by george palladev

There’s probably no other drum and bass subgenre that provokes as much controversy and discussion as this one. Oldskul jump-up is the last jungle formation that existed during the period of division of the scene and died out by the time of its final bifurcation. After having a reincarnation at the beginning of 2000s, it remained a very mainstream version of jungle and drum and bass, in other words, music for the masses, a very understandable form for everyone who’s never heard about fast UK breakbeat rhythms.

  1. jungle
  2. drum ‘n’ bass
  3. hardstep

A Guy Called Gerald

Judging by the musical structure, jump-up came out of hardstep under the influence of various kinds of sound experiments, most importantly those with the bass line. In 1990, Gerald Simpson (aka A Guy Called Gerald) confessed to Echoes magazine: “The things you can do now with the right technology are amazing. I used to be restricted by just having one drum machine and a keyboard. Now as far as creativity goes there are no limits. Anything’s possible. This is just the start, you know what I mean?” As though the man who had a great influence on proto-jungle saw it in a crystal ball.

In 1994, the duo Dead Dred released the landmark record Dred bass, and so it was done. The track that starts with soft keyboard melodies is interrupted by several gunshots and the rapidly stoned soft rhythm begins. But the most important thing is the bass. Dead Dred played the bass line backwards, which caused everyone’s euphoria. At the time, it was a really fresh idea that opened up great creative opportunities.

Dead Dred — Dred bass 1994

Written by Lee Smith, Jason Ball
From Dred bass single, Moving Shadow

Andy C, who did so much for jungle and drum and bass and would appear many times in this article, recalled: “Dred bass has an interesting story behind it. I was out with Rob Playford—the boss of Moving Shadow Records—down at AWOL in 1994. It was about 6am and Kenny Ken came on. Dred bass was Kenny’s first tune, and it absolutely blew the place to bits. It was one of those moments that you don’t get so much nowadays, where you feel ‘I have never heard anything like that before.’ The atmosphere that the intro set up, and the reverse bass! Wow! It must have been on the first tunes ever to use that now-classic reverse-bass sound. Back in 1994 it was like, WTF?”

JB — ½ of Dead Dred duo

“Low and behold, later that week Rob Playford called me up and said ‘I have signed it—I have signed Dred bass to Moving shadow!’ I was like ‘you lucky bastard!’ jokingly. But a week later, Rob rang us up and said that he wanted a remix. It was amazing—we felt privileged, but I have to admit that it was a daunting task.”

“The funny thing about Dred bass is that it didn’t really drop at first", says JB. "We did the tune, gave the plate to a few local guys and it didn’t really take off at all. We were going to scrap it, but decided to give it a chance and see how it did. It ended up, selling 47 000 copies on Moving Shadow.”

It seems that the success and the new idea of Dred bass pushed other musicians if not to repeat the success of the track, then to go further. The duo created a fundamentally new kind of bass line, which became an inseparable attribute and a distinctive feature of jump-up. The name of the subgenre was taken from the dancefloor audience’s reaction—at the same time they started mixing jungle and hip hop and using long and slow intros. The audience couldn’t wait anymore and began to jump up. And when the drums started everybody jumped around. The hit of 1995 and 1996, as well as the most famous cooperation between hip hop and jungle and the anthem of oldskul jump-up, was Super Sharp Shooter.

DJ Zinc — Super sharp shooter 1996

Written by Benjamin Pettit
From Super sharp shooter EP, Parousia

DJ Zinc

The original Shooter was written in 1995 and was repeatedly re-released and re-mastered until the final version was created and the video with a black sprinter in a suit was made for it. (The success of the video was so phenomenal that it even got on MTV Europe.) It’s believed that it was DJ Zinc who set the fashion of using sampled rhyming, focusing his attention on hip hop (instead of ragga). The beginning of the track, where its title is spelled, for example, is a sample from LL Cool J’s It get‘s no ruffer made in 1989, and the base of the composition is an a capella by Method Man, a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, from Release yo' delf made in 1995. From now on, the use of rap became a feature that made jump-up different from other subgenres of jungle and drum and bass.

