Posted Mar 13 2006

Back in 2003 I was approached by Submerge, a record distribution company in Detroit to write up some descriptions of music styles of Detroit for their website. As far as I know, that project was nixed and my main connect on this project moved to New York with his lady. However, I was able to salvage this draft.

Bass…ghetto tech…accelerated funk…booty…electro bass…we could go on and on. The variety of names for this genre merely reflects the number of influences that have shaped it and the difficulty in trying to define it. In a broad nutshell, you get a mishmash of hip hop, techno, Miami bass, electro, funk, drum and bass, house, movie soundtracks, ethnic music, and just about anything else that one can think of rolled into one frenzied pace. At its worst, it promotes wack ghetto stereotypes. At its best, it provides irreverent and clever music to get down to.

In spite of its inclusive nature and varying roots, this style of bass has a distinct sound birthed in the neighborhood bars, cabarets, and strip clubs of the D. The influence of Miami bass, southside Chicago’s house scene, and the turntable trickery of hip hop DJs is undeniable, but as Detroit DJs mix everything from Stevie Wonder to Frankie Knuckles in their sets, it should come as no surprise that they were able to blend all of these sounds to create a new one.

Many ask who “invented” booty, as if only one person was responsible. A few make that claim, but the reality is that countless people did. Any attempt to create a comprehensive list would most likely leave key players out. Nonetheless, one can only surmise how many DJs and producers were influenced by the eclectic music selection of radio personality “The Electrifying Mojo” and mixshow jock Jeff Mills. It was inevitable that their listeners would continue to experiment and push the boundaries of creativity. On the business tip, the record labels Twilight 76, Databass, and Electrofunk were pioneers in pushing the music beyond the 313 area code.

While the Detroit booty sound peaked in Detroit the late ‘90s, it still remains strong and continues to spread around the world. “Ghettotech” and “Booty” nights thrive in cities such as Paris and booty records have been heard as far away as Beijing. Newbies try to pigeonhole it before soon realizing that booty is part of a larger music scene and culture that one can find only through experiencing the city itself.


1. Leopoldo Zubiri said at June 11, 2008 3:38 pm:

i liked your article. i learned so much from it. I dint know that hip hop had so many different roots.

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