Sunday, February 26, 2017

Black History Month: CAJMERE


Curtis “Cajmere” Jones was born in Chicago in 1967. He had early childhood dreams of being a doctor but eventually shelved the idea and attended University of Illinois as a chemical engineering major in 1991. While in the undergrad program, he made music as a hobby using a bottom tier keyboard, a basic four-track machine and a cheap drum machine. Never taking it serious, he was fully committed to building a career as a chemical engineer. Post graduation, he attended but eventually left a masters program at UC Berkley and returned home to Illinois where he produced his first record in 1991, “Underground Goodies Volume 1”. The following year he released what went on to become one of the most important records in the house/club genre entitled “Coffee Pot” aka “It’s Time For The Percolator” (Cajual/Emotive Records).

Cajmere grew up in a musically rich environment with a dad who was an occasional DJ and a budding musician. Because of this, he developed a love and deep understanding of the 80s house music sound that was deep rooted in Chicago. His music was very much influenced by this movement and after his first two official releases, he teamed up with a Chicago based vocalist, Dajae to produce “Brighter Days” which entered #2 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. Interested in going in a different, more techno direction for a bit, Cajmere began using the moniker Green Velvet in 1993. In ’95, under the name, he produced the hits “Preacher Man”, “Answering Machine” and “Flash” which became a #1 US Dance hit. By 1999 he was Djing regularly using both names and released the full length album, “Constant Chaos” on the Music Man label. He released a second Green Velvet album on Warner Bros. in 2000 and began scaling down his Green Velvet appearances to just live performances as a band with two other musicians. He was still DJing out as Cajmere and gaining more attention in Europe than in the US. The third Green Velvet album “Walk In Love” came in ’05 and the following year, he announced he had become a born-again Christian after overdosing on magic mushrooms, marijuana and more. In 2015, he collaborated with fellow house legend Claude Von Stroke to form the duo “Get Real” and embarked on a world tour.

Cajmere has released some of the most important records in dance music from the early days of house to the present using various aliases including Geo Vogt, Half Pint, Curan Stone, Gino Vittori and more. His sets regularly hit Ultra Music Festival, Tomorrowland, Electric Daisy Carnival and other huge stages around the world. Catching one of his performances is a bucket list item for many dedicated fans of house music. Full Discography HERE.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Black History Month: KARIZMA

Karizma aka Kaytronik

Kris “Karisma” Klayton was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. He got his start at the early age of 13 DJing fashion shows and college parties. in 1980 he started doing a radio show on the public radio station WEAA playing a fresh mix of house music and hip-pop. Around the same time, he met fellow Baltimore DJ Spen. They soon found themselves working together on a mix show at V103. In the ‘90s he also did a well known weekend mix show with Scottie B and Shawn Caesar (Unruly Records). Alongside DJ Spen, Karizma started working on music production for the Jasper Street Company label and joined the Basement Boys house-music production group. Together, the team worked on remixes for A-list artists like Lenny Kravitz, Erykah Badu, Mary J. Blige, and Bob Sinclair. 

in the early to mid 2000s Karizma released a slew of white label remixes. In ’06, his track, “Twyst this” was given out to a few of his contacts including Gilles Peterson who featured it on his Worldwide program on BBC. The following year Karizma was voted one of the Best DJs of 2007 by XLR8R Magazine after releasing his debut album “A Mind Of It’s Own” on R2 Records. With a full schedule of gigs around the globe Karizma aka Kaytronik stayed busy through the late 2000s and in 2011, he did a mix for FACT Magazine. In the magazine, he was regarded as “one of the world’s premiere house producers for well over a decade.” in 2012 Karizma dropped the limited vinyl, 500 copy only “Karizma Collection 1999-2012” a triple LP. The following year, he released a third album, the double LP “Karizma Wall of Sound” on R2 and collaborated with Rokaz, UK star, Sean McCabe, and others. in 2014, he continued focusing on collaborations with likeminded artists such as Osunlade, Atjazz, and Deetron.

Kaytronik was the recipient of the “Maryland Master” Award in 2015 by the MD State Arts Council’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program for Baltimore Club Music. Later that year, he was featured in the New Yorker Mag and honored for keeping his Baltimore roots. To date, Karizma has been sponsored by progressive companies like Puma and Pioneer DJ and toured Asia in support of them. His other monikers include Kohesive, K2, K-man, Kayorcan, Krystopher, Karizma, Ltd., Deepah Ones (with DJ Spen), Izmabad (with Simbad), and Exist (with Atjazz). If you’v never Witnessed a Karizma DJ set, be prepared for a spiritual, funky, high energy set with amazing technical skill and timing. Karisma proved in a fairly short period of time, he is one of the greats.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Foremost Poets aka jOHNNYDANGEROUs

