Disco has been one of the more despised forms of music in history, which is odd considering that it was the starting point for two of the most popular styles of music today: hip-hop and house. If it wasn't for what DJs were doing with tracks in the disco era, who knows if DJs in NY would have gotten hooked onto breakbeats, which ended up being the basis for the style of hip-hop, and we all know that the house sound was a direct descendant of disco music. For a while, dance music and its many permutations operated in different arenas than hip-hop did, although there have been numerous instances of these two worlds colliding. In today's mainstream, we find situations and collaborations where dubstep or trap music blend well with hip-hop, but how many fans are digging deeper into dance music after hearing, say, Skrillex beats on an A$AP Rocky album? That's where DAD comes in.
We're huge fans of hip-hop as well as dance music, and we can see that there are a number of bridges for hip-hop fans to move into and explore dance music in, but maybe you just need a nudge. We've collected a number of producers who are still making tracks today that could help you discover the sounds of trap, drum & bass, house, footwork, downtempo, and other styles of electronic music. We're not saying pop a molly and start sweating, but if you hear a 4x4 breakdown and want to seek out music that might engage that interest even further, here's a quick guide.
Location: Chicago, IL
File Under: Turnt
Flosstradamus has been working within the electronic music realm for a while, flipping a number of different styles, but once they happened upon the 808-friendly sound? It was a wrap. They single-handedly gave "trap" it's name with their remix of Major Lazer's "Original Don," and have ran with that bounce over the last year and a half. We imagine that anyone who is into club-banging rap tracks, especially that of the Waka Flocka/Rick Ross/Gucci Mane persuasion should have no problem getting hooked onto the infectious beats from this duo.
Location: Denver, CO
File Under: Sample-Based Tapestries
Pretty Lights has spent the last few years created music that's drenched in samples, breathing life into the source material with heavier basslines and sounds that appeal to the dance music crowds, in the vein of someone like DJ Shadow. He took it one step further with his latest album, A Color Map of the Sun, where he actually spent time recording original material that he'd then drop to vinyl and sample, crafting new music out of it. He's worked with Talib Kweli and Eligh, so "underground" hip-hop fans can feel at peace in knowing that he's not just picking up flavor of the month MCs to vocal his music.
Location: Chicago, IL
File Under: Footwork
Chicago's juke and footwork scenes are the next step in house's evolution, but the Ghetto Teknitianz are just as versed in hip-hop music, including the art of digging and looping beautiful samples, even if the rhythms are way more complex than even Timbaland lays down. DJ Rashad exemplifies this attitude perfectly, with his tracks showing as much of a Kanye West "soulful" side as much as they showcase a more intricate, mind-boggling flavor for rhythm and bass. There's an old soul vibe that goes through the way they lay samples down over these intense beats, and a trained hip-hop lover could grab hold to that and run with it.
Location: Perth, Australia
File Under: Beats
Many of us who write from DAD come from that hip-hop school of thought, as that's what we got hooked onto first, so a producer like Ta-ku, who was hugely influenced by the likes of J Dilla, fits right at home in this new era of producers who are just loving the art of making beats and not necessarily concerned with one style. We got into Ta-ku for tracks like "Diamond Mouth," primarily for the looped vocal over that huge riddim, but we stayed for things like his "Sierra Leone" remix, which mixes dubstep influenced with his production. He's flexed everything from "twerk" style tracks to Miami bass beats, and can still churn out some flawless hip-hop beats at will. Those of you who might strap your backpacks on tight but want to experience some of the low-end excellence that forms of electronic music has to offer should look towards this Perth producer.
Location: UK / US
File Under: Drum & Bass
Our example is from the mid-'90s jungle sound, but trust, A-Sides is an enigma that stands the test of time when it comes to drum & bass. He feels like an old UK b-boy, always in love with the sound and attitude of hip-hop, which he applies to his sound through everything from a perfectly-edited Redman sample to the way he layers certain jazzy loops. He also keeps the DIY aesthetic alive; while most of the scene is trying to get on and get up, A Sides still reps for his Eastside Records imprint, putting out music when he feels like it on his own. How hip-hop is THAT?!
Location: Brooklyn, NY
File Under: House
Codes might be a master of the styles of house and moombahton, but just listen to a track like "In Your Brain;" it's steeped with a number of random M.O.P. samples. We heard from a reputable source that thugs don't cry, but do they get on the dancefloor and go for theirs? We fucking hope so. Both house and hip-hop have roots in disco, so it makes sense that everything comes full circle, gets blended together and comes out Codes.
Location: Toronto, ON
File Under: Dubstep (and everything else)
While Zeds Dead DJs (and produces) a number of sounds, many were immediately drawn to their work with MC Omar LinX, combining dubstep with a rugged hip-hop flair. We're no strangers to the combination of hip-hop and dubstep sounds, but there haven't been a lot of producers who have successfully blended the styles together, but Zeds Dead mastered it and ran with it. Start with "Cowboy" and just move up.
Location: London UK
File Under: Bass Music
The best part about Alix Perez is that when we first heard about him, it was through his drum & bass production, which dealt a lot with sample-based material. Friends who might not fuck with EDM could look towards Alix's dnb work and find common ground. As of late, he's delved into dubstep and other forms of bass music, with his Chroma Chords album having more of a bass-centric vibe than any of his previous work, with some tracks that walked that fine line between grime and hip-hop with a smirk and a Diddy bop. He's also done production for Foreign Beggars, and will definitely be a name for those who like deeper sounds in the coming years.
Location: Newark, NJ
File Under: Jersey Club / Trap
At 22 years of age, Sliink's sound caters to the heartbeat of dance music: the youth. If you listen to a Sliink set, you're bound to hear him aggressively reworking the sounds of radio, with everyone from Ciara to French Montana getting their Jersey club reworks done properly. Sliink's work (and the work from his Brick Bandits crew) is a perfect example of what happens when dance music and hip-hop collides in 2013.