The Characters of UK Jungle and Hardcore Records


by Joe Reilly

Looking through any crate of jungle and breakbeat hardcore records produced in the UK from the early 90’s, it's hard to miss the various characters inhabiting the centre labels and record sleeves. With their cap down, baggy jeans, fat trainers and occasionally stern demeanour, they illustrate a raw idea of the fashion, attitude and feelings that surrounded the music, in a way that other mediums not always can.

These often crudely hand-drawn caricatures of DJ’s and ravers are reminiscent of figures painted by some early hip-hop aligned US graffiti artists, but with a distinctive UK style. Their exaggerated nature gives heightened insight into the music and culture by echoing fashion tropes, facial expressions and body stances seen at the raves, record shops and recording studios.

Labels like Kikman, Kniteforce and Strictly Underground utilised these mascots at the forefront of their visual identity, creating DIY logos and record designs that have retained their iconic status years later. The characters serve as personalities that represent the music on the record or in the label’s catalog. However, this character style also appeared on related jungle and hardcore ephemera, including flyers, zines, magazine advertisements and merchandise as well as being adopted by some clothing brands popular with followers of the music at the time.

Below is a selection of the best, from well-known to one-off obscurities.

 

- Kikman Records
1992 - 1994

- Suburban Base Records Figure
est. 1991

 

Kniteforce Records Logo  est. 1993

- Kniteforce Records Logo
est. 1993

 

- Strictly Underground Records
Used from 1991 - 2000

- Devious D, DJ Deckjammer, Cool Hand Flex - Carnival Jungle Mix Vol 1 (Cassette)
Reel 2 Reel Productions, 1993

 

- Various Artists – PM Remixes EP
PM Recordings, 1992

- Origination - Breakdown (Remix) EP
Rudeboy Records, 1992

 

- Mystical - Dare EP 
Stooge Productions, 1993

 Silver Fox - Dread By Dawn EP
Three Scars Records, 1993

- Simon Harris - Paranoid Plastic Vol. 1 EP
Paranoid Recordings, 2010

- Si-La Featuring Papa Levi - Flashin Styles EP
Tumpin Recordings, 1992

 

- Dr S.Gachet Meets Funky Junky - Logans Run 12"
Funky Junky Records, 1992

 

- Lab-Tek - Dammed Nation EP
Vibe Alive Records, 1993

- Icon - Lost In The Darkness EP 
Ruff Guidance Records, 1992

- Gappa G & Hyper Hypa – Tears Of Joy EP
Ruff Kut! Records, 1993

- Shaka Boom - It's A Miracle 12"
Ruff Lick Records, 1992

- Various Artists - Straight From The Bedroom Vol. 1 EP
Straight From The Bedroom, 1993

- Pain of Dance - Hear No Evil 12"
Tone Def Records, 1992

 

- Dee Jay Recordings
1992 - 1997