ENTERTAINMENT/MUSIC

Sextronica

Yep - we’ve been seeing each other for a while.

My relationship with dance music started in the late eighties when, armed with a fake ID, courtesy of my homegirl’s super bohemian hippy dippy mom, I’d head off every week, entourage in tow, to all the night spots in the city known to play house music. It was mostly underground spots simply known as, “You Ain’t Dancin!”

In those days, sexuality and spirituality intersected with little to no fan fare (more about that in the next blog). It wasn’t unusual to see dirty dancing in one corner of the club, and then tambourine playing and testifying in another. I never thought much about it – it just was what it was. Libations and such driven by these beats – these BEATS brought to us via Chicago and the requisite black voice riding them and bidding us to do the same.

It wasn’t until a few years later, when house music became electronica, with all these illegitimate children (drum & bass, techno, broken beat, 2step garage), that I experienced dance music to its ultimate grown and sexiness. The genre had stretched and morphed far beyond anyone’s expectation, and become this thing – this pop culture aphrodisiac that when heard all amalgamated and stuff, made me sort of, well, hot…

Twenty years later, I am still aroused, still in love with this movement, and yes I do pay to play (albums). Here are a few reasons why:

Nice Package:
One need only browse the dance music section of “Amoeba Records” in Hollywood, CA to experience the eye candy that is packaging. My guess is the sweet souls that work at these labels (Ubiquity, Pulver, Freerange, Om, Sonar Kollektiv, Compost) are artists first, label execs second.

The vibrant covers reflect that. With few exceptions, most of the albums look like club flyers or invitations to the coolest party you didn’t get invited to. What’s cooler is that the covers don’t give away content – you can’t tell what you’ll hear just by looking. You’ve got to undress this music with your eyes, people - in other words, picture it naked.

San Francisco’s house label imprint, Naked Music, producer of the uber sexy “Nude Dimensions” series, has compiled half a dozen projects, all bearing the picture of a semi-nude woman on the cover. Let’s face it, calling something “Nude Dimensions” could be a recipe for aesthetic disaster, but Naked Music pulls it off in a way that’s sexy, not vulgar. Sure, the half naked lady in question bears a striking resemblance to the soul sister with the big afro who made it big in the 70’s (velvet posters), but she’s new and improved, artsy and mysterious, and hot as the tracks on these compilations.

Add to that the signature sexy vocals of Lisa Shaw, Naked Music’s resident chanteuse, and you’ve got yourself one ole aural Spanish fly. Next time you’re feeling adventurous, pick up someone (an artist) you don’t know and take ‘em home with you. Maybe invite someone else to the party. The results might surprise you. And, your secret’s safe with me. Trust.

Hot Wax:
God bless Bad Boy Records, but Diddy didn’t invent the remix – Larry Levan did. Resident DJ at the legendary New York city night club, “Paradise Garage,” he is credited with helping disco segue into dance music and turning it into a soup of genres, including gospel and soul. Most famous for his remix of Gwen Guthrie’s classic “Ain’t Nothing Goin’ on but the Rent,” Levan influenced not only the genre, but the way that today’s DJ’s (dance and otherwise) chop, mix and loop samples. He is the predecessor to Moby and Marques Wyatt. Along with Frankie Knuckles, he invented the remix.

In the old days, before CD’s and cassettes (yes, I can go back that far), vinyl was where remixes lived and breathed. I bought my first in 1989. It was Lil Louis & The World’s “French Kiss,” and I bumped it until I couldn’t anymore. The last time I bought vinyl, it was Taylor McFerrin’s (son of Bobby) “Broken Vibes” at Vinyl Junkies Record Shop, during my fabulous London birthday extravaganza. It seems that lately, I’ve had hot wax all over me.

For the size queens among us who prefer 12,” electronica has them in no short supply. If you’re not on the West Coast, and have few options, I recommend www.soulseduction.com and www.ifmusic.co.uk for the hot new and old school house, disco, techno and break beat vinyl releases and remixes.

Girl on Top:
If I have to hear, “this one’s for the ladies” one more time on a track….

Dance music isn’t just for the ladies, it’s driven by them. Some girls like to ride (beats), and no one does it better than Aya (for Miguel Migs), Eska (for 2000Black), Lady Alma (for Mark DeClive Lowe), Rasiyah (for Jazzanova), Tawiah and Rahel (for Eric Lau), Fyza, (for Zed Bias), Michelle Amadour (for Atjazz), Nadirah Shakoor (for DJ Spinna and Osunlade) or Deborah Jordan and Bembe Segue (for Bugz in the Attic).

And then there are the beatmakers….

J. Dilla’s incredible legacy includes a myriad of female disciples, and I’ve been moved to a head nodding frenzy by the likes of Miss Laidlaw The Beatmaking Housewife, Musinah (vocalist AND beatmaker), and Ms. Beat Konductah. Respect abounds in the dance movement. Myspace and Facebook are mutual admiration societies where props are given out freely across gender lines. Men and women are co-laborers in a movement that’s vast, ever evolving and secure enough to let ladies occupy a front seat.

