Lit City Trax is a New York-based record label that happens to throw some of the city’s best parties. Founded in 2011 by Jamie Imanian-Friedman, also known as performer J-CUSH, the label puts out a steady stream of artists pushing past the edges of dance music. DJ Rashad, who tragically passed away this year, was instrumental in the label’s beginnings. Their original goal was to bring the high-BPM micro-genre footwork, via Rashad’s Chicago label Teklife, to the masses, but they’ve gone far beyond that. In 2014 they’ve released critically acclaimed albums by Traxman, UNIIQ3 and others, and last year they made Dazed And Confused‘s top labels of 2013 list.
Lit City has an alternate life as a production company, throwing memorable dance parties everywhere from now-deceased Brooklyn DIY venue 285 Kent to one time strip club The Westway. 285 Kent booker and AdHoc founder Ric Leichtung says that these parties are what pushed footwork into the public consciousness. “It was really the vibe of the parties that helped launch the genre on a ground level in New York and to some degree internationally,” he told the Voice. “It’s more than just a footwork party – club music of all creeds play at Lit City, and it has become a showcase for next-level dance music, whether it’s footwork or ghetto-house, Jersey or Baltimore club, bass or ball culture.”
A truly underground endeavor, it’s surprisingly hard to find information about Lit City online. We thought this needed amending, so we talked to J-CUSH about what’s going down at this Friday’s Lit City Rave at TBA Brooklyn, and the state of the label today.
Is there anything that’s special about this particular event?
This whole line up is mad! Trust that the energy will reach ridiculous levels all night. This rave aligns London and New York’s underground scenes well. Skepta and Jammer, original MCs and producers from London’s urban grime scene are back on another set with me after our surprise MoMa PS1 Warm Up performance and set on NTS Radio recently. Visionist, who released his two “I’m Fine” EPs with Lit City Trax, is returning for his third Lit City Rave appearance. False Witness who is about to release his free ‘Makina’ EP on Lit City Trax will bring some heavy vibes. Plus we have Durban, who has released his “Chimes” EP with us and fellow Teklife cohort TCJ in the mix.
How would you sum up the vibe and purpose of Lit City? What defines your parties?
We play music to make everyone skank out and shake their ass. Anything goes. No rules. The crowd gets mad and we have the craziest music ever – DJs are always in their element crossing all the boundaries they can.
What kind of music will people hear?
Futuristic, urban club oriented sounds from all over the globe. You can expect a mix of Rap, Grime, Garage, RnB edits, Footwork, Juke, Ghetto House, Kuduro, Kwaito, Bacardi House, Jersey, Baltimore and Philly Club, Ballroom, Reggaeton, Tarraxinha and anything else forward thinking.
How has Lit City evolved since it got started?
We started as a platform for Footwork, releasing the TEKLIFE Volumes, branching out into all sorts of other sounds from Kuduro to Jersey Club and onwards.
What are you guys really excited about now in culture and looking forward to in the new future?
It’s been really interesting to watch how the rest of the world has started to embrace Grime music. I can’t wait to get these Prince Rapid and Youngstar records to the masses.