I'm spoiled. I grew up with the privilege of being raised in a city that has hunger pains for music that summons holy ghosts, intense emotions, and ceremonious body movements even within the inert and impermeable: Baltimore Club Music. This is my music. A genre that propels at 130BPM with enchanting, repetitive vocal melodies, and a powerful thumping bass that thrived at family cookouts, block parties where people danced for their lives, and at clubs like the Paradox where people lost their fucking minds to it. It's a poignant part of my identity—as much as eating crabs is, busting my first nut with a guy, or hitting my first blunt (and of course doing my own musical shit. I mean duh). So, of course, when I went to the Boiler Room TV's Baltimore Club edition which featured James Nasty, Mighty Mark, TT The Artist, and legends Scottie B and DJ Technics, I was simply happy. I was high. I was proud.
My first thought when I heard about the Boiler Room Baltimore Club edition was how the fuck did this get to Brooklyn, on this medium, traveling hundreds of miles to me even when I thought I left it behind? I just moved to Brooklyn and felt home sick as hell and there it was, Baltimore Club at its finest, illuminated by such a grand musical platform like Boiler Room for thousands of people to get into and feel what I felt as a child. After thirty years of existing, it's still here and it still resonates. Yes---it wilted a bit. Now in Baltimore, you barely hear it on the radio, at parties, and now there is only a few young Baltimore Club music producers/DJ's that are trying to keep it alive. It did grow and spread to other cities like Philly and Jersey, with great DJ's like Uniique and DJ Sega putting their spin on it. But in Baltimore, it is not what it used to be. It was everywhere, and heard it a billion times during the day in cars, through house windows, and especially on the radio. But no shade, I think it's a lot of reasons: gentrification, radio buyouts, the internet, blah blah. We live in America. Subcultures are murdered all the time. It's all shade and very shameful. Niggas can't have nothing. Not even replications of our own identities. I’m getting angry. Ok OK Ok, Let me take a breath ----------- NAMASTE. So that's why I was so fucking emotional seeing my music so alive that night in the Boiler Room. For one, it’s rare to see the new school and old school together in one night. Shit, even Scottie B said him and DJ Technics haven’t played together since 1989. Also, there was a surprise appearance by two other legends, DJ Amir and Rod Lee. It was too much history in that room and I wondered if the folks at Boiler Room even knew what they was doing for a kid like me. I didn't even care if it sucked. I was going to be content regardless.
But it didn't suck at all that night. Everybody went the fuck off on their sets. You could tell that all the DJs was feeling too damn good to play anything that slacked. James Nasty went first and slayed, playing tracks from yours truly, to Schwarz’s “Lose Your Mind”, to old school classics like “Peanut Butter Jelly Time.” His set started off soft and nostalgic but in the end it was very aggressive, playing tracks like “Work” by A$AP Ferg mixed with crazed Lil John ad libs. Mighty Mark set was full of Baltimore pride. A lot of his tracks referenced the Baltimore scenery, neighborhoods, and terminology by playing tracks like "Baltimore Up in This Bitch" and a track that shouted out Cherry Hill nonstop. TT, of course, brought in her take of Baltimore Club with her empowering femme liberating tracks like "Pussy Ate" which had people gasping for glory! Then legend Scottie B, came on with so much confidence when his set began. He fucked it up. His set had attitude and guttah vibes with tracks like Soulja Boy's “Turn My Swag On” and Three 6's “Tear Da Club Up.” DJ Technics ended with a set of that Baltimore Club/ House hybrid, full classicism, which was very, very smooth. People was losing it. Everyone was drenched in sweat and everybody’s hair was in an electrified frizz from the power of these DJ’s. Every time I looked into someone’s eyes, they were wide and joyful. Everybody was connected, not just by sweat that they were dripping on others, but by being on the same musical metaphysical drug, feeling the same high, liberated by the provocation of the soundwaves of my city.
It was a beauty. I was up and down with emotions the entire night. A lot of my Baltimore music friends were in the building and it felt like I was at home. It made me not want to leave the sound behind as I see many rappers or singers from Baltimore do. (Side note: I wish there were more female and queer DJ's doing Baltimore club too.) It's important to me that I carry on the sound til I die because Baltimore needs an authentic mascot for this distinctive expression and voice. Secondly, it's obvious that people still lust for it. The whole room was crazy during the event and it ranged from younger people to older, black, white, and many other types of people who rejoiced in this musical goodness. And I also feel like a lot of DJ’s outside of Baltimore are fucking wack. They have good taste but I think most of them are selfish and don't really get that you have to make people want to dance. They play music to boost their egos and to be “cool”. If they do play localized music like Baltimore Club, they don’t do it right, and it doesn’t feel genuine. I go to a lot of parties and don't really ever feel enticed to dance. But at the Boiler Room that night, all vibes felt authentic. I was provoked to move nonstop and, mind you, I was on no drugs at all. I didn't need it.
-Abdu Ali: @AbduAli