If you remember the theory of the genre, UK jungle was the answer to hip hop that appeared in the USA. And now,as you can imagine—the two genres went together perfectly. But it’s not really surprising—both are arrogantly defiant. As was said before, one of the features of jump-up is its distinctive playful gurgling bass. There are lots of words to describe it, but the one that characterises it is wobble. In a laboratory environment, such a bass is achieved by turning the grips of an oscillator, using the pitch effect as the base, and adding others by taste until the desired result is achieved. It’s also the street name of a strong drug, ketamine, which causes serious hallucinations. Wobble also refers to musical vibrations that are felt all over the body and force the dancer to move together with the rhythm. In the case of jump-up, practically all three versions suit it well.

Rude Bwoy Monty — Warp 9 Mr. Zulu 1995

Written by Rahman Herbert
From Warp 9 Mr. Zulu / Summer sumting single, Frontline Records

Shy FX — This style 1995

Written by Andre Williams
From This style single, SOUR

DJ Hype

After Shooter, another anthem was written, but this time a semi-underground one. DJ Zinc created a bootleg remix of one of the best-known songs by the Fugees, Ready or Not. Officially the remix, also called Fugees or Not, was never released but just went from hand to hand, cut many times into self-made records with a white label sticker and sometimes got onto different compilations such as Jungle Anthems. There is some confusion about who’s the author of the remix: some sources write that it was made by Hype, other says Zinc created it. There are also those who reconcile them with ampersand by writing ‘Hype & Zinc remix’. According to DJ Zinc himself he was the author of the remix while Hype helped him with the bass line.

DJ Zinc vs. Fugees — Ready or not 1996

Written by Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean
Vocal Lauryn Hill
Remixed by Benjamin Pettit

The veteran of jungle and UK hardcore scene doesn’t think that hip hop has some sort of special place in jungle and drum and bass and at the same time, hip hop doesn’t tend to use drum and bass elements everywhere. But for Hype this was the essence of UK breakbeat rhythms. He believes that drum and bass can complete anything but it doesn’t intersect with hip hop as much as with other genres. And this is the beauty of drum and bass—it can be mixed with anything you want: house, jazz, techno, ragga or hip hop. However, Hype admits that drum and bass got inside other music genres.

On the wave of unbelievable popularity, Hype closed Ganja Records and started a new label True Playaz as if talking about his friends (Zinc, Pascal, Hype) in the third person plural. Hype talked about changing musical directions, his desire to concentrate on jungle experiments; at the same time he wanted to make things for the masses without becoming an assembly line. The only things that didn’t change were a ganja leaf on the True Playaz logo and the possibility of working separately as well as in the creative group Ganja Cru. Ganja is marijuana, more precisely it means fibres of cannabis stem in Sanskrit. (The word jungle, by the way also comes from Sanskrit). It’s an homage to old romantic ragga times. The previous releases of Ganja Records had huge leaves in the middle of the vinyl disc. Now the times have changed and so did the design, which became more discreet. (There is a story that in a few countries there were problems with the distribution of releases because of the marijuana leaf on the Ganja Records logo. In True Playaz it’s covered with a huge label name.)

Shimon & Andy C. — Night flight 1996

Written by Shimon Alcoby, Andrew Clarke
From Quest / Night flight single, RAM Records

Remarc — R.I.P (DJ Hype remix) 1995

Written by Marc Forrester
Remixed by Kevin Ford
From R.I.P (Remixes) single, Suburban Base Records

The Dream Team — Stamina (Dred Bass remix) 1995

Written by Brian Johnson, Dean Vincent
Remixed by Jason Ball, Lee Smith
From Stamina (Remixes) single, Suburban Base Records


Another important and prominent person in jump-up is Aphrodite. More precisely the duo of Micky Finn and Aphrodite. Together, they participated in the formation of jungle and, when jungle became an autonomous phenomenon, they began to develop its subgenres and eventually acquired their style, together and separately. Aphrodite (aka Gavin King) is known for his unique deep sound of low-frequency bass. The listeners joke that the bass thing discovered by Gavin, which makes it difficult to confuse him with anyone else, travels from track to track. The strong point of this cooperation and of King personally were remixes, especially on hip hop artists or instrumental themes with a bit of rhyming.

He felt that these two genres completed each other but putting them together was never an easy task. The only problem is that it’s difficult for hip hop artists to rap to a furiously fast rhythm. This is why Gavin recommends not torturing MCs but instead letting them rap in a usual rhythm. The end result is normal hip hop, which is later put in the jungle environment.

