A DJ Guide To Black Dance Music Classics — From Chicago House To New Jersey Club

As Beyoncé and Drake release dance albums, here's a classic guide to black dance music subgenres, from Chicago house to Baltimore club.

When Beyoncé and Drake released their own dance albums – Renaissance and Honestly, Nevermind – there was a resurgence of interest in mainstream dance music. References to various black dance subgenres can be heard in their projects, especially references to the four subgenres that are black pioneers: Chicago house, Detroit techno, and New Jersey and New Jersey club. Baltimore.

While there are other dance music subgenres that remain black (Miami bass, New Orleans beats), recent releases by Bey and Drake have highlighted these four. And while it's nice to see them recognized by two of pop's biggest stars, that doesn't mean those sounds haven't always existed, especially in the towns where they were born. From Chicago to Baltimore, you'll always hear old and new DJs playing classic and contemporary hits from their respective dance subgenres.

In the second half of 2022, black dance music has become mainstream again, so we spoke to DJs in Chicago, Detroit, New Jersey and Baltimore about their cities' dance classics and how they think their scenes' dance has changed since the beginning. This is a guide to Chicago House, Detroit techno, and New Jersey and Baltimore club classics.

chicago house

"The roots of what is now known as house music can be traced back to dance floor songs created at places like The Loft, The Gallery and Paradise Garage [NYC] and later The Warehouse [Chicago]" - longtime Chicago DJ Ron Trent. explained by email. "The godfather of R&B, what we know today as disco, is the godfather of house music and hip hop (disco rap)."

However, according to Trent, he became instrumental in Chicago house music thanks to the late Frankie Knuckles. Bringing his New York style of dance to Chicago, specifically to the legendary Warehouse club, Knuckles started a movement that is still part of the city and has never left.

“I think it's important to note that while black speech in house music is commonplace today, it has always been commonplace in Chicago,” Ray Chardonnay, also a Chicago-based DJ, said in an email. “We never stopped doing interviews, we never stopped creating places to celebrate, we never stopped making house music and contributing to its culture. Examples of your favorite house music, and especially your favorite Chicago artists, almost always include what could be considered a house song in their recordings.

"Young black and brown people are really wearing house music today, like they were in the beginning," he added. "I want people to know that house music is black queer trance. Lean forward."

When it comes to DJs choosing classic house tracks, some point to how the disco sound gave way to danceable genres like house, as in MFSB's "Love is the Message," while others focus more on the soul sound that became a genre has. . definition as "Your Love" by Jamie Princip, selected by Ron Trent and fellow DJ Duane Powell. - Melissa Kimble

DJ Ron Trent

"Love is the message" MFSB.

Released in 1973, "Love is the Message" became a huge anthem at The Loft with DJ David Mancuso and later at The Gallery with DJ Nicky Ciano. This song in particular helped encapsulate the sense of story that came from the DJ booth to the dance floor. This Gamble and Huff Philly International production captures the purest energy of how and why dance culture began to date. The orchestration is avant-garde, and the rhythm section and heavy bass have a special charm. This album lifted the culture and shaped the consciousness that made way for a new sound.

"Your Love" by Jamie Princip.

"Your Love" is the essence of early house music. Produced by Jamie Princip and later released on the famous Trax Records, this track became an underground classic years before it was released to the public. You will only hear this song if you come to hear Frankie Knuckles play The Power Plant at his club. It was very alternative, but moving. The bass line was unforgettable. The great art and feeling of a visible and honest world was about to begin.

DJ Ray Chardonnay

"Brighter Days" (underground mix) by Kaimere and Dajae.

It hits the mark with structure and doesn't focus on the vocals dominating it, using the vocals as an instrument, part of the track. Dajae never fails to deliver rich gospel vocals that add dimension to any song.

"You Loved Me" by Ralphi Rosario and Xavier Gold

This track addresses the beginnings of hip hop unlike the other Chicago classics. I know Xavera sang, but he also rapped. It goes with the drums on the album and everything Ralphie does for me on that track.

Duane Powell

"Your Love" by Jamie Princip.

For me, Jamie's music is synonymous with house. People think that house music was born from the ashes of the funk/disco era, but that's not true. The album has house influences, but not the only ones. Jamie's sound was a mix of everything: house has a bit of electronica and a bit of industrial too.

"French Kiss" Lil Louie

Lil Louis was one of the first house artists to sign to a major label, and "French Kiss" changed people's idea of ​​what was possible in house music forever.

Detroit Techno

Techno has gone through so many iterations, factions and eras since it originated in the Belleville neighborhood of Detroit in the 80s. The genre has come a long way from the sound of pioneering electro/techno duos like Cybotron; Remember the song "Loss of Control" by Missy Elliott and Ciara? Well, it was built on a sample of Cybotron's classic "Clear" and today you can still find a great techno set in town on any given weekend.

Techno is so ingrained in the city that Detroiters may not even realize that it doesn't sound like it at every backyard barbecue or downtown party. This bass, this beat, this energy, this tension? It's techno, and techno is definitely a genre that originated in Detroit. Techno creators and fans were young, black and gay. It is made for people who can handle multiple time slots at the same time. Although mainstream white audiences and producers talked about electronic music, it all started with techno.

We've entered an era where music is easier than ever to find, follow and explore, so the next generation of queer black DJs, music lovers and party goers can know exactly where their music is coming from. favorite. The beauty of being in Detroit, where so much of black music history took place, is that it promises and challenges to create something new. The group of local black DJs below - DJ Etta, DJ Father Dukes and DJ Auntie Chanel - are doing just that, and they've shared some of their favorite techno tracks that epitomize the sound of the genre, as well as tracks from the genre. .. . It was also a time that was part of the creation of techno. - Imani Mixon


"I Feel the Love" by Donna Summer.

