Marcus Dowling is a freelance music journalist from Washington DC. Marcus is writing for The Couch Sessions, Brightest Young Things and Art Nouveau Magazine. From now on we’re happy he is also writing for baltimore-club.com.
Yesterday, Al Shipley of the Baltimore City Paper, a journalist whom I respect and look at as a definite and most appreciated peer in the industry of discussing club music, released his list of the top 10 Baltimore club tracks of 2009. Upon reading, I definitely felt compelled to drop my own version of a “Top Bmore Club” list as well, for the sake of adding more fuel for discussion about what was a year that saw the pool for the far reaching effects of club music deepen and widen significantly with the mainstream success of DJ Class, as well as nods to work by Bmore Original Records by the mainstream as well. Club music is at a definite crossroads, which you will tell by the content of this list.
James Nasty “Dance Motherfucker,” – Owes a lot to Griff’s “Chris Rock Joint” for its success, but the Katt Williams sample NEVER gets old. Track breaks down on the chorus in a magical manner.
DJ Class feat. Fatman Scoop “Dance Like a Freak,” – Before adding Scoop, was okay. With Scoop, outlandishly street and much harder edged.
DJ Pierre “Let Me Get That” – So minimal, so tight, and Pierre’s so young. I strongly feel that the entirety of Baltimore should get together and give this young DJ one hint each to being better han he already is. Protecting and developing the future is ALWAYS important. There’s an entire crew of solid young DJs in the Bmore club scene who deserve it, not just Pierre, but with him having the spotlight most often, he’s a solid place to start.
Click for more to see the TOP 5!
5. I’m the Shit – DJ Class: Okay. So why, #5 for the track that clearly opened all the doors. Well, here goes nothing. “I’m the Shit” deserved so much better. Within three months of release, Lil Jon, Jermaine Dupri, Trey Songz and Kanye West had all recorded remixes of this song. It then hit urban radio nationwide like a left/right combination from Floyd Mayweather. Before anyone knew it, Class was a superstar (think I’m kidding? At SXSW, for an entire week of March 2009, I, and a 12 block radius of the most important people in music had “I got diamonds on my neck and patron in my cup” likely literally tattooed on our brains). However, there were problems we were all overlooking. Foremost he had no album or no other tracks available for release. This then led to a stall where the song had NO VIDEO, which killed it as far as making it to MTV. And when the song DID get a video? It was dimly shot and frankly poorly produced, and not TV ready. This track was the little engine that could, though, but it’s finally run out of major label gas. It was a fun ride while it lasted, and definitely opened a million doors, and made DJ Class the “it” producer of the moment for remixes, having worked with Beyonce most recently. This track had ALL the sizzle but none of the steak. The song became far, far, far more than JUST a fun club number, and the palpable depression of not seeing the closest thing club music has had to a #1 jam slide was in my mind a tough pill to swallow and a rallying point for producers within the city.
4. James Nasty ft. Maggie Horn – “We All Want”: I think that James Nasty is the closest thing we have to Rod Lee’s style and type of production in club music right now. The scary thing with him is that he’s still very much a work in progress, burning through work at a rather herculean pace of releases as compared to other more veteran producers. Easily his most accessible track is with NYC club hopping songstress Maggie Horn, “We All Want.” Minimalist with a “Think” break, I can’t think of a better hook than “Get buck, tear it up, baby work it out.” The song walks the fine line between house and pure straightforward club music quite well, and has infinite appeal in my eyes. As with most things in Baltimore in 2009, the track definitely got lost by most eyes under the deluge of mainstream attention centered at Unruly Records and the label’s attempt at shifting from *just* being a club label to being a more well rounded entity. Do give this a listen though as it’s a solid marraige of producer and singer here, as this is by leaps and bounds the best thing Maggie Horn has recorded so far in her career. James has already worked with Maggie, Menya and Ninjasonik so far, and is truly the connection between the hipster mecca of Brooklyn and the Charm City. Definitely watch him in 2010.
3. KW Griff – “Swift’s Revenge”: I think KW Griff can make club fire in his sleep. Taking MIA’s “Boyz” break and Swift’s radio bumper and combining the two is a work of a genius. Griff has been at this for a while now, and never loses ways to keep his samples, breaks and style fresh and entertaining. His musicality is always the most telling thing with him, as with a background spinning house music, everything has that glossy, ultra smooth feel to it that makes him a legend at his craft. K-Swift’s death has easily been the most damaging issue with club music, as somehow, things unraveled following her untimely demise, and it’s taken at least a year for many in the game to get back on track. Swift’s importance as a mentor, talent and influence cannot be forgotten, but must also be carried forth to ensure the continuance of the brilliance of the sound.
2. DJ Booman – “Warface”: I love club music that inspires violence. This is the angriest club track I’ve heard in a long time, and is a return to a staple form by Booman, famed for tracks like “Pick Em Up.” I’m not a fan of Booman re-editing top 40. I’m a fan of DJ Booman creating tracks that involve samples of rappers screaming bloody murder, or tracks that are a literal call to arms. Taking the sample from the best scene of Full Metal Jacket, this one definitely goes above and beyond, and deserves much credit. Insistent drum and triumphant horns looped over a club track? Too hot for any more words. Listen above. Props also to DJ Excel for one of my favorite video clips of the year.
1. Say Wut – “Streets of Baltimore“: From my review earlier this year: “As if manna from heaven comes Say Wut‚Äôs latest. The producer, a longtime veteran of the scene and perpetual banger creator samples the theme of the well respected early seventies crime drama ‚ÄúStreets of San Francisco‚Äù by Henry Mancini‚Äôs Orchestra. The sample of trumpets and drums seemingly involved in a impossible, perilous and perpetual high speed chase up and down Lombard Street with the break beat from Sagat‚Äôs classic hit ‚ÄúFunk Dat‚Äù definitely lifts the track from the west coast, and dumps them somewhere zipping along Howard Street or MLK, making their way to Charles Street to have a showdown at the Paradox, true Baltimore flavor. The track is massive, and has already been added immediately to most if not every major underground DJ in the country‚Äôs set list. Do take a listen, and hear the sound that everyone will be getting down with that is sure to keep the clubs warmer as the temperature grows colder.”