DJ Funk’s ‘The Original Video Clash’ Is Classic Chicago House at Its Most Unhinged
Taken from Strut's 'Hardcore Traxx: Dance Mania Records 1986-1987,' a survey of Chicago's pioneering ghetto-house imprint
The Chicago label Dance Mania experienced its peak years between 1998 and 1997, but its take on house music — raw, soulful, often lascivious, and frequently unhinged — is back in vogue throughout club culture, and so is Dance Mania itself. Boys Noize released A Tribute to Dance Mania on his own label late last year, with contemporary producers Feadz, Bart B More, and Bok Bok & Tom Trago all paying homage to Dance Mania’s livewire brand of jack tracks. And the rise of juke and footwork (what up, SPIN’s No. 1 dance track of the year) has sent diggers scurrying to discover its origins in Dance Mania’s ghetto-house years, in which producers such as DJ Deeon, DJ Funk, and Slugo raised temperatures (and tempos) with the kind of not-even-a-little-bit-veiled refrains (cf. Traxmen and Eric Martin’s “Hit It From the Back”) that would have sent Tipper Gore running for the parental advisory stickers, if she’d had any idea at all about the resolutely under-the-radar imprint.
Now Strut pays tribute to “ghetto house’s Motown” with Hardcore Traxx: Dance Mania Records 1986-1997, a double-CD compilation featuring classics and rarities from DJ Deeon, Paul Johnson, Victor Romeo, Robert Armani, and Rhythm II Rhythm, among others. What might be most surprising, given Dance Mania’s ribald rep, is how often the comp dips into deep house and skeletal-but-tender machine soul. DJ Funk’s “The Original Video Clash: Video Clash II (Street Mix),” on the other hand, is as tough and unforgiving as they come. Originally released in 1995, it’s a study in minimalist severity, with hard-edged bleeps cutting against bare-bones drums and metallic clang. The uninitiated could easily mistake its welders-shop stomp for a recent release on the L.I.E.S. label — a reminder of Dance Mania’s continued influence in the most fertile corners of the underground.
Strut’s Hardcore Traxx is out February 11; check out “The Original Video Clash” in full below.