Jungle Brothers — Jungle brother (Urban Takeover remix) 1997

Written by Nathaniel Hall, Michael Small
Remixed by Gavin King, Michael Hearn
From Jungle brother single, Gee Street

Amazon II — King of the beats 1996

Written by Gavin King, Tony B
From King of the beats / Music’s hypnotizing single, Aphrodite Recordings

Aphrodite was particularly interesting in Human Traffic, a film from reckless screenwriter and director Justin Kerrigan. In the scene in the musical shop, there’s a dialogue between Koop, the seller in a red Junglist Movement t-shirt and two customers who are, judging by their clothes, true junglists (the one in the silver coat is Kerrigan himself):

Aphrodite — Stalker 1999

Written by Gavin King
From Aphrodite album, Aphrodite Recordings

But this is already a postscript—tracks by the last players of the subgenre. By this time, jungle had left the scene a long time ago and, according to some listeners, had isolated itself by staying in the same place—there was nothing there apart from mixing jungle and hip hop. The golden time of jump-up was 1995—1997. Then, musicians started looking for new movements. The time had changed again, so did the preferences as well as the ‘father‘ of the subgenre. The icons of drum and bass culture sympathised with more serious movements and this is why clubs prefered to play techstep, which was already inevitably progressing into neurofunk.

  1. techstep

The careless time of oldskul jump-up was over, the new era had begun—as a result, after some hot fun, the cold shower was turned on and ‘The Darkside’ started to reign over the scene. Later, or, more precisely, during the new cycle of development of hard subgenres of drum and bass, jump-up came back but not in the guise in which the old masters and experienced listeners remembered it.

Nu jump-up

In September 2001, the Ram Records label released a record that turned the drum and bass scene upside down. Listeners have different opinions: there are those who hate it and those who truly adore it. Those who are indifferent almost don’t exist. Body rock increased the rumours and heavy talks among junglists about the imminent death of drum and bass or at least its fast degradation. It was strongly despised by purists and orthodoxies—the creation of Shimon and Andy C was so innovatively frightening. Frankly, there were reasons for the concerns of conservatives: firstly, Body rock resurrected an already forgotten wobble bass and not in its best (meaning serious) form. And secondly, the rhythm of the track wasn’t like anything previously created in drum and bass or jungle: it was based on the four-to-the-floor rhythm. So, it wasn’t two hits on every beat like in 2-step introduced to drum and bass by Alex Reece but four—before the release of Body rock making a steady rhythm in the UK breakbeat environment seemed impossible savagery.

Andy C.

“That record was literally stumbled upon”,—Andy C recalls. “Ant (Andy’s partner in the Original Unknown duo) had been doing some mad things with drum rolls on the computer, and out of that came the weird beats. A year later (in the studio) at about four in the morning, Shimon and me kind of rediscovered that vibe. We were working on Orient express at the time, but suddenly I was like ‘You know what Shim, let’s save this mix and go onto something else!’ This is at 4 am. So we loaded up that beat which we had made a year before. Four hours later, it was finished.”

Shimon & Andy C. — Body rock 2001

Written by Shimon Alcoby, Andrew Clarke
From Body rock single, RAM Records

“That tune was the one that took everybody by surprise,” stated Andy. “To sum up, I remember playing Body rock as my last tune at Homelands, a few years ago in 2001. Roni Size came up and rewound it two or three times. It was the last set of the night. I remember seeing daylight outside, and seeing many thousands of people going nuts. That was a beautiful memory—that will live me. […] I first played it out at Bar Rumba, the night after the Knowledge Awards. I had it on CD. I started and finished my set with it, and people were just running up going WTF. So then it was like, Ok, it work.”


“We have no idea what would happen with Body rock”,—laughs Shimon. “We just found beat that we’d done ages ago from an old tune and thought it’d be mad to use it. It’s actually a very simple tune but we didn’t think people would get it. We played it and the reaction was good so we stuck it out and it’s been great as it’s created a lot of space for us not to operate it. Generally now you can get away spinning a bit more anyway and it’s good that the scene generally has gotten away from the hardcore sound and that people are branching out more. It’s a right as a producer and a human being to be able to do that. It’s a right to be able to express yourself how you want”.

