Thanks to artists like Lady Gaga, Diplo, and Daft Punk Electronic Dance Music (EDM), has become the dominant force in pop music today. When we remember electronic artists of the past thoughts of Fatboy Slim and Moby’s bald head may come to mind but long before it became the soundtrack to European debauchery and car commercials EDM was once the life force that kept minority clubs across America’s innercity’s bumping. If you believe that Skrillex as as soulful as dance music gets here are five names that you need to know.
Larry Levan is often referred to as the ‘Jimi Hendrix of dance music,’ was a progeny of the disco era and a forefather of would become modern house music. Levan’s residence from the late 1970’s to the late 1980’s at the Paradise Garage, brought people from all over to hear him DJ. Hip-hop dominated the New York DJ scene throughout the 80s but it never abandoned its disco roots. Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation specialized in pioneering hip hop techniques like sampling, scratching, and chanting over the record to create a new electro funk sound. Chicago ran with the post disco sound, and DJs like Frankie Knuckles, also known as the “godfather of house music,” started using those hip-hop techniques loop popular disco melodies into 10 or 15 minute dance jam records creating a more soulful style of electronic music that became known as “House”.
Toward the close of the decade three Detroit teens, Kevin Saunders, Juan Atkins, and Derrick May, known as The Bellville Three began working on their interpretation of house music with an afrofuturist focus that they called “Techno”. The trio, as well as a host of other midwestern and New York djs, found much more success in Europe where the sound continued to branch out and evolve into things like Trance, Dubstep, and what we now generally refer to as EDM.
Throughout the 90s, however, the genre continued to grow where it was born, in America’s gay and black dance clubs. As DJ culture grew local sounds began to blend and merge. DJs in Miami, like Maggotron, spent the decade defining a new form of dance music infused with Bass that went on to influence modern urban dance sounds like Ghettotech, New Orleans Bounce, and Baltimore Club Music.
If you’re looking for more people of color making top notch electronic dance music check out classic house torch barer Jeff Mills , club music prodegy Murda Mark, NO Bounce prevacatorr Nicky Da B, chillwave favorite Flying Lotus, or ghettotech legend DJ Assault.
by, Dylan Frand and Justin Jones