“Because they feared them, they plotted to destroy them. » Tygapaw

[These songs] are the base and the future. Love, patience and everything else.

dj pa dukes

Bells by Jeff Mills

Black Manta Corps by Huey Mnemonic and D. Strange

For this selection, I chose the classics and something new, which I think speaks to the strength of Detroit's electronic music scene and the fact that the city has such strong historical roots, which are constantly shaping the future of the genre. I'm always excited to be part of a new generation of DJs playing your favorite producer at your local coffee shop or wherever new records hit the stores. There is nothing better than immersing yourself in the music scene.

dj aunt chanel

"AUX Mind" (Egyptian Lover Remix) by Aux88.

"The Art of the Hunt" Suburban Knight

I like mixing heavy techno bass with industrial music. Detroit, black culture and goth are important parts of my identity. I try to make my choices reflect that.

New Jersey club

Formed in Newark, New Jersey in the early '80s, the Jersey club sound has stylistic roots in garage house, deep house, soul and gospel. DJs like DJ Kerri Chandler and DJ Tony Humphries pioneered the sound that spawned Aly-Us' deep house classic "Follow Me," but in the late '90s and early 2000s, the Silk Jersey became popular in the Baltimore Club Juke, a Miami subgenre. the electronic club became Bass and House. A hybrid of house and hip hop created by DJ Tameil and DJ Tim Dolla, the Jersey Club kicked off the music, and the Brick Bandits helped turn sound into movement.

DJs Thamail and Tim Dolla, who began recording club music CDs sold on Broad Street in Newark, created popular mixes of club and house music on the dance floors of East Orange, Irvington and Newark, as well as in ice rinks. Like skating at Branch Brook Park in Newark. These safe spaces created an inspiring musical progression that has continued to evolve into a sound of its own thanks to young producer-DJs such as DJ Jayhood, R3LL, Nadus, DJ Sliink and DJ Fresh.

The Jersey Club was instrumental in bringing experimental dance music into the mainstream, but today's New Jersey DJs like DJ Fade, Kia BHN and Unicorn continue to champion and redefine the subgenre, playing classics and defining new tunes. Here are the New Jersey club options. - Kia Turner

melted dj

"Tip Toe" by DJ Frosty and DJ Fade.

Just this album taught kids to dance and went viral on MySpace. WIZTV was Jersey's Tik Tok platform at the time and this music video was a lesson in how to dance properly.

"Back It Up" by DJ Jayhood

DJ Jayhood's discography is one of the largest in Jersey club history. "Back It Up" was influenced by the Jersey club scene of the "Booty Bounce" era.


"Shake Dat Donk" by DJ Flawless, DJ Jayhood and Nook

One of the most famous songs from the Jersey club culture and DJ Jayhood's discography. Along with "Back It Up", "Shake Dat Donk" influenced the "Booty Bounce" era.

"Salnitsa" DJ Big O

Fire production. It's a song everyone can dance to. With "what what" in the background, the Ying-Yang Twins' "Salt Shaker" chorus and that beat, it has all the hallmarks of a successful Jersey club.


"Heartbroken" by DJ Jayhood

It is Jersey's first club record and has been remixed many times and has been embraced by the hip-hop mainstream as an introduction to the Jersey club sound. Eternal classic.

Ride That Wave by DJ Frosty

One of Jersey's most famous club songs. The remix also featured Fatman Scoop, Young B and DJ Webstar. This album could have been what "Swag Surf" is if it was filmed right.

baltimore club

Before the fateful march of club music on the Jersey Turnpike in the mid-Atlantic, the first vestiges of satellite houses began to appear.

Founded by local producers Scotty B, Frank Ski and DJ Technik, the Baltimore club was the first East Coast experiment in dance music based on synths and samples from Chicago and Detroit. Lively, subversive and hypnotically symmetrical, the Baltimore club combined the frequencies of state clubs and ponds, fusing the incredible BPM of Miami bass, the magical boom of Chicago house and the brutality of British cue raves, high octane. In its initial form, Baltimore's regional sound resembled a hip house sound, perhaps the missing link between the golden age of party rap records and the brief (but mighty) dance chart boom of the mid-'90s. Lynn Collins' signature breakdown of James Brown's hit "Think" is instantly recognisable.

Although the addition of Jersey and Philadelphia is the latest pop, you have to go through I-95 to understand the history of modern dance music. We spoke to several Baltimore DJs, hip club kids and producers about the sounds that shaped their rhythmic journey. - Go

Abdou Ali

"How you want to wear it" Miss Tony

Miss Tony is a club icon in Baltimore. They were an important figure in urban culture and one of my musical heroes. It's a blessing to have a black queer icon as an up and coming role model and this song with Miss Tony is one of my favorites.

"Feel It in the Air" by Blackstar

To be honest, the entire Blaqstar discography is a model for my musical creativity, but this song really is. She is a witty charmer, and even though she is laconic, I know exactly what kind of energy she has.

Al Rogers Jr.

"Best Friend" Lil Lucky.

"Bestfriend" is one of those club songs you've heard more on 92Q than in the club, but it's still a classic partly because of its rarity. It is definitely one of those values ​​that is overlooked.

"Dance My Pain Away" by Rod Lee.

"Dance My Pain Away" is the spirit of Baltimore. When we felt sadness, uncertainty, sadness, this song helped us all to be comforted.

People Rise Up And Chase Your Funky Soul (Remix)

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