A State of Hip-Pop

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January 13, 2011 by DJ Elroy


Interesting rant about how hip-hop is being dumbed down by the bubblegum-effect of the Top 40 hit parade. True as this may be,  I got the impression that anything beat-driven and sampled should be considered simplistic cheese.

But doesn’t this describe dance music?

Dance music has always been about the beat. A continuous, hypnotic beat. Sometimes the beat is the driving element of the track, sometimes it’s secondary to the melody or the bassline… But it usually isn’t just a background metronome like so much of the pop that’s polluted the airwaves recently; it’s actually part of the song!

And lyrics? Depends on the genre. D&B, dubstep, deep house, and trance all have some great lyrics. But most dance music is about the sound, the feeling, the experience, and not so much the message of the singer. The message is in the music! “House is a feeling that no one can understand really, unless you’re deep into the vibe of house”.  This is probably one of the biggest reasons US terrestrial radio doesn’t want to take dance music on a grand scale; our music isn’t made to stand alone, it’s made to be used more like building blocks in wall of sound. Now of course there are exceptions, so don’t step on my nuts here. I know I’m speaking in very broad terms. But tell me I’m wrong…

There are a few essentials for a good dance track: a strong beat, a catchy hook, and music that captures feeling and emotion. Sounds like pop, right? But our music is made for the dancefloor, not the radio. Kyle Bylin does make a good point in his rant, however:

Sometimes, just a few phrases make the whole song. But that song is ours. It matters to us. It says things about us that we couldn’t say about our past and ourselves. Music matters. And not the fake stuff. The real thing.

And don’t be fooled; hip-hop isn’t the only genre to go commercial. Dance music also has a “pop” equivalent in electro house. A few years back it all started sounding the same, it became a cookie-cutter process. And while it did draw in people with more mainstream ears, it became the laughingstock of the underground. That sound has started to evolve, but growing from that direction is someting else: Club house!

Well, yes, it’s supposed to be anti-underground, that’s the point… these are club- friendly versions of pop tunes. Throwing a few of these in your set will usually get a rise out of the crowd, but overkill can get you a reputation for playing cheese. Came across another interesting article recently about underground music “selling out” — “Get Your Mind out of the Guetta“:


The Guetta article says dance music is moving toward the mainstream and there’s no use in fighting it. So accept it. But do we really want to “take a deep breath and blow down the house that jack built”? No way!

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