“I see you baby / Shaking that ass.” This lyric from 90′s dance superstars Groove Armada’s “I See You Baby,” out at a time when the U.K. was producing crossover big beat heaters left and right, is one of the most recognizable lines in dance music. Straight to the point, it’s a jab to get a crowd moving everything below the waistline on the dancefloor and the reason it’s had staying power is because it works.
DMV native Henri Charuau, known as the DJ and producer Riffa, is the kind of rave-minded, young blood producer who understands the weight and gravitas of such a legacy. Using the sample in his latest original, “Graffiti,” Riffa contextualizes grime and bass with wonky idiosyncrasies updating the Groove Armada ear worm into a banger worthy of Dirtybird’s catalog. Classing it up a level above standard G-house fare, the track understands the ‘less is more’ rule laying down a thick layer of kick, hi-hats, and snare which move like clockwork allowing the edit to revel in its beautiful simplicity.
Right now it’s available as a free download on SoundCloud. Listen to “Graffiti” by Riffa below.
Notorious B.I.G.’s “Goin’ Back to Cali” has been referenced, sampled, flipped, and remixed more times than the Spider-Man movies. It’s not a bad thing: Biggie, as far as East Coast hip-hop goes, is a God and his verses about lounging in the California vibes are legendary. That’s why whenever a new remix comes out from Christopher Wallace’s very familiar catalog, there’s an air of skepticism. In all honesty, despite how much we love Biggie Smalls, how many other ways can we hear his unique voice before in a new light?
Enter Chris Bushnell. An artist we’ve covered in the past, he’s a young DJ and producer whose approach is very dynamic and draws from a wide basin of ideas having influences in deep house, grime, progressive, and even harder electro styles. Needless to say, Bushnell – an artist who knows all about the sunny lifestyle – leaves a nice thumbprint on Wallace’s legacy with his recent edit “Cali.”
“Cali,” which marks his first official collaboration with Los Angeles future house producer Cory Enemy, is a high octane, fist-pumping banger that uses Biggie Smalls’ voice as a compass. Allowing the vocal hook to punctuate the beat versus just having his verses dominate the track as a whole, the remix draws more comparison to tracks like Tazer’s “Wet Dollars”; it’s not there to say, “Hey – this is Biggie Smalls. Look how *hip* we are.” The use of Christopher Wallace is delicate and sparing. This gives life to the track and lets it breathe on its own. Yes, it pays homage, but when combined the future house bass line, which is flangered and rough and grooving, and the subtle touches of piano and sax, the edit demonstrates a level of intricacy that goes beyond a simple redux designed for blog hits and Hype Machine hearts. This is a track designed to tell us there’s still new ways to pay respect to an icon like Biggie; to re-think the structure of played out genres like future house; or, quite honestly, to evaluate the quality of a banger.
Listen to Cory Enemy and Chris Bushnell’s “Cali” below.
Jersey-based producer, promoter, and artist Ezrakh flipped the script on us for his birthday this year, giving the public a Present. You might know him as the co-founder of the legendary #THREAD parties, or maybe as a member of the pioneering Brick Bandits crew. But with his latest mixtape, Ezrakh gives us further proof that he’s a musical force to be reckoned with. The 8-track Present draws on an eclectic range of influences from folk to hip-hop to r&b to house to club music, all of which shine through at strategic moments throughout the tape.
While the project’s component parts come from all over the place, the tape has a cohesive, coherent overall feel: whether chopping up sax samples on housey jam “Little Things” or simultaneously channeling Tom Waits, Raury, and the guy who writes the copy for Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap on “One”, Ezrakh opens a window into his experiences and ideas about the past, future and Present. At times boastful and at times vaguely inspirational (“Open your eyes and see it all starts with you / universal truth, universal you”), Present is accessible, but thoughtful; respectful, but playful; and forward-thinking, but nostalgic.
For my money, the most evocative moment on the project is the instrumental outro of “Somethin bout Love,” where Ezrakh’s guitar floats over a deep club kick pattern and a barely-there vocal chop – all elements you might find on a traditional Jersey club record, but totally reimagined. Ezrakh pays homage not only to Jersey’s club tradition, but to its storied house roots also. If you’re a fan of urban music, dance music, or urban dance music, you’ll find this tape relevant and refreshing.
Not long after debuting his first original track, “Richard Simmons,” D.C. artist to watch Julius Jetson has for us a menagerie of remixes from a trio of heavy hitters working in the the independent underground dance music community.
The original, which was a G-house novelty that managed to combine layered, massive bass with slick tongue-in-cheek attitude, has been updated by the likes of Kids Want Techno, Templeton, and previous Jetson collaborator Ronzel. Templeton turns it into an atmospheric foray into dark techno and grime, like Maceo Plex if Maceo spent a whole weekend raving at a Top 40 EDM festival, and busts the windows wide open for a level of airiness not present in the other mixes. Kids Want Techno, on the other hand, seems to be aiming for straightforward for the big room sound trading subtlety for epic builds and skull-crushing drops that hit about as hard as Thor’s hammer.
Ronzel’s edit stands out amongst the pack as a Chris Lorenzo meets Dirtybird kitsch flip of the source. It’s fun, it moves, and it has an insane level of depth that taps on multiple genres including grime, tech house, techno, and deep house.
Check out the remixes below and remember to give it a heart on Hype Machine.
I hope I’m not breaking the rules by posting a drum and bass track here, but I think this one deserves some love. Londoners Mick James and Mike Millrain are known for their proper house and UK garage productions, but this time they threw us a curveball. Capitalizing on classic breaks, as well as a classic song, these two created a timeless sounding track. Although this blog typically stays within the bounds of house and indie music, it’s hard to deny this one. Also, it’s free, so grab it if you like it!