Jersey Club has taken over TikTok thanks to viral dance trends and song remixes, and with the release of Lil Uzi’s “Just Wanna Rock” in October, it may just take over the world. But if you ask anyone from Jersey, they’ll tell you it already has.
For over a decade, Jersey Club has been a mainstay in the tri-state area thanks to its contagious beats, popular remixes, and energetic DJs and producers. Now, club music has migrated to TikTok, and Lil Uzi Vert’s viral track highlights how much Jersey Club has been ingrained in many of the songs and dances that dominate the trends on the app. Think Ciara’s popular 2019 track “Level Up,” which interlopes Kyle Edward and DJ Smallz’s Jersey Club remix to “We Are Young,” or Drake’s song “Massive” which uses the staple Lil Jon bed squeak that’s included on every club record (which Jon later revealed was actually a squeaky chair sound effect) and five-count kick pattern. Now, the originally niche scene has branched out to places far beyond the confines of Jersey’s borders.
“Just Wanna Rock” features an electric beat and earworm of a hook that has enough replay value for it to be run back multiple times in a row (Uzi even performed it three times straight at ComplexCon). Nineteen-year-old Newark-raised producer MCVertt is responsible for the viral track. Vertt is part of a collective of producers, dancers, and artists out of Jersey called Project X. Vertt told Complex that he has always been a massive fan of Uzi’s and used to message him on social media, never expecting to get a response. Then, one day in late November of last year, everything changed.
“I used to DM Uzi all the time, never thinking he would respond,” Vertt recalls. “Last November, he hit me back and told me I’m his favorite and told me to pull up to the studio. Then he danced to one of my songs in April, I sent him a couple more Jersey club beats, and he hit me back and said he went crazy and asked me to share it everywhere.” “Just Wanna Rock” now has over 70 million streams on Spotify and the music video has 17 million views. On the track, Uzi repeats “I just wanna rock” several times and delivers a short verse. He doesn’t need to say much, though, because the song is meant to be danced to first and foremost.
Rapping over Jersey Club beats is challenging because they lend themselves to dancing and speeding up previously released slower-paced songs, but artists like Bandmanrill, a talented rapper from Newark, have built their growing careers off of being able to find pockets of the quick production to rap over. “I only started rapping over Jersey Club beats because I wanted to be different,” Bandmanrill tells Complex over the phone. “Everybody always used to say ‘Jersey ain’t got no sound’ and ‘Jersey wants to sound like New York or Philly,’ but I really wanted to show that we have our own sound. I wanted to use where we come from, and it just went.”
Bandmanrill credits the recent spike in Jersey Club’s popularity to people discovering how much fun the music is to dance and party to.
“With Jersey, we’re so enclosed and focused on us that we never really gave a fuck about what the rest of the world thought about us,” he said. “We never really marketed Jersey to the rest of the world. So now that the world is starting to catch on, they realizing it’s jumpy, fun, and makes you want to party.” The Newark rapper added that many aspects of the new dance trends taking over TikTok harken back to past waves that many Jersey natives grew up doing, including several dance moves that originate from DJ Lil Man’s 2011 song “I Like The Way She Move.”
One thing Bandman and MCvertt have in common is that they both credit 26-year-old DJ Lil Taj as being one of the DJs they remember hearing the most when they were growing up. Taj is a pillar of Jersey Club culture and is responsible for helping the club scene develop its signature sound.
The Newark producer and radio host explained that Jersey Club is really a derivative of Baltimore Club, and compared its growth to Chicago drill’s expansion to the UK and New York.
“Jersey Club originally got off the ground thanks to Baltimore Club,” Taj explains to Complex. “We were listening to Baltimore Club from people like [DJ] Tim Dolla and [DJ] Tameil, and they brought the club music to us from Baltimore. The Baltimore Club sound was what we were listening to and what was hot at our parties and sweet sixteens. We didn’t even really start calling it Jersey Club until 2007. DJ Lil Man was one of the first people to even call it that.”
Taj and other modern Jersey DJs like DJ UNiiQU3, DJ Jayhood, and more are so important to the Jersey Club scene because they helped shepherd it through the early stages of social media during the 2010s when it was popular on Vine, a predecessor of TikTok. “I feel like my era was the one that helped Jersey Club go viral outside of Jersey,” he added. “I like it [going viral] because this is what we’ve been working for all this time. I know for a fact that I went hard to help with what’s going on right now. The sound that everyone was ignoring, I was working so hard to get Jersey Club to the next level outside of Jersey. We can’t blow something up if we’re the only ones making it.”
The reason Jersey Club has taken over TikTok now is simple: people love to dance and have fun. When the app was known as Musical.ly from 2014 to 2018, it was predicated solely on dance trends. Now, although TikTok has become a dense glossary of various content, it continues to be a place where users can discover new music and help it spread, so, naturally, the app lends itself to Jersey Club because of its lighthearted and dance-centric nature.
“You don’t even have to know the song to feel the energy and move to it,” Taj adds. Led by the youth, like McVertt and Project X, Jersey Club is likely to continue to expand beyond the state thanks to its inclusiveness. Even if hating on New Jersey is one of your personality traits, you can’t hate on Jersey Club.