As New Jersey house music continues to undergo a resurgence in the UK, a new alternative manifestation of the sound is rapidly becoming a sensation stateside. This year, a genre known as 'Jersey club' — not to be confused with the original house sound associated with the state — has enjoyed an incredible rise in popularity. Worlds apart from Snooki and spray tans, Jersey club has been tearing apart dancefloors with its pounding bass, drum kicks and chopped-up R&B vocals.
Originating from the 90's underground scene in Newark, Jersey club carries a distinct 'bounciness' and is often used to remix R&B and rap music. The defining breakbeat percussive rhythms and beat structures of Jersey club are heavily inspired by its club music predecessor known as Baltimore (or Bmore) club.
Dirty South Joe, one early producer of Jersey club and a member of the club music collective known as the 'Brick Bandits Crew', has plenty to say about the roots of the scene.
“Jersey Club is an offshoot of Baltimore Club. It's aggressive, yet melodic and sexy. The roots of the sound lie in Baltimore with its most frequent drum pattern based on Tapp's 'Dikkontrol' beat,” says Dirty South Joe.
Dj Sliink, a club producer from Newark and one of the biggest names on the scene, describes Jersey club as, “a more urban take to dance music with chopped of vocals and breaks”. “Jersey club is a fun genre to manipulate into something unique for the dance floor. If I could describe it any further I would put it in a bass music kind of category, but different,” says Sliink.
Tracks usually hover around 130-140bpm, using the deep sub of 808 drums and skippy vocal samples to deliver a fast and bouncy rhythm that pulses through the listener.
“Vocals are chopped, fragmented and layered over heavy bass kicks to deconstruct the source material, and rework it for the dance floor,” mentioned Dirty South Joe when describing the key components of a club track. Being one of the first producers of Jersey club, Dirty South Joe understands the sound better than anyone.
Other signature components of a Jersey club track include drum-break samples from Lyn Collins' 'Think (About It)' and a squeaky-bed sample from Trillville's 'Some Cut'. Jersey club is closely connected to pop culture references and music, which would explain the success it has enjoyed during the online era.
“The influences come from everywhere including popular Hip Hop & RnB songs, to Vine, Youtube and social media favourites,” adds Dirty South Joe.
Because of the Internet and an ever-evolving electronic scene, a new wave of producers have lifted Jersey club to new heights, carrying club music from New Jersey dance floors to worldwide audiences. Dj Sliink and Dirty South Joe played together in Australia last April, making it clear that club music has stretched across the globe.
Popular Jersey club producers like Norway's Trippy Turtle and LA's Hoodboi, while not being from New Jersey, have brought their own unique brand of the genre to new destinations. With more producers being introduced to the sound, it has evolved beyond its early New Jersey roots.
“Every time I log into Soundcloud, there’s always more and more amazing Jersey club producers from all over the world, putting their own spin on it,” Hoodboi tells DJ Mag.
“The Jersey club scene has expanded from not only places in Jersey, but all the way to Europe and beyond. I think its a great thing but missing the old soul of Jersey club, everything is a cycle though. I can see Jersey club going to bigger mainstream artists,” Dj Sliink told us.
While producers who are not from Jersey have carried the sound to the global scene and brought attention to otherwise unknown DJs from Newark, it has still raised questions about who has the right to produce Jersey club.
“Jersey Club's rise and influence is global now,” says Dirty South South. “Jersey artists are doing world tours and the sound is spreading and inspiring people from all over the map. Hopefully the global artists who are inspired to make Jersey Club will bring their own regional influences to the sound to take it to even greater heights. That's the best case scenario."
Hoodboi, while injecting the sound with his own west coast style, still appreciates the work of his Jersey-based predecessors. “I owe a lot to the OG’s,” he says. “I’m sure if I was from Jersey, my music would sound completely different. I think most producers are influenced by their environment and the artists they surround themselves with.”
Another significant aspect of Jersey club is the existence of masked producers. Trippy Turtle, the most widely known Jersey club producer has kept his actual identity a secret.
This has brought criticism from early producers like Dirty South Joe, who believe that masked producers are taking advantage of the scene.
“I still think anonymously producing, promoting and profiting off of a sound that is so strongly connected to a culture without making your identity known is wack,” says Dirty South Joe. “It leaves these artists completely disconnected from the scene and culture, and the anonymity eliminates the need to act responsibly. It's the definition of whitewashing and white privilege. All power to any and all artists worldwide who wish to be known as "Jersey club" producers, but at least do it without a mask so we know who you are.”
For others, however, personal identity and location is less of an issue, with Newark's Dj Sliink collaborated with Trippy Turtle and Hoodboi on a scorching club remix of August Alsina's 'Sucka' this year.
Ultimately, the worldwide demand for Jersey club has brought opportunities to previously niche producers. Dj Sliink has gone on an international tour including stops in London, Norway and the Czech Republic, while Trippy Turtle and Hoodboi will be traveling with Dillon Francis on his 'Friends Rule' tour this winter.
With new producers flocking to the club sound, you can expect Jersey club to continue to grow as its bouncy beats spread to new locations around the globe. While it's unlikely to reach the worldwide appeal of house or techno, its growth within the electronic scene has been one of 2014's biggest surprises.
Words: Josh Molskness
Featured pics: Sliink, Dirty South Joe, Hoodboi
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