In case you’ve not noticed, or have been enjoying a really nice long sleep, dubstep craftsman and Artikal bossman J:Kenzo has been partial to cheeky bit of jungle drum & bass in recent years.
As a fan he’s been a junglist since he joined the movement in his early teens. But as a producer, we need to go back to 2015 with his debut 160 release on Doc Scott’s 31: Rum Punch / Airwalk. Since then he’s casually dropped a stealthy slew of uptempo trips; Skatta and Alight on Om Unit’s Cosmic Bridge and a return to 31 with a selection of junglised workouts: Sykura and Assemble in 2017 and, as of last week, Vice and Kotoku-in (with a devilish Rum Punch VIP thrown in for good measure). Bringing all the weight, space and mood from 140 to D&B, Kenzo’s hit the nail on the head so accurately you begin to wonder if the J in his name actually stands for Jungle.
“It’s all on the same vibe, just different tempos,” says Kenzo. “It’s nice to go back to my roots and make real solid drum & bass and take on the era that brought me in; Krust, Trace, Ed Rush & Optical, Prototype releases, No U Turn. This release, and every release I’ve done, exists because of all my inspirations. It’s nice to have the freedom to play around at this tempo and to know people are feeling it and have Scotty supporting and releasing it means so much to me.”
For more jungle inspirations, we asked Kenzo for some of his favourite 12”s from one of the most game changing eras in bass music. “These records made me. It’s nice to be able to share that side of my musical make up,” he explains. “Just a shame I couldn’t do a top 30 or 50.”
Tune in for part two and three in the future…
Berty B & Dillinja – Lion Heart (Lion Heart, 1994)
A stone cold killer, this captures everything jungle music is for me. The killer 808 bassline along with the devastating amen and teases of Barrington Levy. From the first time I heard this tune I was hooked. A vintage Dillinja cut.
Deep Blue – Helicopter Tune (Moving Shadow, 1993)
The original skanker. Still playing this one in my sets now. I cannot believe it was made in 1993. The roll of the Sesame Street break (which is my favourite jungle break) the pads, the bassline, the percussion the bird sample; it always made me feel like I was deep in the jungle. Love this tune.
Dillinja – Deadly Deep Subs (Remix) (Deadly, 1994)
One of the darkest tracks I’ve ever heard, the samples in this have been used to perfection. This track single handily has inspired many of my productions over the years. The bleeps, the breaks and that brutal distorted bassline. Straight fire!
The Truper – Street Beats Vol 2 (side A) (Street Beats, 1994)
The sound of Photek under his Truper alias. I remember hearing this on my mate’s copy of Coldcut’s Journeys By DJ mixtape and trying to find out who it was made by. I searched through CDs in my local Our Price record store to get the title. This tune was rare as they come and could not find a copy for love nor money… But finally am a proud owner. It’s all about the 808 bass once again, the shuffling break and the flute sample. Photek gold!
DJ Rus De Tox – Heavenly Body (Subliminal, 1994)
One of the best ragga jungle tunes from back in the day. The rare groove sample brings back so many memories. As they would have said back in the day ‘a ladies tune’. Good time vibes.
Tom & Jerry – Maxi(mun) Style (Tom & Jerry, 1994)
Jungle Mania ’94 was one of the biggest Jungle compilation’s at the time. Everyone I knew had the Cassette or CD and this track was one of the highlights. A blissful rare groove sample intro into one of the ultimate Jungle tracks ever made. Listening back to this now as a producer it is so original, so cut up and disjointed in a good way of course (the genius use of that ragga sample half way through!). Looking back you can see that the Tom & Jerry sound dominated and was as a blueprint for these kind of Jungle tunes.
Aquarius – Aquatic (Good Looking, 1993)
Photek once again under another alias Aquarius. I remember first hearing this on a Bukem and Conrad Dreamscape cassette. The emotion that seeps out of this still gets me to this day, an absolutely beautiful piece of music.
Krust – Jazz Note (V Recordings, 1994)
Killer Krust, nothing sounded like this and nothing ever will sound so authentic. So many flavours… Jazz, soul and funk rolled into a piece of Jungle gold.
Roni Size & DJ Die – Music Box (Full Cycle, 1994)
This is another track that eluded me for many years. The true form of a Bristol roller. If you’ve ever heard this on a soundsystem you’ll know all about that swooping bassline. The breaks the samples, pure rolling funk.
Rogue Unit – Dance Of The Sarooes (Labello Blanco, 1994)
The don Steve Gurley pre-garage days under his Rogue Unit alias. A spine tingling emotional ride, euphoric, soulful and uplifting. I can’t recall to many DJs paying this back in the day but just like the label Labello Blanco for me it is a classic piece of jungle wax.
Cool Hand Flex – Melody Madness (In Touch, 1994)
Absolute fire, the 80s soul and ragga samples, percussion, breaks and use of the ‘terrorist’ reece bass. An AWOL and Roast classic.
Splash – Babylon (Dee Jay Recordings, 1995)
This one is loved by many a jungle head including myself. From the emotional pads in the intro switching into the brutal amen chops and 808 bass followed by the siren. The use of the timeless ‘Babylon shall fall’ sample. If you listen to this track from start to finish it is always evolving, switching up the break and bassline. I remember this one so well from the AWOL album back in 1995.