From its humble Chicago beginnings as house, to its worldwide domination as Electronica, this genre has changed a lot since my late nights/early mornings at a hot sweaty club on Pico and Crenshaw in the eighties. But the music still moves me, still grooves me, and still gives great head (nodding).

Morgan Rhodes is a dance music aficionado and one of the key music programmers at world famous radio station 89.9 KCRW. Her show airs Monday nights from midnight to 3AM PST. You can see her play lists and stream her show at www.kcrw.com/music/programs/pl, and check her out at:
www.myspace.com/morganonkcrw.


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Comments

May 19th, 2008 at 2:59 am PRETTYPLUS says:

I feel like I just got an education.

May 19th, 2008 at 3:48 am CeaseNYC says:

RIP Dilla

May 19th, 2008 at 5:25 am chica22 says:

not really into house but you make this sounds good. i might look some of these names up

May 19th, 2008 at 5:25 am chica22 says:

not really into house but you make this sounds good. i might look some of these names up…

May 19th, 2008 at 9:35 am Regina Holloway says:

I didn’t realize there were so many women involved in the behind-the-scenes of dance music.

May 19th, 2008 at 9:41 am heatmizer says:

wow this is deep

May 19th, 2008 at 9:48 am gotyourmadness says:

i have heard your show i love it
your thoughts on the unsung sista heros of music is interesting

May 19th, 2008 at 9:52 am 2knw2love says:

sexy!!

May 19th, 2008 at 9:53 am lolalova says:

you called puffy out! this was real learning i going to the record store

May 19th, 2008 at 9:53 am Aaron Craig says:

Lisa Shaw is like an angel and Ubiquity is like my must trusted musical guide, I’m surprised and pleased to see this blog here. Is it going to be a regular thing? For the folks not up on this music please know its not what you think it is, its a vibrant genre that is much more than your memories of disco and your view of white electronic music from the 80s, I wish black people would embrace the genre more, there is lots there to enjoy.

May 19th, 2008 at 11:14 am superjonsey1 says:

Nice entry. I learned a lot in 5 mins!

May 19th, 2008 at 11:45 am thelma says:

j dilla is the only one i have heard of so that means i have to get down with it !

May 19th, 2008 at 11:52 am culturepop says:

i blame commerical radio for keeping us in the dark about this music. i had to find it on my own but i’m glad i did

May 19th, 2008 at 11:58 am daydreamer says:

So very much to choose from. I need to get caught up

May 19th, 2008 at 12:02 pm whatchuwant says:

this is what i’m talkin bout! we need to know ths

May 19th, 2008 at 12:03 pm lovenleave says:

i like the descriptions

May 19th, 2008 at 12:08 pm Tina says:

This is interesting. I never knew that house was so big on the West Coast.

May 19th, 2008 at 12:09 pm turninheads says:

i love lisa Shaw! i didn’t know she was so deep in this kind of music

May 19th, 2008 at 12:58 pm pmatters says:

Interesting. Will have to hit up itunes and see what I can find

May 19th, 2008 at 1:09 pm Destah Owens says:

Let me be the first to coin Morgan as the “Mistress of the Metaphor”! I love this! I hear ya on the Naked Music camp. These must be the offspring of the folks at Capitol Records that did all the Ohio Players covers. (And Miguel Migs must be their grandbaby!). I’m going to go put on Nude Tempo 1 right now! You just took me on a trip back to Liquid Kitty, Sinnabar, Red No. 5 and the fabulous Bamboodah Lounge all in one (Chi-town via cyberspace!). I’m a straight up Jazz head, but must admit that Mark De Clive Lowe stole the show at the Montreal Jazz Fest last year. Finally, big shots out to my favorite female DJ in the Bay- DJ Daniela for keeping the braindead R&B/HipHop masses out here “educated” by sneakin’ some of these in her rotation.

May 19th, 2008 at 1:58 pm Ashley says:

I AGREE WITH YOU ON THE “THIS ONE IS FOR THE LADIES” LINE. THEY NEED TO COME UP WITH SOMETHING NEW. I’LL HAVE TO CHECK OUT SOME OF THESE ARTISTS

May 19th, 2008 at 2:06 pm turninheads says:

MUSIC IS MENTAL! LOVE THE WAY YOU BREAK IT DOWN!!! LOL FOOLS AIN’T READY

May 19th, 2008 at 2:59 pm nicq says:

NICE

May 19th, 2008 at 3:47 pm letsunite says:

YA LEARN SOMETHUN NEW ON A DAILY

May 19th, 2008 at 3:53 pm letsunite says:

DANG SIS IS KINDA RAW…HOT WAX!

May 19th, 2008 at 10:15 pm mindyomanners says:

All Music IZ Blk