It’s no surprise that I am obsessed with club music for those that truly know me or actively follow me. Whether it be Jersey or Baltimore club, house music or ballroom/vogue, it’s challenging for me to satisfy my craving; I always
want need more. A wise person/artist once told me, “don’t be greedy with your music. Don’t think you know it all or have it all; there’s always someone else out there with deeper crates than you.” Yet, in the same breath, this person also said, “but you’ll also have a lot of music some people don’t have.” And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I’m sharing ten artists–in alphabetical order–that produce some bomb club music: you should know them.
He wasn’t one of my “artist spotlights” for no reason, although his artistic progression has excelled far beyond what I had envisioned upon first interviewing this Jersey-based producer (with all due respect). “Slow & steady wins the race,” seems to be his unofficial motto, carefully selecting vocals to sample and resisting the urge to release a track every other week. Mr. Manual knows the scene far too well, having worked under a different moniker back in the days of which he collaborated with some of the greatest of all time. He’s also kept his ear to the street by not only producing and DJing, but also by hosting and producing a very eccentric radio show featuring some off the hottest tastemakers in the club scene. If anyone is “in the know”, it’s him and his various tracks on Soundcloud are the proof for the non-believers or new fans. Some of his sounds, while club-based, have an eery, dark feel like “Mata Hari” or his “Silver Cloak” remix, showcasing his versatility. Other tracks–“Collide” remix and “Man x Woman” edit–highlight the smoothness of the r&b genre that is a staple in most Jersey Club sounds. He’s constantly sharing the spotlight with his peers and friends, while also steering the whip into a totally different lane. Just when you thought he couldn’t “WOW” you with a track, he drops another one…and another one…. and another one.
He’s taken a little hiatus after his “Why You Always Lying” remix and hit, and I’ve found myself with an unfilled void. There was a time, when I actually had time to delve into the Soundcloud pit, when all I wanted to hear was Based Prince, the young Carteret, NJ-based producer. While I have an abundance of Jersey Club tracks in my Serato, there’s literally (in my opinion) no competition for this particular producer. Sampling very few, yet enough famous videos/vines to satisfy the trend followers, he’s mastered the art of being selective and not jumping the gun to remix the most viral thing. He’s meticulous, well thought out, and definitely a perfectionist. Having these high standards, he also raises the bar in terms of how sexy he can remix something, while still keeping it very much Jersey-based. His production style is simple, yet mind blowing–flashy, but subtle. The clarity of his tracks are untouchable, which also pushes him higher on my Jersey Club producer list; there are plenty of producers that knock out dancefloor-ready tracks, but the mastering is all off (causing a lot of speakers to blow). He’s very lowkey, which definitely intensifies the need for him to get back on the scene and deliver us another banger. All I can say is, don’t sleep on the kid.
BYRELL the Great is one of the hottest Vogue/Ballroom producers in the game right now, hands down. “What I do varies. One day you’ll get a track from me that is dramatic, and another day you’ll get something that has more of a soft and cunt feel to it. Either way, my tunes are going to make you feel it deep down inside” (full interview). Getting his start back in 2012, he’s easily one of the leading DJs and producers in the kiki ballroom scene, creating music for a crowd that has no limits or boundaries in the best way possible. His sounds are vibrant, entrancing, and definitely freaky/sexual. His fearless attitude and in-your-face confidence is his best asset, but they’re only a supplement to the greatest thing about him: his creativity. He creates tracks that make it easy for any DJ to mix into their set, which is one of the most important things any producer can do to get their sounds out there. Sweating out weaves, laying out bodies on the floor, and giving everyone a bit more exercise in their life, his tracks make it nearly impossible to sit still. He’s held his own alongside tastemakers including Mike Q, Jubilee and Venus X and can be spotted at some of the coolest events you never knew existed. Look up the definition of “cunty” in Urban Dictionary; I’m sure he’s used as an example.
I asked a handful of friends, who are also producers and DJs, to give me some of their favorite producers that WERE NOT men and this one name kept coming up: Ducky. I’d already been following her on Soundcloud, probably from a repost or article, and had her on my radar, but what stuck out to me the most about her was that everyone I had questioned named her in their top three. Come to find out, she got her start doing this from a class project: something I can relate to all too well. She even codes, but that’s besides the point. Take a peak at her Soundcloud, and you’ll get all types of sounds, melodies and moods. While she does make some hyperactive club music and dabbles in the juke sound, she has an equal amount of sounds that I’d add to my 1:41AM playlist. You can also definitely hear the influence from her “early DeadMau5 and Benny Bennasi” days in some of her tracks. When she’s not producing some of the most intense sounds I’ve heard (or defining them), she’s co-hosting a weekly radio show… I’m starting to think I have a predisposition for radio hosts… Either way, check her out–she’s super kawaii.
