Pick 'Em Up: Lakim, Rushmore, Flow Castle & Slow Graffiti

Rushmore - "Moment X" (Victoria Kim's Kowloon Edit)

Last year, The Astral Plane released Heterotopia, a collection of super grimy club tracks only suitable for the darkest of nights.  Heterotopia included a minimal club track with an impressively busy percussion section titled "Moment X" from London-based producer, Rushmore.  On the Heterotopia Remixes Vol. 2 compilation released earlier this month, Sydney-based production duo, Victoria Kim ups the ante with incredible force.  Victoria Kim adds some groovy synths, a dark industrial vibe, and most importantly, a textural club beat driven by a "work work" vocal sample so repetitive that it's pleasantly encouraging.  Victoria Kim's Kowloon Edit is a heater through and through.

Lakim - "Get Out On Your Own"

On the totally opposite end of the spectrum lies Soulection, a record label, traveling dance party, and cohesive musical family that thrives in showcasing only the smoothest of sample-based, R&B-inspired sounds.  To celebrate 200,000 listeners on Soundcloud, Soulection gave away their highly-anticipated ode to Sade, Love Is King, complete with soulful dedications from many of their incredible producers.  Check out LA-based producer, Lakim's take on Sade's "Mr. Wrong" on "Get Out On Your Own".  Lakim used the classic, energetic Baltimore club break as the backbone to his track but somehow still made it sound smooth as butter.  

Flow Castle x Slow Graffiti - "Do"

A few days ago, LA-based collective, Too Lush dropped Too Lush Vol. 3, a hefty, 25-track deep compilation which promises something for everyone.  "Do," a collaboration between Flow Castle and Slow Graffiti, is a future Jersey club track that is just too easy to love.  Pumping bass, spiraling synths, and a Jersey club break builds a track that can easily be rocked with all night long.

Pick 'Em Up: Kilbourne, TR!CK$ & UNiiQU3

Kilbourne x Albyy - "The Hand Clap"

I've been following Kilbourne ever since I heard her amazing work with Abdu Ali on his Already EP.  Kilbourne calls New Jersey home but is currently based out of New Orleans.  I just love the way she styles her club music - it's hype but not so aggressive that I feel like I'm gettin' shot up outside the club.  And such is the case with her collaboration with Albyy on "The Hand Clap".  Pulling the vocal sample from Hurricane Chris' track of the same name, "The Hand Clap" is such a classic demonstration of that signature Jersey energy.

TR!CK$ ft. L'Entranger - "All Alone"

TR!CK$ is another Jersey-based producer who is starting to make some waves in my world.  "All Alone" allows that super energetic Jersey style to completely carry a sexy R&B vibe from the vocals here.  I'm especially loving the varying manipulations he made to the vocals - pitched up here, pitched way down there, and chopped so expertly throughout.  This is the way you craft a Jersey club track that's fit for dance floors all around the world.

UNiiQU3 ft. DJ Kiff - 69 (If I Fuck)

Bow down to UNiiQU3!  She's a certified Jersey Club Queen and she's running the show in New Jersey and beyond.  This week I stumbled upon an older track of hers that I had on repeat for a hot minute - "69 (If I Fuck)" with DJ Kiff.  It starts out subtle, almost like it could easily transform into a dope footwork track, but instead it introduces this insanely cool bubbly bass that I can't get enough of.  It almost doesn't even sound like it's a Jersey club track - maybe a hybrid of Jersey and Baltimore - which is great because anything that fills the abyss between the two styles is really something remarkable.

Pick 'Em Up: Kingdom, Vjuan Allure & Diamond Kuts

Kelela - "Enemy" (Kingdom's Destruction Before Paradise Mix):

It's really impossible to make Kelela's voice not sound like it came straight from the heavens above. Otherworldly Fade to Mind add just the right touch of future to her 90s R&B influences. "Enemy", originally produced by Nguzuguzu, sees a brand new treatment from fellow Fade to Mind creator and cohort, Kingdom.  Kelela's voice sounds as soulful as ever while Kingdom builds a future club beat so delicate at times that it barely erupts into a full-blown ruckus.  While you can hear the occasional pounding bass, grandiose synths, and a hint of the signature kicks of club music, Kingdom keeps his take on "Enemy" right under the threshold of a big room banger.  That's some real finesse right there.

