Happy Black History Month Y'all ! It's your girl, Cookie Valentine, here to drop some house music knowledge on you.
House music as we know it today has many different layers. Tech-house, minimal house, future house, tropical house and so on. But in the beginning house music was really soulful and really Black.
By definition from it's originators, house music was homemade with a keyboard and an 808 drum machine. It was something groovy and new made in your basement and it was just tracks with a bassline. It was cheap, up-tempo dance music influenced by soul music.
As a Black raver myself I used to always feel a bit out of place at the beginning of my festival journey. I would more often time than not be one of the only people of color at shows and taking my love for dance music and basically turning it into my life's work has opened my eyes to so many different things I didn't know.
I created a playlist with some of the original house music creators from Chicago and New York. There has always been a huge debate on where the true origins of house came from but if you look at the dates and night club opening and closings Chicago and New York really fueled the fire as the creators with icon clubs like The Warehouse, The Loft, The Gallery, The Powerhouse and The Music Box just to name a few.
The music was a reflection of the culture and it played itself out in the nightclubs. These places were mostly gay clubs that were a safe haven for both the gays and the blacks alike due to the heavy racism and discrimination that both groups of people faced.
Frankie Knuckles,Larry Levan, Jesse Saunders, Steve "Silk" Hurley, Chip E,
Dj Pierre, Marshall Peterson and Ron Hardy are some key names to remember when it comes to the origins of house music. I know I am probably leaving out a lot of people but these are the recurring artist that I found on my research journey.
House music was also known for it's incredible crowd control. When it started to become mainstream in the beginning it go lumped with the disco genre. There would be songs and singles that were basically house remixes of songs but would get released as disco mixes to categorize the music.
In 1979 radio personality Steve Dahl who had been recently laid off of a job due to the format changing to mostly disco fueled a hate filled disco demonstration night that would forever go down in history as death to disco. This took place at the Comisky Park in Chicago, Illinois where patrons brought in their "disco" albums which turned into any record that was made by black artists and commenced to insight a riot that turned into a huge fire and ended in riot police dispersing the area. Til this day the people who attended this event say that the disco demolition had nothing to do with the music but in fact was pure hatred towards the blacks and the gays.
After all of this took place house music had to go even deeper underground.
That style of playing music started to finally take on a life of it's own after it go out of the shadows of disco. Sometime in 1984 it started to mold into a sound that officially got named "House Music".
The single "On and on" by Jesse Saunders was the first house music record pressed. The records sold so much. Everyone started making records. Trax Records - Larry and Screamin Rachel Cain.
In 1988 house music started to emerge overseas and get played along side other forms of electronic dance music that were popular in other countries. The home town artists of Chicago largely didn't even know that their music was over seas, didn't know their sound was being received over there and with people that weren't black.
"We didn't even know white people listened to house music."
Once house music went global people from all over the world traveled to Chicago and New York to get a taste of what it was like to experience the stomping grounds of where this house music sound was created. Since then there have been many interpretations of what house music is from all cultures and all over the world. I love all house music and it did make me feel like I belong in this scene just as much as anyone else learning this black history fact about the origins of house music. I hope you like the playlist and happy black history month!
Still wanna learn more? Watch this documentary: I Was There When House Took Over the World.