This EDM Origins post focuses on some of the early trance and progressive house sounds responsible for today’s EDM with a sick remix of Michelle Williams by Karmatronic
[Hard House/Anthem Trance] Future Breeze – Second Life (Club Mix)
For Our EDM Origins of today we have two very influential and treasured songs from my music library. Both released during the forefront of EDM’s emergence into American culture during the ripe year of 2008. Our first selection “Second Life (Club Mix” by Future Breeze is a highly slept on, heavy bass-synth trance track I happened to stumble across on iTunes one day.
[Spoiler:] For the young and restless skip ahead to the 3:01 mark for the epic drop. The song continually builds over futuristic synths that were likely foundations for the Future House and Synth House we have today. After a nice little intro the music cuts. Slowly but surely a tiny synth chord begins, growing louder, until the epic dropthat rides out for the rest of song. Trance lovers will not be disappointed.
[Ambient Trance/House] Michelle Williams – We Break the Dawn (Karmatronic Video Remix)
Next up, how can we forget Karmatronic’s magnificent remix of Michelle Williams “We Break the Dawn”. Turning the song into a groovy, downtempo and danceable house track. This remix stands out to me today the same way it did when I purchased it solely off its 30 sec. preview back in 2008. It’s one of a growing minority of older songs I still keep in 8000+ library. I guess it’s the overall natural feel of the melodies blending into something smooth and harmonic without losing the original’s identity. A welcome change from a time awash with similar “remixes” of pop music and Top-40 hits that populated dance charts throughout the early to mid-2000s.
This remix is a great song for riding, relaxing, getting things done, or just to find your own little groovy moment in it.
Check out two strong progressive house tracks from superstar DJ and producer, Kaskade.
Start Again – Kaskade feat. Becky Jean Williams
Kaskade’s iconic Dynasty album helped propel him into the forefront as EDM music was coming up around 2008. With soothing vocals, calming guitar chords and brain-melting synths, “Start Again” is just one of many songs showcasing the musical depth and variety that Kaskade is well-known for. Dynasty was probably one of Kaskade’s last albums of the ’00s-’10s that had a very strong progressive house focus (Fire & Ice had a more dance-pop, dance-house feel; Dynasty seemed very trance-influenced).
Just listen to another signature track from the album, “Human Reactor” featuring Polina, which features a heavy progressive electronic/house vibe over entrancing and uplifting vocals melding seamlessly with rising synth arpeggios.
Human Reactor – Kaskade feat. Polina
And I’ve woken up to sobriety
Just another day you’re not with me
Wish I could escape reality
And drown in the beats I’m so lost in
Hey there cool kids, I’ve got some new throwbacks for ya today. First off we start in the genre of “real” meaningful hip-hop as I like to call it. You could say it’s as opposed to, whatever you think it is, everyone’s “definitions” of real hip-hop is different, regardless this soulful, never-realeased rare track from Kanye West featuring Snoop Dogg & John Legend is a perfect song to bring back for Summer2k15. With production from Kanye himself, the beat, melody and sample in the chorus are make an irresistibly groove-inducing song.
Next, though still dance-able, but much more conscious: this song could be seen as for dancers like b-boys, as a head-banger for the whip that increases your hardness as you vibe at the light and people think you’re a badass, or even just one you sit there not-moving still, taking in the rawness and lyrical prowess of Jaylib, the combination of underground hip-hop group Madlib and deceased, super-producer, J Dilla.
A tribal-sounding horn, hard beats and kicks accompanied by booming bass and a flute-like arpeggio make this a perfect listen (or beat to freestyle over, see the instrumental).
Finally to wrap up our series of summer-suitable throwbacks we have the absolutely chill, “Hey man, just be easy” relaxation inducing single “The Fruits” from Californian psychedelic rock / reggae band Slightly Stoopid. “The Fruits” is a great listen with its calming sounds that remind one of the ocean, the carefree rhythm and vocals the lead singer provides and its borderline no sensemaking, yet easily understandable lyrics emphasizing being free and happy in life. Check it out above!
