On this day in Hip Hop history, the Jungle Brothers released their debut LP Straight Out the Jungle. As the first project of the illustrious Native Tongues collective, other members include De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and Black Sheep, this album opened the door for a new type of conscious rap. With their Afrocentric influence and sample-heavy production, the Jungle Brothers were able to create a unique sound in a saturated New York Hip Hop scene.
Coming at the end of the gold roped, tracksuited and Kangol Golden Age of Hip Hop this album ushered in a new era. Through a new style of sampling and almost no regard to the flamboyancy of mid-80’s rap, this album became a true trailblazer. The trio’s adventurous take on Hip Hop led to them exploring otherwise uncharted waters. Their jazz and house influence created a new lane for Hip Hop crossovers left behind by Def Jam’s obsession with rap-rock. The group’s lyrics were also a healthy and needed change to the genre. Prior to its release, rap was mostly dominated by MC’s rapping about how much better they could rap than everyone else. The Jungle Brothers came with bars to enrich the mind and soul of their listeners rather than stroke their own ego. Songs like “Straight Out of The Jungle” and “Black is Back” were some of the first rap songs with an overtly pro-Black message.
Commercially, the album was a quiet success, peaking at only #39 on the Billboard 200. Critically, however, this album was highly regarded as a new beginning for Hip Hop. Publications across the board hailed this album as a fresh take on rap as a whole. This album kicked off a new counter-culture in Hip Hop. Fans began to leave behind their flashy get-ups for dashikis and leather African pendents fueled by a new sense of blackness and cultural pride. Thanks to the Jungle Brothers and their debut, the early ’90s became the Hip Hop equivalent to the late ’60s of rock ‘n’ roll.