Jungle: Rappers Shine In The Slick Hood Musical
19 Oct 2022
One split decision can change everything, with things get bleak in the jungle literally and figuratively quickly. Amazon Prime’s new intertwining six-part drama gives viewers a fly-on-the-wall look at the lives of young men and women trapped in a life of crime, danger, and paranoia.
Released on September 30th, creators, Junior Okoli & Chas Appeti, who make up the production company, Nothing Lost, provide us with aesthetically-pleasing cinematography — mildly detaching from the usual estate-filled and bleak backdrops we are used to seeing in these productions.
Set in a dystopian, neon-lit, futuristic London, we follow Gogo (Ezra Elliott) in the first three episodes, a young father-to-be embroiled in a life of crime and seeking a fast way out to move abroad with his girlfriend, Jessica. He, alongside his intimidating partner in crime, Slim (R.A), embark on their eventual last robbery, inevitably going wrong.
Rule #1 in any robbery from all the movies and shows I have watched, avoid bringing your phone or anything that could identify you, the fatal mistake Gogo made. Aimer (Matt Young), their target, saw Gogo’s phone drop to the floor, displaying an incoming call from his partner and a selfie of the two. Acting on impulse, Aimer would seal his fate in one breath. He says, “Yo, Gogo. I’ll see you around, yeah?” Of course, Gogo was outraged and commenced to deny his identity, but the intimidating Slim had something much worse in mind. The foreboding shot of Slim slowly putting his Black shades on would be him licking the envelope that sealed Aimer’s gory fate. A loose end tied, but at what cost?
Gogo, overcome with guilt after the events, pours out emotion to Slim during the aftermath. Cue the artistic and bold twist. The dialogue diverts into hard-hitting rap. The storytelling exhibited in drill and rap may have been a dealbreaker for the artists signed up to the series. It was somewhat refreshing witnessing rappers in a different element – rather than putting on their default straight-faced look similar to their videos, their versatility and eagerness to shine in their roles makes their performances believable. The vengeful 6ix (M24), Aimer’s brother, Marcus (Poundz) and Stacks (K Koke) are a few of many artists that play a role – not just a cameo – but pivotal characters. Keeping its authenticity through, most of the lyrics sprayed are on a jumpy drill beat, with the usual boisterous, energetic and gritty lines we hear on a drill track. Despite this and the male characters surrounded by masculinity, there are still signs of vulnerability that most men try to hide, common today with the amount of peer pressure many feel.
The recipe it uses is similar to Top Boy, adding artists to the cast and giving us a relatable showing of inner-city London and the impact of going down the wrong path has on many. Unknown T, Amaria Bb and Bandokay also play a part in the hood musical-esque drama. Okoli and Appeti have possibly created something that will further provide credibility to Black directors, producers and writers that want to delve into the same genre of TV and film. The pace was set by Andrew “Rapman” Onwubolu, with the offering up of the acclaimed YouTube series, Shiro’s Story in 2018.
Coincidentally though, R.A is not a stranger to this format, curating his very own Jungle-esque short dramas in the past with, The Convo, on YouTube — featuring various artists — all shining individually.
The last three episodes were filled with remorse, realisation and revenge, with MC, Poundz, playing the role of the protagonist, Marcus. Raised in a dysfunctional household by a drug-addicted mother, he had to fend for himself and his peer-pressured younger brother, Danial. As a first-time actor, Poundz was more than bearable on-screen, showing an effortless connection with his short-winded love interest, Bianca (Amaria Bb).
Without spoiling the ending, expect eye-opening twists and unfortunate events from start to finish. The hood drama genre has slowly been rising, and the tenancy Top Boy has on Netflix and Jungle on Amazon Prime, we’re now seeing a long-awaited acceptance for shows starring Black actors and storylines that resonate with its audience.
Jungle is now streaming on Amazon Prime. You won’t want to miss how the tales in the mad city unravel. Sit back and be transported. Remember, it’s a jungle out there.
Words by John-Mark Collymore