Moving Fusion — Lazy bones 2001

Written by Dan Sparham, Jeff Langton
From Thunderball / Lazy bones single, RAM Records

The support of colleges came quickly (as well as a crowd of epigones :-) As a joke, the duo Moving Fusion wrote a parody of Body rock and released it on the same label where Andy and Shimon had released their track. At the end of February 2002, Bad Company released the Spacehopper single. In the eyes of the astonished listeners, the RAM Records label looked like a collector of songs made with the same technology as Body rock, only by other minds, so with others’ handwriting.

“That tune was one of the most exciting things to happen in 2001," enthuses Bad Company’s Fresh. “Everything else that’s going on an all the other directions that have been happening are all good but they’re malgamations of things that have been done before. Body rock has opened people’s minds to using swing, which for a long time people have written off. There may end up being a million Body rocks’s around next year, but as long as it serves as a stepping stone to even more experimentation that’s got to be a good thing.” In an attempt to control the wobbling bass, a new term ‘clownstep’ was created. Being a feature of the Body rock track and all its analogous features, it quickly became offensive, reflecting the most vulgar and plain taste of its listeners.

Bad Company — Spacehopper 2002

Written by Dan Stein
From Spacehopper single, RAM Records

Keaton — the creator of clownstep term

The term clownstep is closely linked to the former shelter of Bad Company fans, which now became the biggest international drum and bass community Dogs on Acid. The legend says that the word clownstep was invented by the distinguished musician Keaton, popular in these circles. In one interview he recalled how it happened in detail: “When Body rock dropped, with the way that they programmed those drums with the kick on the three giving it a swing beat kind of feel, and I saw how ravers would dance around to it, I could just imagine, and don’t get me wrong I liked the tune, a load of clowns dancing around to it! So I was like yeah clown step! Since then me and my crew started using the term, and then Dylan who posts on Dogs On Acid quite a bit started using it, and ever since it’s just grown and grown. It really hit me when I was in Los Angeles and some girl said to me, ?have you heard that new clown step thing? I was just like what madness it’s gone worldwide! To be honest the whole thing, just gives me jokes. The term was never meant to be malicious; it was just my way of describing that beat pattern.”

On the night of Christmas Eve, 2001, Dylan wrote in the legendary topic on the Dogs on Acid forum, saying that listening to Body Rock and similar songs made him see a clown jumping in the circus with a klaxon in his hands. The public quickly responded with support. At noon on the same December 24, Dylan had published a quotation from Fresh, who was creating Spacehopper: “That’s the clownstep edits done, now i'm gonna add some twisted bass with my b-line horn... honk honk.”

Clownstep emoji
by icarerecordings

A year later, when the clownstep movement started to burn fully, the following question was asked on the same forum: does anyone want to create a killer-clown emoji? The artist was found immediately and he created the first version of the clownstep emoji with a party hat and a red wig. Then he was asked to add long clown shoes and this is how the legendary picture appeared and spread around the world to annoy all the haters, being the last argument in favour of music.

DJ Hazard — Rubber chicken 2003

Written by Scott Molloy
From No more games EP, True Playaz

Clipz — Kung Fu 2005

Written by Hugh Pescod
From Hold tight / Kung Fu single, Full Cycle Records


Lyptikal — Glock fear 2007

Written by Ryan Garthwaite
From Glock fear / Ultrafunkilla single, Load Recordings

The mass hysteria in the drum and bass community reached such an extent that the forum Dogs on Acid banned the term clownstep, confirming its status as offensive rather than describing the rhythmical figure. Moreover, now when there was such a term, the musicians who understood the etymology literally started making tracks where they pushed the sound to the extreme—now it wasn’t just about the drums and the wobbling bass line; there were also samples from cartoons, lines from characters, a squealing bass, sirens and a melody with really comical intonation. Listening to it creates a strong feeling of insane madness and something diabolic (clowns are the offspring of hell; you can actually get coulrophobia). As many rightly notice, clownstep is the happy hardcore of drum and bass.

The early stage of clownstep gave impetus to the development of nu skool jump-up. In 2003, the glorious subgenre, whose first version peaked in the mid-90s, came back. However, it should be noted that nu jump-up isn’t clownstep.

