I remember being in middle school, listening to 92Q, and recording Baltimore Club classics onto cassettes from artists like Rod Lee, Ms. Tony, and of course Scottie B. I was a half-white/half-Panamanian girl living in the suburbs while all my friends were bumpin' Backstreet Boys and Linkin Park so of course I was the fucking oddball in the crew. And it's not that I wasn't interested in that kind of music, but it's always been Baltimore club that has stuck by me even when I went through weird musical phases of my life, like that one time in high school I was really into trance music and that other time I couldn't stop listening to ska. UGH. For me, Baltimore club music was never a phase. It's one of the only genres of music that consistently moved me. I just have a pure, unwavering love for club music of all shapes, sizes, and wavelengths.
So, hey, I'm Casey (also known as @stoopgirl on Twitter) and welcome to a brand new series on True Laurels, "Pick Em Up", that will explore all avenues of club music. When I'm not here kickin' it with Lawrence and his truly exceptional zine, you can find me over at my own blog,Cool Breezy. Anyway, let's go:
Swagson- Bring It Back Up
Lately, I’ve been trying to tackle the question of whether an artist has to physically reside in the city of Baltimore to make proper Baltimore club music. Are they truly capable of translating the very tangible aggression of these city streets into gritty, raunchy club music? The answer remains inconclusive, but Baltimore club music can feel very exclusive sometimes. However, I discovered an incredible exception to the rule with Swagson’s “Bring It Back Up”. I mean, wow. The horns are blowin’, our signature what!s are expertly sprinkled within, and engaging vocals from Baltimore’s very own Rye Rye are sampled masterfully from her hit, “Shake It To The Ground”.
Would you even believe me if I told you that Swagson is based out of Germany? Apparently Swagson is a part of a crew called REALMSIX, an anonymous collective of producers making electronic club music from every corner of the world. But I swear I can hear this shit bumpin’ right out of the cracks of the sidewalks on North Ave. So, believe it, man. I’m 100% fucking with it. So maybe you gotta be from Baltimore to make authentic club music; maybe you don’t. I’ll let you decide.
This one will rattle the damn bones out of your skin. You should really prepare yourself for “Jellybeans” from Kilbourne’s latest EP, Satisfaction. In typical Jersey club fashion, “Jellybeans” borders daringly on sensory overload with alarming sirens, repetitive what!s, and gunshots galore – but I love every second of it. For me, “Jellybeans” stands out amongst a lot of other Jersey club that tends to become a blur after a while. It sounds clean, not distorted, and I can pick out every intricate sound within the production. And it’s fucking fast – music that is bound to move every wallflower out onto the dance floor in the club. Fresh off the Motivational Tour with Baltimore’s own Abdu Ali and Schwarz, Kilbourne is definitely someone you wanna keep up with.
DJ Juwan- Dance Sing
It’s back to basics with DJ Juwan. To be honest, I don’t know too much about this guy. I heard he’s from Baltimore and he’s only like, fifteen years old. But I’ve never seen an actual picture of his face so who really knows. It’s very mysterious to me. But what I do know is that he has fully embraced the classic sound of Baltimore club music. For real though, his productions sound like they were made back in the 90s during the heyday of Baltimore club music. Case in point here with “Dance Sing” in which DJ Juwan structures the song around the classic Baltimore club break beat and introduces a vocal sample every now and again. (By the way – does anybody know where this sample comes from? I know Cajmere used it in “Do Dat Dance” from 1991’s Underground Goodies Vol. II, but it’s killing me not to know more). Anyway, it’s very minimal and that’s what I love about it. Today, it’s very easy to get carried away with an abundance of samples and textures in music but sometimes it’s the simple beats that get us moving.