Jungle Brothers - Doin' Our Own Dang

The 100 Best Rap Singles of 1990: Jungle Brothers

The Jungle Brothers may have been underrated in America, but they found a receptive audience in Europe, leading to two top-40 UK hits.

Jungle Brothers
“What ‘U’ Waitin’ ‘4’?”/”What ‘U’ Waitin’ ‘4’? (Jungle Fever Mix)”/”J. Beez Comin’ Through” (Warner Bros. Records)
Billboard chart position: Hot Rap Singles (#19)

Jungle Brothers
“Doin’ Our Own Dang (Do It to the JB’s Mix)”/”Doin’ Our Own Dang (Richie Fermie Mix)” (Warner Bros. Records)

The Jungle Brothers may be the most underrated act of their era. Afrika Baby Bam, Mike G and Sammy B helped form Native Tongues, were the first ones from that crew to score a record deal, and helped spark the hip-house fad with “I’ll House You,” their remake of Royal House’s “Can You Party?” But by 1990, they were largely ignored by hardcore rap fans, leading them to nurture more appreciative audiences in Europe.

That’s how a glossy house remix of “Doin’ Our Own Dang,” a key track from their 1989 album Done by the Forces of Nature, managed to peak at number 33 on the British singles chart — a feat that must have seemed unimaginable in their own country. Crafted by Ultimatum (who later found global pop fame as the Stereo MCs), the “Do It to the JB’s Mix” sounds impossibly bright and bittersweet. It has a verse from Baby Bam shouting out the UK soul vanguard like Loose Ends and Soul II Soul, a clear bid for clubbers’ favor. It also features the last appearance together of the original Native Tongues: by the following year, the collective splintered over ego and industry conflicts.

Meanwhile, another Nature single, “What ‘U’ Waitin’ 4,” bumps with a funky bottom. It also proved to be a smash in Britain, peaking at number 35. As Baby Bam and Mike G weave a story of a hot club night that builds to a fever pitch, the beat splits the difference between acid house and P-funk. It’s as if they’re asking us, America, what you waiting for?

Read more: The 100 Best Rap Singles of 1990


Lil Yachty, Let’s Start Here

Lil Yachty’s Let’s Start Here has earned notice for its decidedly space-y and vaporous tones, the result of a collaboration with Chairlift’s Patrick Wimberly, Jeremy “SadPony” Raisen and his brother Jeremiah (best known for work with Lizzo and Yves Tumor), and bassist Jacob Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Yachty aims for Gen-Z psychedelic fervor: think Travis Scott, Tame Impala, and Swae Lee’s Swaecation half of Rae Sremmurd’s SR3MM. On “The Black Seminole,” Diana Gordon squalls as if mimicking Clare Torry in Pink Floyd’s “The Great Gig in the Sky.” For “I’ve Officially Lost Vision,” Yachty harmonizes, “I did way too much drugs, I’ve been swimming in space.” Texturally, Let’s Start Here is ear candy. Who doesn’t love laconic, shoegaze-y guitars? But it also seems banal. Given groundwork laid by similar explorers such as Andre 3000 and Kid Cudi, Yachty doesn’t commit much of himself. The predominant theme in this Urban Outfitters-bound soundtrack is molly-tinged dream-pop euphoria and coy sentiments like, “Meanwhile/You’re done/Had a little too much fun/I cannot stop touching you” on “We Saw the Sun.” Early praise for Let’s Start Here from industry mandarins such as Questlove and Apple Music’s Ebro Darden may have prompted backlash from a segment of rap fandom that objects to any whiff of maximalist stench. But give Yachty credit: He knows how to assemble and sequence an hour of shambolic melodic charms, even if his dusted symphony feels more like a wispy breeze than a desert storm. Guest vocalists include Justine Skye, Fousheé, and Daniel Caesar. Other producers include Jam City and Magdalene Bay. Tory Lanez’s name is in the credits for “Paint the Sky.” Do with that information what you will. Quality Control/Motown Records.

Thes One, Farewell, My Friend

In an L.A. Times interview with Oliver Wang, Thes One described former group People Under the Stairs as defined by their “outsider-ness.” He and high-school friend Double K, who passed away in 2021, made music informed by a community of rare breaks, and that sense of not being the “cool kids” in L.A.’s turn-of-the-Aughts indie-rap scene inspired bristling, ornery raps, adding tension to the sunshine melodies. Yet time heals old grievances, and Farewell, My Friend, a tribute to Double K, is unabashedly soft and yearning. The filtered jazz-funk loop on “Young Mike and Chris Floating Free” and the disco breeze of “Mike and Chris Leave for Their First Tour” are rendered in a nostalgic glow for those halcyon years. Musically, they’re a reminder of how crucial Thes One’s sound has been to the “chill hop” aesthetic, and why he deserves to be mentioned with more celebrated beat makers like Fat Jon and Nujabes. Sequenced like a tone poem, Farewell, My Friend is nevertheless familiar territory for Thes; even as he put out PUTS albums, he also issued instrumental projects like 2007’s Lifestyle Marketing. Double K’s edgy yet good-natured thug-isms are missed. The album includes contributions from keyboardist Kat010 and bassist Headnodic, both formerly with Bay Area group Crown City Rockers; drummer Paul Caruso, and guitarist Saint Ezekiel. Their musicianship take center stage on the second half of the album, particularly “The Bell Tolls for People Under the Stairs” and “Survivor Syndrome.” Thes One released Farewell, My Friend on his label, Piecelock 70.