“Can’t except drum and bass, we need jungle I’m afraid” – how University Challenge went viral on the rave scene

In an unexpected turn of events, BBC’s University Challenge has found its way into the music scene, with its new presenter Amol Rajan becoming an unwitting icon for DJs and music producers.

During an episode of the quiz show, Rajan, known for his journalistic prowess, sparked a viral sensation after he made a comment about a specific music genre. The question was about the dance music genre that evolved from the 1990s rave scene and reggae sound system culture. When the University of Aberdeen answered “drum’n’bass,” Rajan replied, “I can’t accept drum’n’bass – we need jungle, I’m afraid.”

This seemingly innocuous moment caught the attention of music producers and DJs alike, leading to Rajan’s unexpected rise to fame in the music scene. Nathan Filer, an author and researcher at Bath Spa University, shared the clip online, and as Rajan described it, “all hell broke loose.”

The response was overwhelming. Rajan found himself in the midst of a whirlwind of attention from DJs, record labels, and music fans. He described feeling “rather emotional” and reconnecting with his younger self as a result of the unexpected attention.

The clip of Rajan’s remark was quickly sampled by numerous musicians and music producers, leading to his newfound popularity in the music world. He has since been played on BBC Radio 1, invited to perform at festivals, and has even acquired what he describes as “a cult following in the jungle scene.”

Rajan, in a blog post for the BBC, revealed that he has embraced his newfound musical fame and is part of an emerging collective known as “D’n’BBC,” which includes Ros Atkins, the corporation’s news analysis editor and a former DJ. Rajan confessed his love for reggae and explained that jungle music has its roots in the culture of 1960s Jamaica, making it particularly meaningful to him.

But what exactly is the difference between drum’n’bass and jungle? Rajan explains that while there is an ongoing debate about where drum’n’bass ends and jungle begins, purists argue that jungle came first. Jungle music emerged as a blend of reggae and hardcore techno, popularized by pirate radio stations in London and Bristol.

In contrast, modern drum’n’bass has branched out into various sub-genres, ranging from laid-back vocal-led liquid funk to the more aggressive neuro bass and the energetic jump-up style featuring clattering breakbeats and Jamaican dancehall sounds.

While 1990s jungle tracks often featured samples from TV shows and movies, sampling has become more challenging due to numerous lawsuits and copyright claims. However, with Rajan’s unexpected foray into the music scene, DJs and producers have found inspiration in his words rather than in sampled sounds.

Rajan has been approached by well-known DJs to perform at their festivals, with leading drum’n’bass label Hospital Records even offering him a live performance opportunity. Reflecting on his unexpected musical journey, Rajan expressed gratitude for the precise use of the term “junglist revival” by Nathan Filer, and reiterated his stance: “I can’t accept drum’n’bass. We need jungle, I’m afraid.”