Jungle Brothers - Biography
Though eclipsed in fame by their fellow Native Tongues members Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, Jungle Brothers were the first out of the gate. They shared their peer’s social conscience and laid back jazz rap but their continued embrace of changing dance music styles seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back(pack).
Jungle Brothers were formed in 1986 by Brooklynite Nathaniel "Afrika Baby Bam" Hall and Harlem natives Michael "Mike Gee" Small and Sammy "DJ Sammy B" Burwell. The trio began their recording contract at Idler, an imprint of Warlock begun that same year as Warlock’s hip-hop imprint. Their first two releases were 1987’s "Because I Got it like that" and “Jimbrowski" b/w "Bragging and Boasting." At the same time, Idler began to release house music, especially that recorded by Todd Terry as Royal Party and Orange Lemon. A collaboration between Jungle Brothers and Terry resulted in the hip-house “I’ll House You” which was released in 1988. Their fusion of rap and dance hearkened back to the electro heyday, when artists like Mantronix, Man Parrish and above all, Afrika Bambaataa, seamlessly melded the two strains. However, by the late ‘80s, rap had grown increasingly preoccupied with machismo and the song inspired few followers, (although EPMD did record a similar collaboration with DJ doc the following year, “It’s Time to Party”).
Their full-length debut, Straight out the Jungle (1988 Warlock), was adventurous and imaginative. The following year, Afrika Bambaataa And The Soulsonic Force tapped them to guest on "Return To Planet Rock (The Second Coming)." Though still largely an underground phenomenon, Warner Brothers was interested enough to sing them and release Done by the Forces of Nature (1989 Warner Brothers), an album included in nearly every list of the best rap albums. One track, “Doin' Our Own Dang” included most of The Native Tongues, featuring Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and Queen Latifah. Tracks like "What U Waitin' For" and "U Make Me Sweat” showed their continued respect for good-time party rap.
The group next teamed with Bill Laswell and began recording an album tentatively titled Crazy Wisdom Masters. The results were far to experimental for Warner Brothers. The label insisted they re-record some of the tracks. When it finally saw the light of day, J Beez wit the Remedy (1993 Warner Brothers), was toned down considerably. It performed poorly and the trio were dropped. Four years passed before the release of the stripped-down Raw Deluxe (1997 Gee Street). After its release, DJ Sammy B left the group.
Alex Gifford of big beat group, Propellerheads, tapped the remaining duo to add vocals to "Take California (And Party)" and "You Want It Back.” Afterward, they continued their partnership for V.I.P. (2000 V2) which saw them incorporating house, jungle and big beat to their sound — too the horror of many of their fans. You in My Hut Now (2002 Sound Design) was released in Europe and distributed by XYZ. Most of the production was electronic, and produced once again by Todd Terry. A couple of months after its European release it came out in America with different artwork as All that we Do (2002 Jungle Brothers). In 2004, they teamed up with British producer Mr On on the track, "Breathe (Don't Stop)." 2005’s double-disc This is… the Jungle Brothers (2005 Nurture Records) previously released hits, rarities and remixes by the likes of The Wiseguys, Urban Takeover, Natural Born Chillers and Stereo MCs. Their most recent album, I Got U (2006 Rambling Records), was only released in Japan. The current status of the duo is in question. Baby Bam (now going by B.A.M.) has formed a new group, Pagan Society, with 2nenBladez and is producing an EP, Japan Rocket Jam, planned only for release in Japan.