John Holiday pka Foremost Poets aka jOHNNYDANGEROUs was born in Philadelphia in 1970 and raised in Newark, NJ. He was a Jazz Band & Drum Major in Arts High School & the Barringer High School Band during the ‘80s. He began his career Djing at Club America in 1989 alongside DJ Camacho, Messy Marv, Kerri Chandler and other New Jersey greats. Johnny is one of the unsung heroes of the Deep House Music sound. As a DJ, producer, and vocalist, the triple threat’s style is described as being a blend of future funk and spoken word. His first single “Reasons To Be Dismal” was released on Nu Groove/SBK Records in 1990 and well received by a regional club audience. However his follow up in 1992 is what solidified Johnny as a mainstay in dance music. “Problem 13 (I Beat That Bitch With A Bat)” was a sharp critique of America’s shortcomings with an infectious early nineties house groove that kept bodies jacking around the US. 

In 1998, Johnny Dangerous launched a series of back to back 12” releases with the crossover tune, “Moonraker”. The Sound-Men On Wax recording can be heard to this day in big room clubs and festival stages worldwide. The same year he followed up with the bassline driven groove, “At War With The Devil” (Nite Grooves), “The Spy-Chiatrist”, “Facing The Impossible”, and “Grave Lifter”. He continued dropping records in the year 2000 at a steady pace with “Moon Raker (Phase II)”, “Pressin On”, and “Space Traffic”. In 2002, he signed with UK label, Junior London and put out a club favorite, “Open Season” followed by “Funk Nebula” and “Minimal Funk” b/w “Definition Of House”. Throughout the 2000s, Johnny kept the 12”s coming and in 2006 released “Besides Myself” on Soul Groove Records. The track was also licensed for BBE’s “Beats & Pieces Volume 3” compilation.*

Throughout the late 2000s into the 2010s, Foremost Poets created dozens of white label edits as tools for DJs in addition to various remixes, and collaborations including two with the icon, Louie Vega (MAW). “New York City” and “London Roots” became club anthems and brought the powerhouse team to many clubs and stages around the globe. In 2012 Johnny released the full length album “Planet Asia” which also contained the two club hits in addition to the single “I’ll Be Your Maker”. Johnny’s remix of Kerri Chandler’s “Bar A Thym” is a classic example of his ability to take any song and rework it into a brand new record. His skill in the studio, on the stage, and in the DJ booth is unparalleled. Surely one of house music’s heroes to be unsung so longer.

*The compilation gives credit to DJ Shaheer as the artist due to it originally appearing on “DJ Shaheer Williams Presents: The Lost Tracks EP. Vol. 1” 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Black History Month: FRANKIE KNUCKLES

Frankie Knuckles (1955 - 2014)

Francis “Frankie Knuckles” Nicholls is without argument, The Godfather of House Music and certainly one of the most important figures in the genre. Born in 1955 in The Bronx, NY, he was a teen in the early to mid 70s. This is when Frankie and his friend Larry Levan began frequenting discos in NYC. Both textile design students at FIT, the two began Djing at The Continental Baths and The Gallery, two of the most important discos in the early days.

After Frankie moved to Chicago in the late 1970s, his friend Robert Williams opened what became The Warehouse in ’77, a members-only club for black gay men. This came with an opportunity for Frankie to play there on a regular basis, honing his skills and style as a taste maker. His mix of disco classics, indie-soul, rock, Euro-disco, and more caused the locals to refer to this style as “Warehouse Music” now shortened to be named “House Music”. With Knuckles’ popularity growing, the club began attracting a straighter, more diverse (white) audience causing the owner to discontinue his membership policy. Frankie then stopped his residency there and opened The Power Plant club in 1982. The same year, he was introduced to Jamie Principle by Jose “Louie” Gomez.

In ’83, Derrick May (Detroit) sold Frankie his first drum machine. Frankie then layered his live mixes of disco classics with bare drum sounds defining the early sound of Chicago house music. Many producers mimicked this technique and took it into studios by 1985. 

With the closing of The Power Plant in 1987, Knuckles found himself in the UK as Chicago house music artists were in high demand with the success of the new genre. He played a residency at Delirium in London for 4 months before a stint in NYC producing, remixing, and recording. Frankie helped put out the Jamie Principle tunes “Your Love” and “Baby Wants To Ride” on vinyl after playing the unreleased dubs on reel-to-reel for a full year in his sets to receptive crowds. He then appeared as a co-producer on the Pet Shop Boys “I Want a Dog” on their third album. As house continued developing so did Knuckles experience as a producer. Chip E. then began mentoring Frankie, helping him produce a remake of Teddy Pendergrass' “You Can’t Hide From Yourself” followed by “Tears” with Robert Owens of Fingers Inc and Satoshi Tomiie.

