This is something that flew under our radar, unfortunately: The Jungle Brothers, one of the tentpole groups of the Native Tongues rap clique in the late-’80s, early ’90s, along with De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Black Sheep, Queen Latifah and others, are reuniting tonight in New York. The group is playing at SOB’s, and is the group’s first appearance since their 2002 album, All That We Do. The group is performing alongside some of the Tongues tonight too, but according to an interview with Jungle Brother Mike G, things haven’t been so great between the groups since the ’90s.
DX: I think many people have taken it different ways because it is a movement that has its abstraction in expectations. I heard Dres blame himself and all of Native Tongues for not representing the unity proposed by the music saying Native Tongues literally didn’t really do enough together. Was there supposed to be something else done as Native Tongues aside from a tour?
Mike G: Once you get into a spotlight, once your talent is shown to the world, people are going to look up to you. Now you can accept it and do what you do. You can also say people look up to you and calculate your moves. Calculate them so that you always look good. You may calculate them so that the impression or the movement you’ve created continues or stays shining. It’s kind of the same deal here. In a sense, Dres is right. There’s a lot of things that we actually didn’t do together but coming from totally different areas, I mean, we were in high school together. Me, Q-Tip, Afrika and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. I was a senior, I was the one to graduate first. Tip, Afrika and Ali are the same [age]. They’re the [class of] ‘88’s, I’m the ‘87. In that sense Af and I are brothers, but your classmates are your brothers too. So maybe they had a friendship that I didn’t see. And Tip and Af have things between them so whatever it is, they are the only ones to answer it together. Also, back to what Dres said, in essence, we took the aspect of “Let’s continue to do what we do.” We saw what was going on but I guess we didn’t take it that seriously. Maybe the people hearing us and around us were taking it much more seriously. And that’s why it is what it is. You have people that def made it off the Native Tongue concept or the look of Jungle Brothers or the look of Tribe and De La. History is a good thing and all you can do is learn from it. You dwell on it too long you’re liable to make another mistake. That’s why I just keep trying to go forward. I know the things that happened and went on but I can’t dwell on it. I can only look at it as a lesson, move on and try to make things better in the future.
We could say Native tongues forever and ever whether a tour or a super collaboration is ever gonna come out, who knows. But if we have the ability as the Jungle Brothers to keep doing what we’re doing: continue making people happy with what we do I’m cool with that. If I’m gonna get a slice of the pie I’m straight. If I get the whole pie I’m liable not to eat it anyway.
The whole interview is pretty interesting, especially since you don’t think of De La having problems with Tribe, or the groups really having problems with each other. Check it out at HipHopDX.