Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's a Jungle out there

Opening for the rapper-of-the-moment at a hollowed-out former restaurant, The Jungle Brothers weren't at the height of their career when they appeared on Wavelength. After three albums, the pioneering rap group seemed to have its best days behind them. The days when they created an urban music hybrid, hip-house. The days when they made black medallions as popular as gold chains. The days when they made being yourself cool.

Those were the days.

It was January of 1997 when we met them. The Jungle Brothers were promoting their new album "Raw Deluxe," on Gee Street Records. The album would be poorly received and I still haven't gotten around to listening to it. Years later, the brothers have carved out niche in dance music scene and seems to be doing well with their record sales in the european market.

There's still some rumble in the jungle, however, as Afrika has recorded a track dissing some of the more prominent members of the defunct Native Tongue movement. Mike G can be heard on the Nas "Where Are They Now?" remix.

CRAIG: Yo, what's up, my name is Craig and I'm here with – the Jungle, the Jungle, the Brothers, the Brothers.

JBS: Yo, yo. What's up?

CRAIG: Let's get everybody's name real quick.

MIKE G: Mike G in the House

CRAIG: Dready Bear.

AFRIKA: Afrika, right here, What' goin on? People in Vee Ayy whatchadoin'?

CRAIG: Who's that layin' in the cut right there?

AFRIKA: Ah .. That's Sweet Daddy.

SAMMY B: Sweet Daddy, Sammy B from the Boogie Down, Jungle Brothers.

CRAIG: It's been a while since you guys have been on tour or had a record out. Whatchu you guys been doin'?

AFRIKA: Right now, we got a single out called "How You Want It, I Got It." We were just travelin' to Vee Ayy area, talkin' to people through the radio, goin' to record stores, signin' autographs ... Lettin' the people that's been showin' us love all these years meet us in person and givin' 'em back that love.

CRAIG: You talk about years. How many years has it been?

AFRIKA: It's been ten years, man.

CRAIG: Ten years. And now you're on your fourth album on your third record label ...


CRAIG: Explain to me what happened with the record labels.

AFRIKA: Actually, our first record was one the same label that this fourth one is on. So it's really been like ....

CRAIG: So you've come full circle?

AFRIKA: Full circle, yeah.

CRAIG: Mike, what is a Jungle Brothers show like? What do you do on-stage?

MIKE G: We just give the basics of hip hop. We got Sweet Daddy rockin' the one and two's, the turntables. Afrika and myself, we are the MCs, masters of the ceremony, keep the party amped and everbody swayin' and feelin' the good vibe. Runnin' through the hits ... JBs Comin' Through, Straight out the Jungle, I'll House You, I got it like that, I'm a Do Ya.

CRAIG: How have you changed over the years? A lot of rappers stay out for too long and try to catch up too quick and it doesn't work. So what have you guys done.

MIKE G: The mental is still the same. We just upgraded the production. The brothers be family men, now. We just keepin' it live.

CRAIG: Yeah. So what's up with the Native Tongue, I hear it's back in effect.

AFRIKA: Yeah, we try to bring the people's that Native Tongue flavor. We remixed the first single and put De La and Tribe on it, so we could get that Native Tongue flavor back out there let people know we still together as a unit.

CRAIG: So Afrika, on the new album, y'all gonna talk about Versace, watches, gold chains and mafioso stuff, huh?

AFRIKA: Nah. The mentality's still the same like on the first album. Positive messages. The brothers is comin' back more mature this album. It's more like groove oriented. Buy ya tape, put it in your car and have a nice little free ride with the Jungle Brothers, you know what I'm sayin'? Laid back beats, nice lyrics.

CRAIG: Who did the production?

AFRIKA: Jungle Brothers did production. Mike, Sam, Afrika, we all chipped in and put beats together. Another brother by the name of Gingy Brown did two songs. He's comin' up. He did some stuff for Supanatural, for all the underground heads out there that know him. D.J. Roc Raider he did the first single.

CRAIG: You said you did a cut with The Roots also?

AFRIKA: Yeah, we just put the icin' on the cake with The Roots. They blessed us.

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