Total Science — Nosher (Baron’s I know a little spot remix) 2003

Written by Jason Greenhalgh, Paul Smith
Remixed by Piers Bailey
From Nosher (Baron VIP) / Safety Clause (Tango & Ratty remix) single, C.I.A

Distorted Minds — T-10 2003

Written by Jon Midwinter, Alistair Vickery
Perfomed by Jermaine Jacobs
From T-10 / The tenth planet single, Kaos Recordings

Perhaps if clownstep hadn’t mutated into music for children’s parties, it would have been the same as nu jump-up, but the latter took the best from original clownstep and moved on. The new form of jump-up has a provocatively wobbling bass (usually distorted). The rhythm is either traditional like in drum and bass or steady like in Body rock. Plus, there are a few samples, but usually restrained because most fun is put in the bass. As a result, the music is much heavier than oldskul jump-up with a more or less sane ambience. But there is one thing that unites the old and the new sound—jump-up has always been exceptionally joyful (positive) music with party tunes.


Pendulum — Vault 2003

Written by Paul Harding, Rob Swire, Gareth McGrillen
From Kingz of the rollers EP. Volume three compilation, 31 Recordings

Generation Dub — Pervert 2006

Written by Adam Tindill, Jake Carter
From Give it to me / Pervert single, Frontline Records

Anti-science jump-up poster

There has been a long discussion on what should be considered as clownstep and what should be considered as jump-up. The right position is probably seeing the subgenre development in three directions. When Body Rock was made, its drums were characterised with the word clownstep. The world saw hundreds and thousands of clones of the track that started the movement. The musicians who picked up the wobbling bass as a dropped flag brought jump-up back to the scene. At the same time, clownstep wasn’t the way it was at the times of Body rock anymore, it acquired all this makeup, a red nose, a party hat with a burdock-like wig in old forms. Linked to old skul jump-up, which created the wobbling bass, clownstep became a branch of nu skool jump-up and with all its sound received a pejorative colour in its own name. Thus, the term that wasn’t originally offensive with the help of other people became such in mass consciousness.

  1. artcore

Adam F, who’s known to many people from the artcore times, after releasing A brand new funk, decided to move to a completely different side of music. He crossed the ocean, met American hip hop elites and soon became one of the musicians to whom the rappers trusted their rhymings. In 2002, he opened a new label, Kaos Recordings. Kaos came from all the disorder of thoughts in his mind and of actions in his life in the previous few years during which he had created the new album Kaos: Anti-acoustic warfare that had no hint of his London background. In the same year, he gave all the material to the mercy of the UK breakbeat monsters, which led to the remix album Drum & Bass Warfare, where the combination of contemporary drum and bass and contemporary hip hop sounds especially good.

Drumsound & Simon ‘Bassline’ Smith — Killa DJ 2005

Written by Andy Wright, Simon Smith
From Killa DJ / Big tings single, Breakbeat Kaos

Future Prophecies — Dreadlock VIP 2007

Written by Richard Thomas, Tony Anthun
From The roof is on fire / Dreadlock VIP single, Breakbeat Kaos

DJ Fresh

After DJ Fresh left Bad Company, Adam and himself created out of the former Kaos a label called Breakbeat Kaos, which soon became the leader in terms of producing drum and bass of good quality and thanks to the huge sales he introduced the style to the widest masses. (New wave of drum and bass development.) Originally Australian trio Pendulum in 2003 became famous with their nu jump-up track Vault, which immediately became an anthem and, according to Knowledge magazine, created a new standard for the use of drums with a frequency of 200 hertz. Adam and Fresh took Pendulum under their wing and already in 2005 their album Hold your color became the bestselling album in drum and bass history and the group itself were now the most prominent artist of the scene. Thanks to the efforts of the Breakbeat Kaos label team, in the middle of 2000s, nu jump-up, together with liquid funk, became one of the profitable subgenres of drum and bass.

In drum and bass circles, many are concerned that there is a subgenre with an unhealthy cheerfulness, however clownstep, as with any new popular phenomenon, after a period of leadership, started losing its popularity. And nu jump-up in modern reality will live a long life, gradually transforming into something else.


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