hip hop music

March 2, 2004

Arthur Russell and Disco Segregation

S/FJ has infiltrated the hallowed halls of the New Yorker with a profile of Arthur Russell, cult hero of the NY dance music scene and mastermind of the best record with the worst vocals ever, "Is It All Over My Face" by Loose Joints (another of the classics from Mel Cheren's West End label that blessed us with Taana Gardner's "Heartbeat"). Russell is starting to be rediscovered kinda like Shuggie Otis was a while back, thanks to a recent compilation of his work "World of Arthur Russell", and another collection of unreleased material "Calling out of Context".

Russell was also the co-founder of Sleeping Bag Records which later became home to many hip-hoppers including Mantronix, Nice and Smooth, Just Ice, EPMD, and their dancer Stezo whose Sleeping Bag album is now among the era's most treasured rarities.

My DJs and I (I mostly stood back and listened) spent a long time hanging out with Easy Mo Bee after the show on Saturday, mostly talking about that NY dance scene, Larry Levan and the Paradise Garage and so on, and lamenting how hip-hop and disco/dance music have become so segregated now. So many younger heads wouldn't be caught dead listening to house, and would never credit disco with anything besides inspiring hip-hop as a backlash to its supposed lameness. But that wasn't always the way, and that dance music and the djs who pioneered it are an essential part of hip-hop's family tree. Almost all of hip-hop's great minds that I've known, from Red Alert to Easy Mo Bee to Spinna to Just Blaze, have been devoted students of the dance/disco/club/house tradition.


P.S. - Is it just me or did fellow dance legend David Mancuso look a lot like Eric from Stinkzone, back in the day?

P.P.S. I've gotten to meet Cheren, Nicky Siano, and many other legends of this scene by hanging out at Jeannie Hopper's show, the Liquid Sound Lounge. Anyone who digs this kinda stuff should dig into her show.

P.P.P.S. Thanks to Sasha for correction on my mix-up of Cheren and Mancuso.

Posted by jsmooth995 at March 2, 2004 2:28 PM

Weblog Archives