Monday, February 3, 2014

Hip Hop Nostalgia 101, Session 25: Jungle Brothers - Straight Out The Jungle (1988)

The Jungle Brothers, consisting of DJ Sammy B, Mike Gee, and Afrika Baby Bam, can arguably be called the first members of what would be called the Native Tongues. This is their debut, also closing out the 1988 sessions.


Release date- November 8, 1988


All songs produced by the Jungle Brothers except #6



1. Straight Out The Jungle

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If I were asked about recommendations for the Jungle Brothers and which song you should start with, I would recommend this dope opener. They definitely let you know up front what they're about and what type of style they were bringing to hip hop at the time. The JBs may or may not have been the first hip hop artists to sample Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five's already classic "The Message".
Grade- A




2. What's Going On

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"Stay in school, don't be no fool/Don't loose your temper and keep your cool/Follow your heart and not your friends/Cause some of your friends could lead you into dead ends"


True words of wisdom right there from the JBs. They're asking the same question that Marvin Gaye asked in his hit song of the same title, along with the well placed sample to match. When it came to many of the issues at the time in 88, such as crime, education, or even life in general, Baby Bam and Mike Gee do a very good job bringing awareness to the people.
Grade- A




3. Black Is Black (Featuring Q-Tip)


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In addition to the debut of A Tribe Called Quest's own Q-Tip, he and the JBs uplift the black brothers and sisters in the most simplest way possible, and I mean that as NO shot to them. Afrocentric and straight to the point.
Grade- B+




4. Jimbrowski

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"WORD UP!!!!!"

"HERE WE GO!!!!!"


This is another song I would use if I was introducing someone to the JBs for the first time, straight classic. Not only do I like the way they utilized Parliament Funkadelic's "Good Old Music", but the audio samples courtesy of J.J. from the classic 70s sitcom "Good Times" make this one something to be heard ("Dynamite!" "the black prince has arrived"). 
Grade- A+




5. I'm Gonna Do You

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I know that LL Cool J's "I Need Love" set the standard for the hip hop ballad, making it possible for songs like this to exist. Then again, this isn't a ballad in that sense, but I like it because Baby Bam and Mike Gee are having fun on the track, telling the ladies "I'm gonna do ya!". The hook is hilarious too, as they sing "I'm gonna do ya, I'm gonna do ya, I'm gonna do ya, whoa whoa oohh whoa!" LOL.
Grade- B+




6. I'll House You
Produced By: Todd Terry

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While there weren't too many hip hop artists who tried to merge hip hop and house music after this, I certainly commend the JBs for trying something different at the time, and I feel it was more about doing something different as opposed to a blatant attempt at commercial success. The song itself would get a "B" from me, but I'll go ahead with an "A" due to the impact and trying out a new sound.
Grade- A



7. On The Run

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Naw, they're not on the run from the law/authorities, lol, but rather they had so much going on that they were essentially rippin and runnin everywhere, lol. Nice use of the Babe Ruth and Jimmy Caster Bunch samples too.
Grade- B




8. Behind The Bush

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The title may not have been the best in terms of "expressing love", but when you listen to this song, not only do they want to be as passionate as possible (in a hip hop way of course), but the object of their affections would be subject to such activities in Africa. How about that for a twist on things.
Grade- B



9. Because I Got It Like That


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This appropriately titled song and the one after it go hand in hand based on the titles and themes alone.
Grade- C+




10. Braggin & Boastin


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Braggin and boastin is exactly what they're doing on this song and then some.
Grade- B




11. Sounds Of The Safari


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Just a dope, break beat instrumental.



12. Jimmy's Bonus Beat

Another instrumental leads us into.....


13. The Promo (Featuring Q-Tip)

An interesting fact about this closer is it was included on the CD version of this album when it was released in 1990. In addition, Q-Tip shows up with another respectable guest appearance. They even mention here that they were already working on another album, which will be covered when we get to 1989.
Grade- A




This is truly the birth of the Native Tongues right here. With the JBs debut, there's a little something for everyone; house, hip hop, humor, bragging, boasting, knowledge, and wisdom, no question. Lyrically it was decent, but the production holds everything together. They seemingly took a page out of Ultramagnetic MCs' "Critical Beatdown", which saw multiple samples of classic break beats utilized effectively. Very good.


Final Grade- B+



And with that, the 1988 sessions have come to an end. This was such a groundbreaking, landmark, historic year for hip hop and things would only get bigger and better from here. The 1989 sessions will begin with Three Times Dope's "Original Stylin". Stay tuned!!!

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