Cracking the proverbial cypher of sound isn’t as simple as say, remembering the code to your gym locker. Making it look stress-free is New York’s jack-of-all sonic trade/ producer/DJ, Codes. There’s no genre the beatsmith can’t make his bitch – from spaced out to bassed-out, Codes brings his own twist to underground house. A peak at his extensive catalog shows an appreciation for turntablism and affinity for pushing club music boundaries, which keep this producer engrossed in music at all times. Most recently, his ‘SOS’ EP took to Beatport’s Top 10 House charts with its smoother-than-butter groove and wonky-yet-delectable rattles and loops. Catching the ears of everyone from A-Trak to Martin Garrix to AC Slater, the diversity that Codes attracts is a rare gem in today’s often cliquey world of dance music.
For the 10 tunes that inspired his following faves, Codes tells us: “I will always enjoy and even try to incorporate in what I make in the studio. Most of these I have on vinyl. Something I like to do is sample record noise before the actual music comes in and mix it into most of my productions with the intention of brining some of the track into one of my own.” Uniting all electronic heads with more distinct releases such as his ‘Bumps’ EP (which racked up two million streams on Spotify), plus myriad tunes and remixes across This Ain’t Bristol, Weapons, Hedkandi and Slow Roast Records, this DJ has busted open the code to DJ Mag’s ears, and more importantly, our hearts.
01. Jimi Hendrix – ‘1983... (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)’
“I would have to say most of my teenage years I was extremely influenced by the sounds made by a man named James Marshall Hendrix. Not only was Jimi Hendrix way beyond his time but he also could capture these crazy sounds/feelings using his guitar and put them into his songwriting. This work of art is one of the first of its kind in that it broke the normal 2.5-minute length of most radio records at that time. Jimi’s pursuit for pushing recording, engineering and songwriting limits is still influential to this day. This one, with a girth of 13:39 is in my opinion a sonic masterpiece.”
02. Smif-N-Wessun – ‘Bucktown’
“This was one of those cassette tapes that just got warn out so badly you couldn’t read the writing on it. For me, it’s that horn sample with those gritty drums that Da Beatminerz wove together back in ‘93. I was a kid when this came out but after school at my sitter’s I would always watch Rap City on BET. I’ll never forget watching it down in her basement and being like, ‘This is the mf’n shhhhh!’”
03. Smokin Beats – ‘Dreams’
“I’m not exactly sure who Smokin Beats actually is, but this garage classic found its way into my record collection and into most of my DJ sets — before computers. My most fond memory playing this was at my opening of a gig at a beautifully sketchy, literally underground warehouse party in Rochester, NY where I cut my teeth as a jungle/hip-hop DJ... then I moved into breaks and eventually house back in the early 2000s.”
04. DJ Krust – ‘Warhead’
“A simple, unique d&b classic that still gives me goosebumps when that bass comes in. Shit, even the drums don’t ever fully drop out for the more than eight-minute stretch of what I call jump-up, gooey goodness. I tried to replicate this bass sound in my own 127 BPM cover of the tune a while back and, in a nutshell, the bass in my ‘Bumps’, ‘SOS’ and what I would say a lot of my sound is an offspring of my love for ‘Warhead’. I have two copies of this since my first one ended up with a major skip close to the first one-minute mark. Anyone that has DJ’d on vinyl knows how troubling that can be when you know there’s a skip and you have to start the record later.”
05. Andrés – ‘New For U’
“I was put onto this one quite late, I would say. By the magic of the internet and a shared interest for making major music business moves I linked with Bryan Jones of Golf Clap and we ended up at my apartment in Bushwick playing tunes off YouTube at 5am. This one, for some reason hit me in that soulful, four-bar loop soft spot that’s located in my brain somewhere. For the next week or so I listened to this record every day when I woke up.”
06. Black Star – ‘Definition, RE: Definition’
“This one is undeniably to me one of the biggest hip-hop records ever made. There was a point in time when it did not matter when or where you played this, the whole bar or club would bug out and sing along. This whole album is just a concrete jungle work of art. It feels like what everyone wanted to or, at least, was trying to do with real lyrical feel-good, dare-I-say ‘backpack’ hip-hop. On the way to a party called Boo (large scale underground music events were not called festivals yet) on Randall’s Island we played that damn tape side to side the whole trip back and forth.”
07. Jonny L – ‘I Want U’
“Somehow, I remember buying this record (along with my second copy of ‘Warhead’) from a house DJ that ran one of the first record stores I used to go to, Joe Dredd – peace to Hallucination Records! Both owners were pretty cold to me for the majority of the time but eventually the little punk kid who came in with his skateboard covered in sweat and still used the listening stations (yikes) ended up eventually being a legit DJ. Anyway, this is one of my all-time favorite records. The lush chords/pads and the perfect heartfelt diva vocal that has my favorite MPC extreme artifact time stretching to the eventual earthshaking amen drop, this to me was as close as you could get to the perfect love song when I was a teenager. I was lucky enough to visit LA years ago when DJ Rap sold her record collection to a record store, and holy shit did I get some records out of there. My most prized is the actual dubplate of the flip side, ‘I’m Leaving’, which has become currently missing in my many Brooklyn moves over the years. Hopefully it’s in my storage unit!”
08. Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘Under The Bridge’
“I can admit I’m not the biggest RHCP fan but ‘Under The Bridge’ falls into one of my all-time top 10. A song I use to see on MTV in the morning on the regular before heading to grade school. Also, a track I learned how to play and used in my audition to be in the high school jazz band.”
09. Ghostface Killah – ‘Winter Warz’
“For me the best Wu album is a toss-up between ‘36 Chambers’, ‘Wu-Tang Forever’ and ‘Ironman’. Still, this track holds a lot of weight off ‘Ironman’, which is decidedly at the top of that list for me. ‘Smoke a blunt and dial 91716049311’, thank god for the internet so I could finally find out what Cappadonna was talking about.”
10. The Roots – ‘You Got Me’ feat. Erykah Badu
“This was huge. Not only for how great the mix is of Badu and The Roots but to me this record was insane because Questlove busted out a d&b/jungle beat on the drums at the end of the track. To me, and a lot of fellow Junglists, this was groundbreaking to hear on the radio.”
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