“My neck, my back, lick my pussy and my crack,” sped up Bagdasarian style over the omnipresent crabtown kick drums. She wants to bust a nut all over your face, and who’s to argue? Ring, Ring! “Hello?” Shades of Michel’le, who was sped up and fed up from birth 2 Eazy Street. “Holla back baby!” Human disko train whistle wooo wooo’s trump beatboxes. Here comes the scratching of the train down the trax. “East side!” “West side!” Are they all right? Are their hands in the air? I don’t know east from west cuz the last time I was in Baltimore Brooks Robinson was skinning knees and flipping it to first with alacrity. “If you hate your boss say whoa!” “Where my e-pill niggaz at?” “Where my e-pill bitches at?” Perhaps on the east side, but then again . . . someone starts shouting “Right here!” So he was right there the whole time! Why is “Latin Grove” called Latin Grove when it sounds like an Afro-kinder choir singing in Swahili backed by Ms. Pac-Man and Disco Tex?
Then the whole thing bleeds elegantly into “Let the Beat Rock,” which rips “The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight” and then goes straight into DJ Technics’ rollin’ deconstruction of “Mr. Postman.” That one’s for all the bootleg-lovin’ dudes who believe that appropriation must come at arm’s length. But why? Subcultures are just neighborhoods you don’t live in. Places too far away to go. But they’re there all the same, and they’re open for business. They take credit cards.
Remember D.C. go-go? Well, you remember “Da Butt” anyhow. Kinda sounded like some cats got together and said, “Let’s be Bambaataa, but we’ll let Uncle Leroy play the spoons.” Or some shit like that. Oh hell, DJ Erik is mixing rump-worship histrionica into Sanford and Son cut-up harmonica. Wasn’t that jazz champeen Toots Thielemans on that number? “You Big Dummy” kills me every time, till I join Elizabeth and Redd up in the clouds and then Tina Turner brings me back to life with the intro to “Proud Mary” sliced and diced into Nutbush stew. DJ Erik maneuvers the manipulated “andwe’regonnatakethebeginningofthissongandmakeiteasy” right into the Dixie Cups in the chapel gettin’ married ‘cept Rob Base’s breakbeats are the wedding band. . . . But anyway, about go-go. They had the drums and then some. Baltimore house trax are almost all drums. The absence of bass can freak ya out a little.
Hold on, the staccato trumpet break of “Ride My Pony” is turning into the Eurythmics. To make a long story short: Louis Jordan + Motown + the Meters + Fatback + go-go + Miami bass + Detroit techno + Chicago house + I-wanna-go-back-how-far-ya-wanna-go-back-way-back-era rap + Hennessy = Baltimore breakbeat doo dew trax music. I could draw you a picture of a big fat juicy ass if that’d help you any.
“If you believe in having sex, say hell yeah!” Kick drums and moldy breaks moving at magnificent speeds around the universe. “When I say S, you say E, when I say X, you say sex!” You haven’t lived till you’ve heard Diana Ross snipped and trimmed like Lee Perry’s head at the barbershop alongside the Funk Brothers. A two-dollar click track, and a hi-hat set on kill.
When’d I get hooked? Musta been when I bought DJ Sixth Sense’s contribution to the Unruly Tapemaster series in ’99. Right after Frank Ski’s “Whores in the House,” scream queen (lotsa queens help make this scene) Ms. Tony had me beggin’ with the good vibration exhortation “Martha Wash, pull ya gunz out! Whitney Houston, pull ya gunz out!” I was done! That disc hit my solid-gold wall of doo dew that is done so well. Right up there in the pantheon with my Warlock Warparty comp, my KMS Techno 1 comp, my Hot Mix 5 ’88 Windy City jack track best-of, Miami Bass Wars II: Operation Overload (Maggozulu Too with “Zingen, Zangen, Gezungen”! Baltimore is still rockin’ the Kurt Schwitters/George”Ramalamadingdong” Kranz dada beat along with that aforementioned dom-domine-dom-domine-dominatrix), and those two-for-a-dollar JDC mixer tapes I used to buy where the electro is a direct descendant of the Universal Robot Band and my dream lover Giorgio and made for disco dancing not breakin’ or looking sad in a London Fog trenchcoat. These ain’t random shoutouts. All this stuff is right there in the ballpark. Not Camden Yards, the other one. Whatever the hell it was called. Like I said, I wouldn’t know Baltimore/D.C. from Minneapolis/St. Paul. But I love how there are so many streets I haven’t walked down yet. It ain’t like I’m Alan Lomax sprouting wood at the sight of any toothless, bearded hag sporting a cowbell, either. I just adore yokelism. And trax sounds are block-by-block constructions.
Hold up! Where’s Erik B at? “Blow your whistle!” “Blow your whistle!” Shit kills me. That solitary disco whistle sample repeated over and over while Bernard Herrmann trombones of doom lie in wait beneath the water until the whole schmear explodes like 50 Cent at the end of a long line at Popeyes. Rep-rep-rep-repetition is the key to my kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Like I said in my seminal essay (go ahead, Google me baby, you know you want to) “Why Baltimore House Music Is the New Dylan”: “Some people call dance music mindless, but that’s just another word for transcendent.” Oh yeah, I’m deep, kid. Erik B is spinning someone’s remake/remodel of the Coasters’ “Charlie Brown.” The bitchslappery of ’50s and ’60s a.m. gold being a newish development. But if you’re thinking tired-ass Moby shit, think again. Autechre or Aphex Twin would be filling out job applications at Verizon Wireless if they ever heard this stuff. Don’t believe me? Good. Don’t. See if I care. I hear Bores of Canada have a new album coming out. Start lining up, Poindexter. I’ll be listening to DJ Technics’ King of Club Tracks Vol. I and II. They have “Green Doo Dew,” “Doo Dew Dance,” “Supa Zing Zing,” “Doo Dew Ding-a-Ling,” and “Disco Dukey” featuring Dukeyman on them. How can I lose?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 8, 2003