The Club Beat
Depending on what circles you travel in, Baltimore club music might seem like the next big thing, last year’s fad, or just some obscure shit that only hipsters know about. But if you live here, you know it’s been a thriving culture for decades. DJ Technics pinpoints the first Baltimore club record, Thommay Davis and DJ Spen’s “Git the Hole,” at 1987, which means the genre is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year–and that its 130 BPM throb will likely continue to be the city’s unofficial soundtrack for the foreseeable future. So in the spirit of honoring B-more club’s past while documenting its present and future, we here at Noise present the first edition of a monthly column, the Club Beat, wherein we’ll keep you up to speed on the latest news in Baltimore club and catch up with a different DJ or producer every month.
Last summer, DJ Booman, one of the primary in-house producers for Unruly Records in the label’s early days, penned a scathing missive on his MySpace page about how he felt that the media and fresher faces on the club scene were rewriting history by ignoring club’s originators; for example, see MTV’s July 2006 You Hear It First segment on Baltimore club.
A few months later, though, the DJ/producer is happy to report that he and other club veterans are getting a little more love from media. “It’s startin’ to get a little better now that they see the foundation, as opposed to just comin’ in and seein’ what’s goin’ on right now,” Booman says over the phone. “And the older guys not really gettin’ any kind of shine, we had to learn that we gotta stay up on media things and the internet, e-mail blasts, all that kinda stuff.”
Along with that media coverage, Booman’s had a flurry of activity to keep his name ringing in people’s ears: He’s still spinning somewhere in the city at least a couple nights a week, whether it’s club music or, at Team Fifty’s events at the 5 Seasons, hip-hop. And he’s been getting a foot in the door with the music industry, landing high-profile remix gigs from whoever wants a Baltimore spin on their single. In the past few months alone, Booman has been commissioned for official remixes of Jim Jones’ chart-topping “We Fly High,” Diddy’s “Get Off,” and the dance hit “Waiting” by so-called rocktronica act Taxi Doll.
But the biggest project on his horizon is the 410 Pharaohs, with fellow producer Jimmy Jones and local hip-hop legend Labtekwon, that, based on ’06 singles “Sex Machine” and “Hammer Dance,” promises to take the club-rap hybrid to freaky-deaky new levels. The group’s first album has been in the can since last year, and while the members are shopping it to labels, they’ve already started recording another. “We’re actually workin’ on the second album because we tryin’ to create multiple deals,” Booman says. “Because there’s a lot of labels lookin’ at ‘em, we’re tryin’ to make that happen. We re-recorded a joint on the 410 Pharaohs album with David Banner on a club track, it’s crazy.”
Booman and Labtekwon also got a sponsorship from Toyota’s Scion brand for a series of shows in March.
In other club news, the year got off to a good start with the January release of Rod Lee’s fifth album, The Producer, his first for Unruly Records. Unruly and Lee’s Club Kingz Records have remained in more or less separate camps over the past decade, and only good can come of Baltimore club’s two titans forming a unified front.
Also on Unruly, K-Swift’s unstoppable Jump Off mix series keeps trucking on with a new volume every couple of months, up to Volume 9–or maybe it’s Volume 10 by now. Oh, and Blaq Starr’s 12-inch on Mad Decent Records, whose press release we made fun of a few weeks ago, is starting to make the rounds. Most of its tracks should be familiar to anyone who listens to 92Q, but it’s good to see one of Baltimore’s best producers getting a national release.