Today, we have a special guest blog brought to us by Alexander “Benny Ben” Moore, a DJ from Metropolitan Detroit. Benny Ben is a long-time friend of Frying in Vein, so when we found the following tweet from Stones Throw CEO, Peanut Butter Wolf, we asked him to weigh in as an SME (Subject Matter Expert). We hope you enjoy the knowledge dropped!
Detroit Booty… it was almost the fucking exclusive soundtrack to the city in the midst of the 1990s.
I’ve been spinning and collecting records since like ’95-’96 when I was in 12th grade and it’s taken me until 2010 at age 32 to finally make the mix I’ve wanted to make since then. It’s called “One Track Mind, Four Track Heart” (title pending). It will be released shortly as an installment of the A-Side Worldwide podcast and it’s 60 minutes of the type of music you could only be from the Detroit area to understand… but what is it called?
Growing up in the shadows of the State Fairground Band shell (where I once heard Luke and Poison Clan perform “Shake Whatcha Mama Gave Ya’” live on my front porch, one block south of 9 Mile Road). You might say I was a bit of a loner for awhile there. Since age 11, I’ve been the type of hip hop junkie who can’t go even one minute a day without likening some everyday situation to rap lyrics or syncing it to a beat.
From about age 12 to 15, I spent my Saturday nights listening to and taping mix shows from the local radio stations 96.3, 107.5 and WJLB. At 1:00AM, there was the Hip Hop Explosion with Reggie “Hotmix” Harrel, whom I often credit as the reason I became a DJ and he is, but maybe there are others who were just as influential and maybe I haven’t been giving them enough credit.
See, I had to stay up late past 1:00AM to hear new music from Spice 1, Jeru, Daddy O, Masta Ace Inc., Original Flavor, Dred Scott, leaked cassette-hiss copies of Snoop Doggy Dogg demos and interviews with local heroes like Bo$$ and MF911.
Detroit DJs took the best from Miami- and Chicago-style records and mixed it with the Detroit techno to create the booty sound, much in the fashion that Flash, Bam or Herc created hip hop from funk, soul, jazz, disco and rock breaks.
But from 8:00PM – 1:00AM, there was a different soundtrack to my muted games of NBA Jam, Street Fighter II and let’s be honest, Sim City. DJs like DJ Dick, Claude Young, Gary Chandler and others would play the music I would never hear on the Hip Hop Explosion, except for the weeks that Reggie brought the wrong crates. 2 Live Crew, Poison Clan, Disco Rick & the Dogs, 95 South, Crazy L’eggs, Slack Pack, Kilo, Pretty Tony, Prince Raheem, MC Shy D and MC A.D.E. provided a heavy dose of the Miami Bass sound. Though some like X-Change and Bass Association were from the D and 2 Hyped Brothers and a Dog of “Doo Doo Brown” fame was from Baltimore.
Of course, there were the Old school LA and NY joints mixed in like, “Play At Your Own Risk,” “Planet Rock” and “Egypt Egypt,” as well as other songs by Professor X (aka Arabian Prince), World Class Wreckin’ Crew, LA Dream Team and The Unknown DJ.
However, these were just the names I could figure out and buy at the Record Town store in the mall or Sam’s Jams on 9 Mile Rd. What would always intrigue me the most were the dope instrumentals (maybe they might have a one-liner that repeated) that the DJs NEVER mentioned, but you heard every week. “What’s the track that goes dmm da dmmm dmmmm/ dmm da dmmm dmmmmmmm?,” I’d ask a hapless record store clerk.
Some of them like Cajmere’s “Percolator,” Eon’s “Spice” (a European oddity) were easier to track down, but I didn’t hear about joints like “Cosmic Raindance” by Cybotron or “In Synch” by Fade to Black until I started copping wax (a couple of true Detroit classics there).
And think about this. This is coming from someone who actively seeks out the music I love. Most of the people that truly enjoyed this music in its prime (read: those that were partying and getting laid instead of taping radio programs), will never know the names of all these songs and Time Life will almost certainly never compile them, not that you would probably want to hear these tracks unmixed in their entirety.
So if you noticed, I still haven’t told you what genre of music I’m talking about here. Maybe it’s because no one ever told me!
Booty, Detroit Booty, Booty House, Ghetto Tech, freak music, mix music… I’ve heard so many terms used to describe it, but I’ve never heard it replicated, but it was almost the fucking exclusive soundtrack to the city in the midst of the 1990s.
Keep in mind that most of my DJ career (1997 to present) has been centered on the type of rap music that almost no one in the world gives a crap about, so I may not have a lot of “credibility” in the eyes of some when it comes to breaking down this unique amalgamation of genres. I’ll put it this way, I’m a fan who can spin records really well and the first summer I had turntables I made it my mission to finally cop all these classics on wax. The thing is, I rarely spun them in public before about 2007. Before I did Elevation with DJ Graffiti and Buff 1 in Ann Arbor, none of the little hip hop spots I played at seemed appropriate to play something like “JPE Live” by Jam Pony Express (the crux of any booty set, btw).