DJ Green Lantern once told me, “hard work beats talent, when talent aint working,” and I’ve kept this quote in my head ever since. I cannot think of anyone this applies to on this list more than the Elizabeth-NJ based producer: Gutta Cartel. It’s undeniable that his talent exceeds his age and “experience” by a landslide; however, he’s a testimony for all of those that are incredulous when it comes to road blocks or boundaries. Whether it’s ‘Dirty Jersey Sprite‘ or any of his many singles/remixes, Gutta Cartel is not afraid to play around with all of his musical influences–trap, r&b, indie, club–and he’s proactive when it comes to his craft, working with everyone from Brenmar to Nadus to Key!. At 21 years old, he’s already secured a residency at the monthly #HOTACTiON party series in addition to all of the collaborations he’s knocked out. His dedication to improvement goes unmatched, while his humble approach leads him to the “right places at the right time” naturally. His live sets are cautious, as he makes sure to feel the crowd first before just jumping into the speaker-blaring exclusives he’s going to drop, because he will drop at least ten (if not more) tracks nobody has ever even heard of or has in their Serato. He’s an inspiration to many and tough competition to most, but isn’t that the best part about music?
While this list would be nothing without any Baltimore club, I couldn’t just put any producer. Respect where it’s due, but HI$TO is one of the most progressive and/or futuristic club producers I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. The Baltimore-based producer’s sound gets a nice touch from his Houston upbringing, blending your more traditional “bmore” sounds with unique synths and vocals. “When I’m producing a track I might add spaced-out elements from chopped and screwed music I grew up on, and blend that raw Baltimore sound with it,” he told THUMP. HI$TO enjoys dabbling all over the club sounds from Philly club to Jersey club, but, when he puts his final touches on it, you know it’s his…and you know it’s mainly Baltimore-influenced. His name’s always on someone’s timeline whether it’s a track or an invitation to his PSYCHD party series, which have to be the best thing to happen to today’s Baltimore club scene. Did I mention he’s also played out at some of the coolest festivals including Trillectro? If anyone knows how to truly get down, it’s HI$TO, and this list wouldn’t be accurate without him.
The Bronx gets slept on far too much, but thankfully it has producer Kush Jones to spice things up for everyone. Submerging most of his sounds in the footwork/juke/bounce scene, Kush Jones shows off his incredible chopping skills. When it comes to production, he consistently finds ways to approach his remixes different each time; no two of his tracks sound the same even if you think all juke does. Mr. Jones keeps his music refreshing and innovative, making me want to hear it at Webster Hall’s basement during House Party or something. He’s flexed his skills sampling current hip hop and r&b, but he’s not afraid to take it “back in the days” to appeal to more than one crowd. Congratulations are also in order, as he was recently inducted into the Juke Bounce Werk collective. Now, only time will tell what he’s got in store for us next.
Sha Sha Kimbo, one of LA’s more well-rounded producers, is a landmine waiting to be touched. Just scroll through her Soundcloud page and you’ll find an open vault of different weapons to kill the club. Labeled as one of LA’s leading act in the underground scene (Nest HQ), Sha Sha is definitely someone you should have on your “people to listen to” list. Bouncing from different sub genres in the club scene–juke, warehouse, 90’s rave, techno, etc.–Sha Sha lets her music do the stuntin’ and shows how easy it is to be immersed in different sounds, while also remaining true to your craft. She lets her creativity flow down to the deeper side of club and house, while also remaining extremely active above the surface in the cyber sound. While Sha Sha definitely works hard, she plays even harder, running her own club night and hosting a weekly radio show. Gracing the stages of some of the hottest underground-LA parties, she opens more doors than she’s given credit for, which is why she had to be on this list.
“Traxxx Romay is all about hard femme vibes and queer empowerment,” and I’m so here for it. Hailing all of the way from Killa City aka Kansas City, MO, Traxxx Romay is creating a sub genre of her own with her “Banjee Couture” tag, sounding like juke meets vogue meets a whole bunch of baby making on the dance floor courtesy of Jersey Club samples. Her tracks have appeared on both Knightwerk Records and Tiny Mixtapes, which everyone that’s anyone knows hosts some of the hottest club tracks out there. Similar to BYRELL the GREAT’s “cunty” sound, Traxxx plays with a lot of the similar sounds, while also including sissy rappers into the mix. She’s as “underground” as they come with not much about her on the Internet, but all you need to do is press play and I’m sure you’ll be following her on all social platforms to learn more.