Vjuan Allure - "Wherkk ft. Purple Crush":

"Wherkk" is the title track from Vjuan Allure's latest EP, which is streaming over on THUMP right now.  Allure is one of the innovators of the classic ballroom sound - house and disco tracks that you hear at vogue parties - and actually created "The Ha Dance" (later dubbed as "Allure Ha") which is basically what "Sing Sing" is to Baltimore club.  But on his "Wherkk" EP, Allure demonstrates a vast knowledge of that classic club music sound, especially on the title track here featuring LA's Purple Crush on vocals.  The horns are blowin', the kicks are perfectly energizing, and it sounds brand new and timeless all at the same time.

DJ Diamond Kuts - "Keep Your Ass Down":

Philly's DJ Diamond Kuts has a stellar reputation for being versatile behind the decks to deliver sets that are totally free of the binds of particular genres.  However (!!), I know she has an affinity for club music stylings from Jersey to Baltimore.  "Keep Your Ass Down" doesn't seem like a typical club track from the surface, but it has all the right vibes.  It's repetitive and hyper just like a classic Jersey club track but the way she blends in bouncy twerk and the rolling hi-hats of trap makes it perfect for all kinds of dance floors. 

Pick 'Em Up: Blastah, Imaabs & Sugar Shane

Blastah- Give It Up To Me

I constantly have my ears open for unique productions of club music and "Give It Up To Me" grabbed my attention immediately.  Located in Lisbon, Portugal, Blastah seems to have created his own personal blend of Baltimore and Jersey club in this track.  A classic club beat drives the track while blasting gun shots, bed squeaks, and chopped up vocals accentuate its every unique twist and turn.  "Give It Up To Me" has a comforting way of feeling very familiar while feeling so brand new and rejuvenating all at the same time.

Imaabs- Grafito

"Grafito" is a whole different monster here.  It feels very dark and industrial as an ominous whirring and sounds of "machinery" add intriguing textures to the production.  Imaabs, of Santiago, Chile, seems to thrive in mystery and darkness here as he blends warehouse techno with the hyperactive stylings of Jersey club music.  Techno is usually pretty hit-or-miss for me but I'm so impressed with the way Imaabs expertly integrates that signature bass you'll only hear in Jersey.  If you're feelin' this style, you can hear more on Trax Couture World Series Vol. 2.

Sugar Shane- Kill That Bitch (Promnite Remix)

Sugar Shane's "Kill Da Bitch" in its original form is already a certified club banger, but Promnite's remix elevated the track to critical mass.  If Sugar Shane's stinkeye and super sass in "Kill Da Bitch" wasn't enough of a beatdown, New York-based producer Promnite kicked the joint into overdrive.  "Kill The Bitch" takes on a future club sound at light speed with hints of vogue, heart-pounding bass, and a pitched-down chant that urges you to "go for the kill".

Pick 'Em Up: James Nasty, HI$TO & Debonair Samir

What up, y'all!  It's Stoop Girl here bringing ya the dopest club music I can find on The World Wide Internet.  I usually try to keep it really weird and favor artists who thrive in the dark corners of the mainstream, but this week I wanted to show some love to our locals here in Baltimore.  Very underrated at times, Baltimore producers are still fighting tooth-and-nail to put our city on the map.  But having been all over the place and back again, these guys you'll hear below have a worldwide perspective on club music.  They've really got a lot to offer for the future of club music and we're lucky to claim them as our neighbors here in Baltimore.

James Nasty - "Good Perereca"

What originally attracted me James Nasty's productions was a very apparent love for old school club music—classic breakbeats, what! what! chants, and lots of booty talk.  But lately, he's really been looking at club music from a worldwide lens - a perspective that club music has desperately needed to launch it out of Baltimore and into the speakers of the rest of the world.

