘Burning Vapour’ were another two monstrous tracks dropped. Ratings to Jungle Jam for the small piece of innovation in booking a hip hop act to warm up for a jungle night, it worked perfectly with Four Owls performing the foreplay for the crowd, metaphorically slipping on a bit of Marvin Gay and getting the crowd a glass of red wine in preparation for the energetic madness of the pounding drum and bass to come.
In one of the very few big names that Jungle Jam had yet to book this year they couldn’t have picked a more fitting DJ to kick off summer than Mr Sunshine, good vibes and just general awesomeness aka Congo Natty. I mean seriously Congo Natty is more jungle than drinking um bongo in the congo and smoking jazz cigarettes with the coco pops monkey whilst watching The Jungle Book. Rocking up in full Rastafari apparel the man looks like Bob Marley on decks if Bob Marley had decided that actually the message of peace, love, unity and jamming was best expressed through a filthy ragga set with mental bass-lines topped off with 90’s dancehall toasting. One of the many great things about Congo Natty sets is that you tend to get the entire congo natty crew with him for an all encompassing jungle experience; Nãnci and Phoebe accompanied the main man to add some powerful melody to the rebel MC’s deep voiced toasting. As usual Congo Natty dropped a nuts set of jungalism, effortlessly mixing between jumpy kick snares and lilting melodies perfectly exemplified by the titanic track that is ‘Get Ready’ made all the more bad ass for seeing the powerful vocals delivered live by Nãnci and Phoebe. Another moment of similarly outstanding lyrical versatility and power was seeing Nãnci and Phoebe’s ‘Notorious’ get dropped, getting the crowd singing along and skanking madly in equal measures. It was a massive set and respect as ever for sticking to vinyl, it makes everything ten times harder on decks when mixing and beat matching but as usual Congo Natty made it look child’s play, slicing and dicing through massive jungle anthems with effortless transition.
So many other artists killed it at the Jungle Jam Carnival it’s hard to do them all justice in the shortness of this review. Lady Chann smashed her set which included a live performance of the track she collaborated with La La and the Boo Ya on ‘Lioness’ which is pretty much an instant Jungle classic. Skeptical came hard as usual with that weird unique jungle/dubstep hybrid that I’ve only ever seen him manage to pull off. The experience of warped crunchy basslines distorted over slowed down dark aggressive drumlines was as trippily awesome as usual. He dropped one of my favourite tracks of the night in ‘Marka’ which is just impossible to classify in any genre other than “oh my days that’s the funky s***”. Northern scum’s set was as much fun as ever including an awesome drum and bass remix of ‘Come Around’ by Collie Buddz which I was hugely impressed by. Whoever was MC’ing for them also killed it managing to carry on bossing his lyrical delivery despite some random blonde chick getting lairy and trying to grab the mike off him. Audio active DJ’s in Room 2 were also dropping some fire, an impressive little dubstep set from James Little standing out especially. As always Jungle Jam nailed it on every level, kicking summer off to one hell of a start.
Review by William Gadsby Peet
Images courtesy of Dan Yates Photography