I know, I know…..I have taken me a while to get back to writing about what's going on in the music industry from a DJ's point of view. There's so much too talk about that I barely know where to begin. But I guess I should start with a track that I am loving' right now.
Over the years I have worked with many DJs, producers and artists and I always love to watch someone blossom into a creative force. One such person is a young DJ that I had the pleasure to watch get his start in NYC. I am speaking about one half of Midnight Society…..Mr. Erik Elias. And recently Erik sent me a promo pack of some of his latest projects. It was nice to see that he is still working with my old pal and promoter partner, Joey Alvarado. I got my life with "Work For Me" and "Do You Want It?", but Erik's remix of a track called "Dark Kiss" really made a splash at my last gig in at The Cock in New York City for Shameless' PLAYPEN Mondays. The thing I love about an Erik Elias production is that deep groove and influence of the 90's House that we both grew up with. Good times, good times.
I caught Prince on Arsenio Hall's return late night talk show. He said something really interesting about today's music business. He pointed out that we are single based instead of being old skool and making complete albums. Perhaps that's why many of today's artists are finding it hard to get their footing on the charts. But really…I don't think that today's audiences have the attention span to pay attention to a complete album.
When I was growing up, "Songs In The Key Of Life" by Stevie Wonder was not just an album. It was a musical piece. A symphony that needed the entire double album to tell the complete story. I can't think of an album today that works in that capacity. Lady GaGa has been crying about why her latest effort has not done well on the charts. She even said that if she had to be compared to Katy Perry that she would leave the business. Perhaps if she had approached her project like Stevie did she might have created something more than an "Art Flop". Thinking about the entire album instead of how you can market these singles together might have garnered her a stronger package. And as for Katy Perry…..like her or not, she can definitely write a pop song. She's proven it over and over again.
But back to Prince…..it was an interesting look at him after all these years. It's funny. I have always loved his music and respected him until I saw the UNSUNG episode about Alexander O'Neal. Apparently a bit of internal racism played a part in keeping Mr. O'Neal out of The Time back in the 80s. Prince felt that Alex was too black and Morris Day became the lead singer instead. Which all makes me think about karma. Is this why Prince had such a bad relationship with Warner Brothers? Has he become bitter like Eartha Kitt did when she was asked to leave the White House? I mean…he's a free agent these days but you will not find him on any charts. He makes albums and sells out stadiums, but he's not on anyone's radar.
So, when I saw his latest single in my digital pool I was surprised. He recently did a guest spot on "The New Girl" (because that's his favorite show these days). And now he has recorded a new single with the show's star, Zooey Deschanel called "Don't You Want To Fall In Love Tonight". And I have to say that it sound like a Pop House track. Will it be a hit? Absolutely not! But I applaud him for making the attempt to get back into the mainstream.
And speaking of mainstream……I sampled the new RuPaul album. I'm still shaking my head. All I could think about was this article I read when her second album was due out where Ru was quoted as saying that that album was going to show a deeper sound and not so kitsch. Well, I'm still waiting. After Tommy Boy Records had to drop her after losing many of their top artists who felt that the label was doing too much promotion for her debut. Sad fact was that they had nothing to do with it. We used to joke that if there was a supermarket opening Ru was there! So, when she ended up on a novelty label it looked really bad and really kitsch. The first single off her new album, "Born Naked" is a single called "Geronimo" which is trying to play on her Atlanta roots and Big Freedia. It's just sad. And when I saw her on Arsenio she kept saying the phrase "Sissy That Walk". I should have known that it was a promo for the song on her album.
I get so tired of folks who have nothing to do with the Ballroom Culture that are trying cash in on it. Most of RuPaul's career has been stolen from "Paris Is Burning". The success of Madonna's "Vogue" and the Scissor Sisters' "Let's Have A Kiki" were really a slap in the face and showed how the appropriation of Underground Black Gay Culture can be marketed and sold by the right face. But if America had to really look at the reality of what these kids are doing and how they are living it would not be the fun little catch phrase of the week. So, I actually took the phrase "Sissy That Walk" and made an appropriate Runway Dub out of it without all the bullshit lyrics attached to Ru's track. A few months back I discovered that a Circuit DJ had stolen my track, "Bitch You Look Fierce" (that I recorded under my drag persona, Jade Elektra). Funny….back when I recorded that track in the late 90's no self-respecting Circuit DJ would admit they even liked a Bitch track. Fast forward 15 years later and now since the whole rolling drums and arena type tribal tracks of The White Party are not the flavor anymore, now these DJs are biting off the Ballroom scene. As a person who was in the scene and Dj-ed for balls and even walked a few, I can tell you that these people would not know a real Bitch Track if it was handed to them. They have no real reference to what it is and how it feels to even be at a ball. But they think that having some sissy imitating what they overheard someone else say is good enough. TIRED! I really need to get back to the project that I was working on to tell the real story of the Bitch Track.
And speaking of Bitch Tracks……It's more of a Hip Hop House track with a Bitch Track overtone. "Helen Keller" by Cazwell featuring Manila Luzon & Roxy is really cute! The video is great and it was so good to finally put a face with the legendary Roxy (the voice behind such classics as "Get Huh", "Peanut Butter", "Love To Do It" and "Accident"). It has been doing well on my floor and I hope that Roxy will make her return to the genre with some more clever tracks. She was one of my main inspirations when I started recording.
From the moment that my husband and I saw "Despicable Me 2", we booth knew that Pharrell Williams' "Happy" was going to be a hit. But I was definitely waiting on some remixes. The original was not too Dj friendly for mixing. There are plenty of takes on this track, but the mix that really got my attention is the Danny Cove Mix. It got a nice bouncy House feel and it still holds the integrity of the original vocal.
With all this gay visibility happening in the media, I know that the urban gay community is hungry for a gay rapper to step up to the plate. So, when I heard about this openly gay rapper from Houston Texas named Fly Young Red I said okay….let's give him a listen. His new single and video "Throw That Boy Pussy" is exactly what I expected it to be….misogynistic (but only with a gay twist). Definitely not my cup of tea, but I know in the southern hemisphere of the United States this will probably be a hit in the sissy bars.
As for my dancefloor, there are the usual suspects……Beyonce's "Drunk In Love" has a Reggae Remix by J-Buttah that seems to be intoxicating while C-Jay Swayne's House Mix is definitely got me a little tipsy. Disclosure's "F For You" featuring Mary J. Blige is one of my favs right now (um…why did my auto-correct put fags instead of favs?). And I'm sure I'm going to be as sick of this track as I was with Icona Pop's "I Love It", but "Selfie" by The Chainsmokers has all the shallowness of most of the kids on my floor these days."Dark Horse" by Katy Perry is another floor packer.
And the tracks that I am not groovin' on these days are Lorde's "Team" (sick of her voice), Avicii's "Hey Brother"(why is this sound popular?), Ice Cube's "Steady Mobbin'" (past his time), Nicki Minaj's "Lookin' Ass Ni%@as" (bad move releasing this during Black History Month or at all) and Far East Movement's "The Illest" (enough already!).
But to leave on a positive note…..I am proud to report that finally the first mix of my alter-ego Jade Elektra's cover of Carl Bean's gay anthem "I Was Born This Way" is almost done. I tested it at my last gig in New York City and got a great response. I was honored while leaving the club and I was greeted by a patron who was there who called me "legendary" and then walked away singing the hook.