Release Date: Jan 27, 2015
Record label: Strut
Genre(s): Electronic, House, Club/Dance, Acid House, Chicago House
A follow up to last year's Hardcore Traxx, Ghetto Madness is the second trip through the Dance Mania label's vaults. While Hardcore Traxx covered the years 1986 to 1997, when the label laid the foundation for Ghetto House, not to mention juke, Ghetto Madness traces the early to mid-1990s, when the label was dubbed "Ghetto House's Motown" ? a distinction that any one of the 15 cuts assembled here prove was well earned. Classics like Jammin' Gerald's "Pump On The Floor," Parris Mitchell's "Ghetto Booty," DJ Deeon's "The Freaks" and Wax Master Maurice's "Pump The Body" are prime examples of the early Ghetto sound, with raw DIY production, frenzied, accelerated BPMs and gangsta rap-inspired sexual lyrics that updated house for a younger, more audacious generation.
With a back catalog spanning 30 years and more than 300 releases, Dance Mania is a label with few peers. Beginning in Chicago back in 1985, it began as an answer to the sleek, polished sound that ruled the Windy City at the time. Dance Mania aimed to offer an alternative, and eventually became known for its frequent pairing of raw sounds with unforgettably filthy and humorous lyrics.
The Dance Mania label’s imports could be difficult to locate back in the 90s and are often expensive to procure these days, so this latest unmixed retrospective is something of a boon. This volume covers a decade from the late 80s onwards, but focuses largely on the mid-90s ghetto house, which was the square root of the critically acclaimed footwork sound. The main drawback of this genre has always been the indefensible and monotonous sexism of the refrains, though the really off-colour numbers are kept to a minimum here.
Dance Mania’s appeal is often summed up in terms of its raunch. That part’s crucial—the sleazy shout-alongs, the implied physicality of its focus on rhythm above all else, the moment when enough repetition elevates music about dancing and fucking from hedonistic to transcendental—but there’s more to the scrappy, prolific house label than the dirty stuff. Over more than a decade and almost 300 records, Dance Mania staked its claim as ghetto house’s Motown, holding its own as the brash, DIY counterpart to more internationally-established, crossover-primed Chicago peers like Traxx and DJ International.
Almost a full year after they issued Hardcore Traxx, the Strut label released this follow-up of predominantly later, mid- to late-'90s productions from Jesse Saunders' Chicago-based Dance Mania label. This tends to focuses on the rawer, more physical, more vulgar side of the label's output, though DJ Deeon alone exemplifies the label's range between the frenetic battering of "The Freaks" ("Work it, work it!") and the slippery techno-funk of "1112." Additional blunt-force highlights come from Jammin' Gerald, Parris Mitchell, Tyree, and the Vaughan Mason-sampling Wax Master Maurice. Among the handful of earlier tracks is Steve Poindexter's crucial "Computer Madness" (1989), technically a Muzique release.