I feel inclined to tell you, I better understand why Chicago struggles. It's based on a few very loud themes. (cue Minnie Riperton) I came to this earth different and under the gaze of what Chicago sees as Chicago, I have never fit. Everything about Chicago screams conservatism ie politics. The history of our entering Chicago via Mississippi speaks to our need to fit, in short. Now even a genre, that was created of pure love (imo), is tightly gripped in a choke hold by the same business / politics.
A few years ago I got clapped at for questioning why there were no women on the bill for CFP's event. There was quite a bit of dialogue (on fb) around that post, so it was highly viewed, probably furthering the nails in my "coffin". Times have changed, my assumption is folks are scared to say anything (in sm) that might rock the boat, they seem desperate to stay in. My questions never come from a place of mess or that's not what i intend. I also make sure to define my thoughts in the comments, as to not be misunderstood. The popularity game is even stronger now. We have seen tons of shit storms over the years mostly from Chicago djs. Now You can't get anyone to give an UN-produced thought. What I gathered from the safety dance is people don't want "trouble".
I had an interesting conversation via inbox, with a Chicagoan who attended the ATL Weekender this year. I witnessed a few live sessions myself to see if my theory was any different than before. I decided to hunt a little deeper to reference mixes from SOME of ATLS djs. My mix findings (mostly outdated) pretty much confirm what I have felt all along. I didn't stop there. I decided to ask FB questions about ATLs Djs and it's evolving event. Well lets just say my intuition was screaming, as Chicago people gathered to wait and watch, instead of adding their thoughts to the post. I wasn't asking for a comparison to Chicago's dj's or CFP to HITP.
My expectation for Chicago Djs playing this event, would be to get looser and step out of "the Chicago norm" tunes, when addressing other peoples markets musically. This doesn't mean not representing. It means that "we" might represent some of Chicago's underground producers and push the narrative of unknown or under referenced music a bit further, for the sake of our music and it's djs / producers. I heard wonderful unknown tunes from the many Atlanta djs all weekend, so the assumption would be that our djs and those from Chicago, were vibing off of their tunes. Unfortunately I didn't hear anything new or different from the streams I witnessed of SOME of our home team. I get first hand, that you can almost perfectly blend music that you play ALL THE TIME. I also get the idea of presentation and performance, but then there's the idea that ATL knows the same tunes you reference all the time, because THEY ONCE DID TOO. You easily get people hoping up and down and while it looks good, you never thought to push them or be the difference? People HERE used to allow the dj to take them on a journey, because they trusted us. What I continue to see from ATL is a level of receptivity from the crowd that says enlighten us, take us higher. It's in the body language and look of the dancers and audience. We all are, of course at a point where people don't take risks on djs they haven't heard of and don't have the attention span to learn new and different music. So what happens when "the populars" (here) are all playing singalong top 40's of house and you're supposed to be underground, but follow THAT lead? All the producers and editors have to wait 10 plus years (let it fall lady alma) for one of our creations to "pop", because you're scared. No it doesn't have to be fresh off of traxsource to be in rotation, but it does have to be different than the 1000's of dj who seek to do nothing more than repeat someone else's set. It's exactly why rare grooves, disco, and vinyl "SEEM" to win overseas. One of the reasons why I was drawn to house music is because I was lead to believe that there was creativity and freedom of expression. Though I know, we are in a period where people pleasing for likability far outweighs breaking new music and challenging a group of people to be educated and grow.
I wouldn't dare to think that ATL is more of an international city than Chicago is, is it? Does ATL win because they have a city that created a respected music industry, that included a variance of soulful genres and artists? Donnie, India Arie, Outkast, Usher, TLC, Indigo Girls, Cee Lo, Arrested Development, Anthony David.... umm this could get long! How about that fab Moodys record store that keeps a stock of underground goodies and heavily aids those seeking soulfulness. Or is it the ever growing amount of venues that HOST nights specifically geared toward SHOWCASING soulful house, afro beat and other underground sounds and bands. All of these things lead me to believe that a better experience would be had at The Weekender, than the same djs and sounds that flood our few venues and many festivals here based on, you guessed it politics. All these things lead my inbox to be flooded with dialogue that suggests, my sound is more like theirs, than my own city.
I once again am led to wonder, where I should be if not Chicago?
Photo credit Demetrius Williams of Usual Suspects Photography.
Of course this was the "holiest of holy house music weekends" in Chicago. And of course I had people assuming I would be there. Congrats to the Chosen Few for a whopping 25 years of festivities. From my peeks via fb it looks like they had a phenomenal turn out and fun was had by those who attended.
Then there's what happened after, the original was mixed and mastered by my jedi
Pap Spencer and I (guess I can give myself a little credit). (libra humbleness) We had a powwow and Pap pulls out a copy of “The Country Preacher". A Jesse Jackson album full of speeches. He randomly selects the first speech on the album and it struck me. It resonated so hard, that we mixed and mastered it 4 times to improve the sound quality. I searched for a digital copy of this album and even desperately sought to rip the speech from youtube, to increase the quality of sound, to know avail. Of course, I have a theory brewing because when It's played via smart phone, the sound quality of the speech regardless to copy ends up distorted.
To make matters even more interesting, I had a conversation last night with Douglas Kerr (aka DJ P'nut). He's had his FB live sessions muted when playing Jesse Jackson speeches..
So regardless to how it sounds on your mobile devices, this version is worthy of owning and playing, as it speaks to a period when we could "trust" him. His message was loud and clear and as inspiring now as it was in the 70's. Take it for a drive...
The uproar only simmered, when they initially announced the line up for The Chicago House Music Festival. I looked at it and can't say my thoughts weren't similar to resounding posts on FB. Why Louie and the other out of towners? I understand business and the need to draw a grander interest, though. As other djs who play and love the genre, I felt a little flinch. I was quickly reminded of the reasons WHY I wouldn't be a consideration and reminded myself that my work creates the opps that are FOR me. When and if it's time it will happen. I continued to focus on my work. Little did I know, they would add a 4th area to draw people to the park grill restaurant.
I received a inquiry from one of the programmers for the event and here I am... Giving thanks to God and the universe, in addition to those who joined me to create the vibe for my set.
The people quickly made their way to the area to move, release and add the perfect energy.
Once again throwing caution to the wind and getting uncomfy paid off.
I share these words to inspire those to continue to work towards the things that make you happy. Stretch out and market yourself differently and consistently. Be patient and allow the universe to deliver. #thelawofattraction
Chicago creates soul, of course Fathom Dj and Boogie Nite understand this. Merging the influences of funk, soul, disco and soulful house, Boogie takes Fathoms beats and slams multi instrumentation on top. Friday Nite Africa will grab the ears of the music collector and dance floor junkie alike. Coming soon to digital sources....
when i come to the jam
know who i am
aint bout the flim flam
no i dont give a damn
about where you been
or what you rocking
when the tunes hit
we'll see whats popping
though i did slow up
to be more precise
catch a close up
or maybe get a glimpse
but the game got pimps
i stay exempt
and stand in the light
fame got glimmer
but my glow just right
Non For Profit
The Boiler Room