Frankie partnered with David Morales for Def Mix Productions and dropped his debut album “Beyond The Mix” in 1991 on Virgin Records. This project included the seminal work, “The Whistle Song” which hit number one on the US Dance Chart. In the early '90s, Frankie held a DJ residency at Genesis (Osaka, Japan) and soon, Junior Vasquez took a break from The Sound Factory in Manhattan and Frankie took over, launching a successful NYC residency. In 1996 Frankie was inducted into the Chicago Gay & Lesbian Hall of Fame and in he ’97 won a Grammy Award for Remixer of the Year (Non-Classical). 

In the mid ‘90s and well into the 2000s, Frankie Knuckles was in demand as a remixer, reworking everyone from Michael Jackson and Luther Vandross to Toni Braxton and Diana Ross. His productions are globally recognized as some of the most important works in dance music. So much so, in 2004, Chicago named the old Warehouse intersection of Jefferson St. & Jackson Blvd. “Frankie Knuckles Way” in addition to Barack Obama declaring August 25th as “Frankie Knuckles Day”. Finally, in 2005, he was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame. After Frankie Knuckles passed away due to complications with Type II diabetes, Defected Records released a retrospective comp., “House Masters: Frankie Knuckles” featuring a track list selected by the legend himself before he passed on. Shortly after that, a version of “Baby Wants To Ride” was released by Underworld, Heller, & Farley marking the 1 year anniversary of his death and the tune reached number one on the UK Official Vinyl Singles Chart, proving that Frankie’s footprint, left on popular dance music the world over, is here to stay.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Black History Month: KERRI CHANDLER

Kerri Chandler
Kerri Chandler hails from East Orange, NJ. He grew up privileged to have a rich experience with music having a DJ as a father. Getting schooled at an early age on the origins of disco, soul, and the NYC underground garage sound, he played his first DJ gigs at age 13 at the Rally Racquet Club in his home town of East Orange. By the next year, a 14 year old Kerri would begin interning in recording studios and producing his first music. He released his first single entitled “SuperLover/Get It Off” back in 1990 and licensed it to Atlantic Records in 1991.

He founded Madhouse Records the following year in 1992 and began releasing various projects beginning with the Panic EP. Even though he was running his own label by then, he continued to release music on other labels. One of which was the “Atmosphere EP” on Shelter Recordings in 1993. Kerri “Kaoz 6:23” Chandler kept busy dropping several releases between 1994 and ’95 including the “Ionosphere” EP,  the “Finger Printz” EP, and a collaboration with Arnold Jarvis entitled “Inspiration”. in 1996, he released the acclaimed Trionisphere Parts I and II on the iconic King Street label. 

Kerri established himself in the 90s house era as a soulful, groovy beacon of light in the underground without compromising himself for commercial success. Because of this, his music fits perfectly everywhere from house party basements in NYC to outdoor jams in South Africa and festival stages in Europe. Known for his innovation with technology as a producer, DJ, and vocalist, he constantly digs back into his upbringing around traditional African American music. Kerri remains focused on the positive vibes of soulful house music and is known to put his spirituality first, praying before making each record. He’s in tune with how his free spirit affects each song he develops, intentionally creating loose, funky grooves instead of the mechanical repetition many dance music producers create. With half a dozen+ widely played releases every year from 1995 - the present, it would be impossible to say Kerri hasn’t captured the vibe that audiences crave around the globe with his records. And his collaborative works with such artists as Roy Ayers and Dennis Ferrer have become certified dance classics. 

Kerri Chandler has recorded, produced, and remixed under the names: A Night With Dick, Creative Violence, Erik Launcher, Koaz, Kaoz 6:23, Kamar, Matrix, Panic, Paper Mache, S. Darling, The Ruff House Boys, and Three Generations. Groups he’s appeared in include, Afro Elements, Art of Origin, Bassmental, Gate-Ah, Jerome Sydenham & Kerri Chandler, Stratosphere, The Songstress, Third Generation and more. With a discography so long, 10 posts would barely scratch the surface, we’ll just recommend our top 3 favorite Kerri productions and suggest you explore the rest of his catalogue HERE

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Black History Month: ULTRA NATE

Ultra Nate
Ultra Nate is dance music royalty. Born in Havre de Grace, Maryland in 1968, she was raised listening to everyone from Marvin Gaye to Boy George. She set off her career in ’91 and signed her first deal with Warner Brothers in England. She entitled her first album  “Blue Notes In The Basement”. It included 4 singles; “It’s Over Now”, “Deeper Love (Missing You)”, “is It Love”, and “Rejoicing”. In 1993, she followed up her debut with “One Woman’s Insanity” expanding and working with Nellee Hooper and D’Influence in addition to The Basement Boys who produced her previous work. This project was released at a time when Robin S. and Crystal Waters were having huge mainstream success with dance/pop singles. Although Nate’s singles “How Long” and “Show Me” reached the top of the dance charts, her albums didn’t move a huge number of units and she soon left the label. The decision was mutual as Warner Bros wanted Ultra to move in a less house direction. She soon moved onto release music on iconic house labels King Street and Strictly Rhythm

