When the world is in total distress, people usually turn to music. During a very familiar time of social injustice and violation of civil rights in the 1970s, dance music became the go-to for Americans to shake their stress off and lose themselves in the beat.
Given today’s political climate and the rising death rate of Black men and woman, often at the hands of authorities, it now appears history is repeating itself with the current resurgence of House music — thank new releases by pop icons Drake and Beyoncé for that.
Of course, we all know that House was a part of music culture way before Bey vowed to never let anyone break her soul, or Drizzy dropped a 14-track album filled with, as the kids are now calling it, “oontz oontz” music. DJ Frankie Knuckles is widely known as the pioneer of the genre, cultivating it underground at a nightclub in Chicago called Warehouse — hence the name house! — during the late ’70s. Aside from Knuckles himself being a proud Black gay man, house music adapted both to Black culture and the gay community depending on who was listening, where it was being played and, as we know now, who decided to take it from the clubs to the charts.
House is both a sound part of Black Music Month and the simultaneous celebration of LGBTQIA+ culture for Pride, so we dug back into its origins for a look into a genre that may be the sound of summer 2022. Hopefully this helps you look at House music as way more than just “oontz oontz” as more of your favorites begin jumping onto the wave.
When looking at House music, it’s best to view it from a regional perspective. We spoke earlier on the early Chicago influence that brought in terms like “acid house” and “deep house.” Things also were thumping over in Detroit as well during the 80s, with Juan Atkins spearheading the techno add-on. The “RiP parties” at Clink Street club in the late 80s brought house music overseas to The UK, with Chi-Town readapting it during the 90s with a “ghetto house” mix while the Baltimore club scene was simultaneously adding breakbeat. NYC and New Jersey took a shot as well, eventually giving “garage house” an identity. Ibiza took things global to the result of Eurodance and tech house, which is where the genre rested for a while before artists like Daft Punk, Deadmau5 and Calvin Harris gave it the EDM spin.
House was buzzing on the various night scenes throughout America, but it truly became what it is today by way of breaking onto the Billboard charts. Acts like C+C Music Factory, Soul II Soul and Robin S. are just a few pioneers that helped usher in the last real reign of House music during the early to mid-1990s. The latter vocalist was actually sampled by Beyoncé on her new single “BREAK MY SOUL,” which the house legend recently told TMZ is already getting her new placements and business offers.
The genre regained its Black and gay roots through modern artists like rapper Azealia Banks and mixes by KAYTRANADA during the mid-2010s, and over time we’ve seen the sound pop up on a variety of recent music projects. With that said, it’s not too likely that Honestly, Nevermind will get much play in the hip-hop clubs. Rap rules, we guess.
Whether you’re spinning Beyoncé, Drake or going back to life on a few ’90s classics, we challenge you to give House music a special listen this weekend and include it into your summer playlists as we close out Black History Month and Pride as well.
Here’s a few fist-bumpers to get you started:
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