It's easy to blame The Man. Joblessness. Prejudice. Michael Bolton covering "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay." Yet few things were more cause for alarm than the self-destruction of jungle. What once began as an infuriated call to arms to take back a piece of dance culture that they once helped create, the British black underground saw such an extraordinary and deeply innovative new genre saturating the clubs, being name checked in every "credible" pop band's interview, and then quickly shuffled off into Nike ads. They should've known that The Man likes to assimilate. Indeed, with drum'n'bass in such pseudo-intellectual dire straits (helped put there, ironically enough, by Reprazent's own New Forms), it was a fine time for an album like In the Mode to have its say. And Reprazent, at least, are saying they've had enough.
The level of punk fury and torrential modernization is high all throughout this record. "In and Out" with its accelerated heartbeat, "Ghetto Celebrity" with its raucous Method Man cameo, "In the Tune of the Sound" with Rahzel's stellar beat-boxing: The jumpy uppercuts of rhymes and pounding polyrhythms seem to reach the very limits of jungle's schizophrenia. Not that this is an embarrassment of darkcore efforts. As in "Out of the Game," the wrath of this album is not so much political, not so much in creating heavy soundscapes, it's conveyed more in a harder, live-sounding blast of back to basics hip-hop roots. Remember that rush you felt when you first heard your first drum'n'bass track? So do Reprazent, and they build the album to such a pitch that one can only assume that this is what it sounds like when a genre reclaims its importance.
Undoubtedly, hardcore jungleists will scoff at such a high-profile, sometimes flashy presentation of drum'n'bass ethics, but this is an album full of such militant energy that it deserves to be seen as one of the strongest saving graces of jungle in years. Reprazent sounds like a band trying to make jungle's sonic equivalent to the mutinous Xtrmntr. Except instead of fighting for "civil disobedience," they seem intent in shooting down every head-nodding, spec-wearing disaster their chosen genre has created. Can you still blame The Man? Sure. But only if you admit that an album of this dimension would never have existed unless jungle was first brutally sentenced to death.