in 1997, Ultra Nate released the huge mainstream hit entitled “Free” produced by Mood II Swing. It reached 75 on the US Billboard 100, peaked at number 4 in the UK, number 10 on the Canadian Singles Charts, and helped establish the “Situation Critical” (1998) LP at 17 on the UK album charts. The album also featured “Found A Cure” which is the tune Nate is most widely known for as well as “New Kind of Medicine”. The same year “Release The Pressure”, also on the album, was featured on the soundtrack for The 24 Hour Woman along with 3 new club mixes. in 2001 she followed up this success with the “Stranger Than Fiction” album now working with Mood II Swing, Attica Blues, and 4Hero. One of the stand out songs from this release was “Twisted” also featured on the 4Hero Remixed project.

In 2004, Nate contributed the beautiful song, “Wonderful Place” to the Underground Dance Artists United For Life compilation “Keep Hope Alive”. The same year she teamed up with Gerry DeVeaux releasing music as Ultra Devoted. They dropped the singles “Feel Love”, “Time of Our Lives”, and “Brass In Pocket”. The following year she collaborated with Guadino and with Stonebridge having more mainstream success with the dance hit “Freak On”. In 2006, she created her own Blufire Records imprint and partnered with Tommy Boy Records to release “Love’s the Only Drug” which reached number 2 on the iTunes Hot Dance Club Play chart. She then did a cover of the Pointer Sisters classic “Automatic” and that went on to reach number 1 on the same chart in 2007. Following these successes, she released “Give It All You Got” with Chris Willis which reached number 1 on Billboard.

In 2010 Bob Sinclair remixed “Free” giving the anthem new life. She also collaborated with Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child), Quentin Harris, and Tony Moran around the same time. With even more releases between 2011 and 2015, and a residency at Space in Ibiza, Ultra Nate has been no stranger to a busy schedule. With a lengthy discography and list of accomplishments, her momentum is sure to continue on for years to come. for more info.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Black History Month: KING BRITT

King Britt
King Britt is a Philadelphia icon. Born in 1968, he established himself fairly early as a musical presence in Philly as the import buyer for Tower Records. After graduating from Central High School, he took the job there and became a huge asset for the company and the city due to his extensive knowledge of dance music from around the world. He continued his education at Temple University where he studied marketing and business. in 1990 he started his first DJ residency at Philadelphia clubs, Silk City and Revival. The two gigs helped shape dance music in the city and established King as a mainstay in the nightlife scene. After teaming up with Josh Wink, he produced his first commercial release for Strictly Rhythm entitled “Tribal Confusion.”

In 1992, King began DJing for Grammy Award winning group Digable Planets and embarked on a world tour with the legendary Sade. After touring from ’92-’94, King and Wink started Ovum Recordings and dropped King Britt’s “Supernatural” featuring Philadelphia poet, Ursula Rucker. The tune became a classic in the international rave scene and a club mainstay in the US. 

Britt formed the collective, Sylk130 in 1998 and released the debut album “When The Funk Hits The Fan” on Ovum/Columbia. The project went Gold and received worldwide critical acclaim taking King Britt’s career to another level. The second Sylk130 project, more focused on the influence of King’s heroes from the 80s dance era, was released in 2001 and featured De La Soul, Alison Moyet, Grover Washington Jr., Lady Alma, and more. The same year, King resigned from Ovum and went onto pursue more production work on his own. He began taking on gigs remixing everyone from Tori Amos, Quincy Jones, and Miles Davis to The Isley Bros., Saul Williams, Macy Gray, Wendy & Lisa, among many others. In 2002, he released “Adventures in Lo-Fi” as part of BBE’s legendary Beat Generation Series. in 2005, he produced the acclaimed new take on Sister Gertrude Morgan’s “Preservation Hall” which went on to be featured on True Blood, Miami Vice, Live Without Dead Time, and the AdBusters Compilation. The following year, King did a more techno-focused project under the name The Nova Dream Sequence on Compost Recordings which was praised by legends Carl Craig and Derrick May. 

King created the Intricate Beauty album in 2010 for Nervous Recordings and in 2014 composed “The Phoenix” by Fhloston Paradigm for the forward thinking Hyperdub label. Keeping a true workaholic’s studio schedule, King Britt continues to release music at an astounding rate. Whether under his own name as an artist, as a remixer, or under one of his various aliases, (Scuba, ObaFunke, Sylk130, Fhloston Paradigm, Saturn Never Sleeps, The Nova Dream Sequence, Firefly, Soul Litchfield, Dynamic), King Britt continues to push the boundaries of soul, dance, and experimental electronic music to his global audience.