Dance music is rooted in black culture and gay culture, however, this has been forgotten over the years due to the white whitewashing of the genre. To celebrate Black History Month, we remind readers of its history as well as some labels to support and performances to watch by black artists.
In the late 1970s, Frankie Knuckles, also known as the “Godfather of House Music”, paved the way for this style of music. Knuckles rose to fame in New York during his residency at the Gallery, and his popularity spread, bringing him to Chicago. He was asked to perform at a new club dubbed the Warehouse, and it was there that he fused disco classics with electro-pop, funk, soul and other genres. His style became known as “House Music” – an abbreviated version of the venue’s name, Warehouse. Several years later, in 2004, the block where the iconic location was located was renamed Honorary Frankie Knuckles Way.
Knuckles’ contribution is just a sample of the many other legendary black artists who also paved the way for the future of house and electronic music: Ron Hardy, Larry Levan, Marshall Jefferson, Steve “Silk” Hurley, Phuture, Larry Heard, Chip E and Farley “Jackmaster” Funk are among the heavyweight names. Later came a second wave of influential house artists, such as Carl Craig, Green Velvet and Felix da Housecat, all three of whom still perform to this day and own their own labels – Planet E Communications, Founders of Filth and Relief. records, respectively.
In the years that followed, the electronic dance music community was influenced by many other black artists. From Seth Troxler to 12 Planet, Honey Dijon and Flying Lotus, these acclaimed artists are making their mark in many genres across the scene. Unfortunately, the industry has become whitewashed and many of these talented performers have been sidelined from the lineups. In an effort to amplify their voices, we’ve chosen a selection of labels to support as well as performances by black artists to watch. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but learning about the history of dance music is essential to understanding its roots and where it is today.
SMOG records from the 12th planet
The soulful music of Black Coffee
Carl Cox Digital Intec
Communications Planet E by Carl Craig
The Founders of Filth by Felix da Housecat
Flying Lotus Brain Feeder
Green Velvet Rescue Disks
Music Tuskegee by Seth Troxler
Freeze Records by Todd Terry
Live broadcasts and sets