"Good Perereca", released via Enchufada's Upper Cuts project, is everything that's great about global club music: Brazilian percussion, samples of frog croaks, and that familiar club sound to keep it grounded.  It sounds amazingly exotic right from the start—the perfect soundtrack to a hot and sweaty night in the club.  I know y'all are gonna act like some wild animals when this shit gets played in the club.

HI$TO- Where Dat Pussy At?

HI$TO flirts with hip-hop and bass music of all kinds so his approach to club music always feels like a well-rounded and complete composition. This track is some nasty shit and if it weren't for all the bed squeaks, sex moans, and a general future vibe to it, "Where Dat Pussy At" would take me back to the days of old school club music.  And all that shit was hella freaky too.  Let ya freak flag fly with this one.

Debonair Samir - "Drunk"

When was the last time you heard some new sounds coming from Debonair Samir?!  I think the club scene might be ready to hear some new music from the pioneers again.  I really dig Samir's manipulation of the classic Baltimore club horns on "Drunk"; they sound a bit warped and when I really think about it, that's probably what it sounds like when you're drunk and wildin' out in the club.  Do ya thang.  Anyway, I'm more excited to see what Samir's up to in the lab in 2015 and we'll all find out in March when his Whatever EP drops.

Pick 'Em Up: Mighty Mark, Lucid & DJ Tuco

What up!  It's stoopgirl and I'm back for another week of Pick 'Em Up!  I really hope you heard something new from the tracks in the very first post from last week.  This week we're traveling the world with club music and we're starting right in our very own backyard.

Juicy J - Low (Mighty Mark & DJ K-Spin Remix

I just can't get over all the vibes Mighty Mark and DJ K-Spin are incorporating in this brooding club remix of Juicy J's "Low".  It boasts a hyperactive breakbeat but a dark, future club vibe to it that makes it sound really complex.  Baltimore residents Mighty Mark and DJ K-Spin sample only the essential parts of Juicy J's "Low" to make this more of an original production instead of a run-of-the-mill remix.  "My beat low/My bass low/I ride low/She go low," pitched down so low that you can't help but to sport a serious stank face.  They even cut into a sample of Ludacris' "How Low Can You Go" to bring the whole theme full circle and make this track one that the ladies won't be able to resist in the club.

DJ Tuco - "Sweet Talk"

Upon my first listen of "Sweet Talk", I totally thought the producer was gonna be some old head from Baltimore with a really solid appreciation of both Baltimore club music and R&B.  I was so, so, so wrong here.  DJ Tuco kicked off his career in London, explored the world, and then set up shop in Prague.  So yeah, some producer in Czech Republic is making Baltimore club music and it's fucking classic.  Sampling one of my not-so-guilty-pleasures, "Heard It All Before" by Sunshine Anderson, DJ Tuco embraces the classic breakbeat of Baltimore club but goes heavy with the synths, bringing it right back to 2014.  I love how many audiences "Sweet Talk" could potentially appeal to: club heads, dance music fans, and ladies who are mad at their boyfriends.  I think it's a win-win situation for everybody on this dance floor tonight.

Lucid - "Heartagram"

I'm not usually a huge fan of festival tunes but I found "Heartagram" by Lucid to be especially intriguing when I heard its nod to the high energy and rapid pace of Jersey club music.  The Melbourne-based producer has created quite a niche for himself within big room dance music and exactly how he melded the two genres together on "Heartagram" has a unique way of meeting both genres right down the middle - making Jersey feel a little bigger and a festival feel a little more intimate.  I'm actually curious if Lucid found any inspiration from his label-mate and proud New Jersey resident, Nadus, for this track (both artists are members of the Belgian-based record label, Pelican Fly).  "Heartagram" is the title-track for an EP that Lucid released last week, so if you're into this kind of sound, feel free to check out the other three tracks.




Pick 'Em Up w/ Stoop Girl

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.

Kilbourne- Jellybeans

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.