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Friday, February 22, 2013

Video: Tyree Cooper "Turn Up The Bass" 1989

Tyree Cooper was one of the OG Chicago house music producers, and he broadened his work to include rapping, calling it hip-house. He was by far the most successful purveyor the style, and came close to the big-time with the club hit "Turn Up The Bass", which verged on mainstream radio acceptability, but was a little too early. The track contains many samples that will be familiar. This may not be the very first time the James Brown, Lyn Collins "Think" two beat "aw! Yeah" sample was used, but it was one of the first. Each of the many samples used was fresh when the track came out. The beat and rhythm, and even the samples were much copied and reused. Two years later Marky Mark Wahlberg rode a vastly inferior but very similar track to an international number one hit. And I think it holds up to time pretty well; the propulsive rhythm still makes me want to move my body all these years later. It just flat out kicks ass. This is the original mix. There are many remixes, but this is the one.

This is an illustration of cultural diffusion; of how cultural currents are spread from a source, a root. I can tell you, when this song came out, it was one of the freshest and most startlingly original records I had ever heard. And the same for Chicago house in general: it was so new, so out-of-the-ordinary as to seem like it just appeared out of nowhere, fully formed. For listeners like me, who were still stuck in a post punk / new wave / Industrial kinda mode, the vitality and originality of Chicago house quickly swept away all other interests completely. It was a paradigm shift. I don't think that any of the many derivatives of house, including drum & bass and dubstep, and 'garage' (which is really just house), have or had anywhere near the originality, or vitality, of the pure true original Chicago (and Detroit) house music, and that each of those sub-genres is as an echo of that original impulse, radiating in diminishing waves from that very special time and place.

The video is quite interesting in itself, as it features real Chicago locations and a little school footwork.

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