That having been said, I’m glad to break this down for you from my perspective as a fan.
Pre-1996, what I prefer to call “Detroit Booty Music” was a unique blend of Detroit Techno (records like “Time Space Transmat” by Model 500), Chicago Ghetto House (records like Eric Martin’s “Hit It From the Back”) and Miami Bass (a record like “Gold Diggin’ Hoes” by MC Nas D and DJ Freaky Fred, for example). There was always random stuff thrown in for fun too – maybe a random R&B bass remix, a double-time down south hip hop track, “This Is How We Do It (instrumental)” by Montell Jordan played at 45RPM or the acapella to “Elevator Up and Down” by Interactive.
There was even a TV Show “The New Dance Show” on Channel 62 that showcased dancers “jitting,” high schools (my own Ferndale High represented one time) and DJs like Tooshay and Jesse the Body spinning this music. It was like a Detroit version of Soul Train (Miss Energy > any Soul Train Dancer).
I always liked this stuff, but there was one mixtape that made me fall in love with this style. “Volume 8” by DJ Wax Tax-N Dre. I dubbed it off this kid who used to ride with us to Taco Bell on lunch hour and it was the craziest thing I’d ever heard. It started out like a regular booty mix, then it got faster, the mixes got quicker and by the last 15 minutes of side B there was an airhorn and an announcement of ‘”The Graaaannnd Finale!”
To say this was a four-track outro would be the biggest understatement ever. To give you an example of four records that would be blending at the same time: “The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind)” by Bucketheads, “If I Ever Fall in Love (acapella) “ by Shai, “Bounce Your Body To The Box” by Reese & Santonio and the aforementioned “Time Space Transmat,” at least one of these may have been played at 45RPM.
As volumes of Wax Tax-N Dre tapes progressed, the grand finale would get longer. First, the whole B-side and eventually the whole tape would be in that style.
Around the spring of ’96, I started hearing original tracks by Detroit DJs like Godfather (who is the one who showed me what pitch control was on the turntables at Record Time) and Assault started creeping into the mix. While Godfather’s seemed more electro-bass-inspired at first, both DJs were dominating with tracks that featured the one-liners of Chicago records (DJ Assault’s “Same Hoe,” for example) and sometimes Miami-stye rap verses, but set to funkier Detroit Techno-esque beats (think Juan Atkins, not Richie Hawtin). They were almost the perfect mixture of the previous Detroit, Miami and Chicago sounds. Like a mixtape inside a track. It was shortly after that others like Disco D (RIP) emerged and I started to hear the term “Ghetto Tech.”
I’ll back up for a second. Around the time I discovered Wax Tax-N Dre tapes, some raver kids I knew put me up on DJ Funk tapes. Funk was from Chicago and made a lot of my favorite tracks that I heard Detroit DJs play. He was also a dope DJ. His mixtape at the time ‘Freaky Style” though was exclusively Chicago Ghetto House tracks. It was cool and put me up on a few joints I hadn’t heard, but it lacked the funk and flavor of the Detroit sound I was used to. 60 minutes of basically the same beat didn’t make for regular listening.
Miami had a rich DJ history with Ghetto Style DJs, Jam Pony and other DJ crews cutting uptempo breaks, DJs “pulling down” the volume and creating their own routines on the fly. There were a lot of dope records that came out of Miami back then and for the most part could also stand on their own outside of a DJ set.
Detroit DJs took the best from Miami- and Chicago-style records and mixed it with the Detroit Techno to create the booty sound, much in the fashion that Flash, Bam or Herc created hip hop from funk, soul, jazz, disco and rock breaks.
Coming back to the emergence of “Ghetto Tech’ records, I liken them to the early rap records in that they try to incorporate a whole night or partying (and perhaps an entire culture) into one three-minute track. Sometimes with great success, other times with bland results.
Within a couple years, through the late ‘90s and early “00s, many DJs sets had shifted from the old hodgepodge-style (as my homie Radd 1 once called it) to straight-ahead Ghetto Tech, which was cool and had its moments – tales of “check stubs,” “mouths blew out,” “player hatin’ girls,” “bustos with you and all your friends,” but by itself gave me the same blah feeling after awhile that the Chicago tapes did. It just wasn’t as funky. To be fair, Miami bass had died out and Chicago DJs (DJ Slugo, for example) were releasing records on Detroit labels, so the scene – as a whole – kind of shifted to an emphasis on Detroit, which is not a bad thing.
After about ’98, I lost track of a lot of this music. I wasn’t close to Detroit for a few years there and wasn’t hip to the scene anymore. I have heard of a Juke vs Jit documentary (Chicago vs. Detroit dance styles) that I probably need to see but haven’t bothered to.
I think I’m just stubborn and want to spin and hear this music the way I want to remember it, and as with hip hop, have very little desire to stay current if means pretending to like music I don’t like.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this and I truly can’t wait to share this mix with you. It (or this blog post) is not by any means a definitive history of the genre, just me playing and writing about the records I love. If I can’t spark some old memories, I’d like to help create some new ones.