For this honorary first “Hip-Hop Origins” we highlight “Do It With No Hands.” My Atlanta folk may remember this well-known local trap banger, born out of the “snap music” crazed era of the mid 2000s in Georgia. This song, and many others like it [See Maceo: Nextel Chirp, remember Crime Mob?] released around 2002 through 2008 were the forefathers of the Trap EDM genre. The trap-style beats and the lyrics that usually talk about…well, trapping and the hood highlighted a time when ATL and Southern Hip-Hop were on fire and highly sought after to produce the next hit. Don’t get me wrong, Atlanta is still the premiere ground for hip-hop, rap music and breakout music artists (and now actors as well), however the magic that surrounded the city and rap’s mentality here has changed since those days.
Our second is a rare remix of Outkast’s “Jazzybelle” originally released in 2006. Outkast is well-known as one of the groups that put Atlanta on the map in terms of music as a whole. As such they are widely acknowledged and celebrated by Atlantans and worldwide. Fans of the group were overjoyed when Outkast returned to the stage and began touring in 2014.
Other artists and groups born of the mid-2000 era of Atlanta hip-hop:
Lil’ Jon & The Eastside Boys
T.I. (was on the scene prior to then)
The progressive house throwbacks “Da Hype” and “Stupidisco (Dare Me)” from Italian house DJ, Junior Jack, withstand the test of time and are shining examples that foreshadow EDM’s launch into mainstream America. The building progressive rhythm of both songs are characteristic of house at its core and capture the spirit of many “early” EDM songs.
Electronic and dance music released in the early to mid-2000s catalyzed the evolution of the genre and certainly were ancestors of the soon-to-be popularized “dubstep.” Released back in 2004, “Da Hype” is forever a favorite of mine; it was part of the first real collection of EDM and house music I had acquired…back then would’ve been about 9th grade. Several years after I was introduced to the genre (when I was 10 or 11) but about two years since I’d really gotten into the scene (mainly from video games soundtracks w/EDM: Need For Speed Underground,SSX 3 come to mind).
I am forever grateful for my exposure to artists such as Junkie XL, LCD Soundsystem, BT, Deep Dish, DJ Tiësto, Röyksopp and many more that solidified my interest in EDM. Artists like these were pioneers of the genre and helped drive it to what we know today. We musn’t forget however, that quality is always over quantity. The ubiquity of electronic music today is refreshingly satisfying, but we should all take note of the sheer originality and creativity expressed during those years and even earlier before.
Today’s throwback is on West Coast rapper Khadafi Dub and his quite good freestyle over TNGHT’s “Higher Ground.” The original tune featured has been a big hit ever since TNGHT, the collaboration of EDM artists Hudson Mohawke and Lunice dropped it in 2012.
Khadafi Dub may not have the best lyrical skills in the game, but he has worked hard at his craft and worked even harder at finding unique, interesting beats to rap over; many EDM tracks as well as house and dubstep, and he was one of the first rappers to do it. Check out his freestyle above and support Khadafi Dub and TNGHT below:
West Coast rapper “khadafi Dub’s” freestyle over TNGHT’s “Higher Ground.”
Our second track is another throwback, this one I discovered during my high school days. Released in 2005, “When The Dawn Breaks” by Narcotic Thrust was one of the first progressive house tunes I ever got into. The original and the Cicada remix do not disappoint! Smooth vocals layered over calming house synth sounds compose this little-known trance sleeper gem.
Our first throwback comes to us from electronic producer, Two Fingers, with his bass thumping, head-bangingly good track “Stripe Rhythm.” Props go out to [adult swim] for playing this gem during their bumps.
Last, but certainly not least we have the alternative/electro band you can never go wrong with, Bloc Party. Their hauntingly good, rhythmic string of consciousness that is “Compliments” is worth taking note of. “Letter to My Son” is another epic Bloc Party cut, much more alternative rock in feel and sound. Don’t sleep on either!