Red Bull Music Academy presents United States of Bass

Bass is the place. In this unique summit of sub-loving trailblazers, we bring together the very pioneers of America’s most influential regional bass music styles. From New York’s own DJ Afrika Bambaataa to LA’s Egyptian Lover, from Detroit’s ghettotech godfather DJ Assault to Chicago’s juke and footwork heroes DJ Spinn and DJ Rashad, New Orleans bounce queen Big Freedia, Baltimore’s Scottie B, Orlando’s DJ Magic Mike, Chicago vet DJ Funk, and current bass music innovators Drop The LimeSalva and Branko of Buraka Som Sistema. Expect two floors, 808 beats and one nation under a… BASS.

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Afrika Bambaataa

The debate over the birthplace of hip hop should have never happened in the first place, as the original Zulu King and godfather of hip hop was and always will be from “the South Bronx, the South-South Bronx”. One of the early champions of breakbeat DJing, Bambaataa was instrumental in the birth of electro-funk and the Universal Zulu Nation, a global network promoting creativity over gang violence that is still active to this day. Ruling the ’80s with two seminal MCs and DJ crews (Jazzy 5 and Soulsonic Force), Bambaataa laced tracks like “Jazzy Sensation,” “Renegades Of Funk,” the über-classic ”Planet Rock,” or “UNITY” (with James Brown). And on top of looking for the perfect beat for 30 years and counting, Bambaataa currently holds a three-year appointment as a visiting scholar at Cornell University. Each one teach one… and you don’t stop.

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Egyptian Lover

Egyptian Lover is a legend in certain circles but a mystery to most, an artist who was in deep with most of the west coast hip hop scene before the gangsta sound came along. Born Greg Broussard, Egyptian Lover was a rapper, DJ, and producer who was hugely influenced by the New York electro scene, as well as by the electro-funk of Zapp. This was flat-out party music: a little bit corny, but dynamite on the dancefloor. Although he began associating with Uncle Jamm’s Army and Radio Crew, it was as a solo artist that he made his impact. “Egypt Egypt” (1984) was an LA anthem and his On the Nile was one of the first hip hop albums released on the left coast. Although he never regained that prominence once gangsta rap swept all before it, his early works have become staples of electro sets across the world.

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DJ Magic Mike

Would there be Miami bass without DJ Magic Mike? Maybe. But we wouldn’t want to imagine it. After working under the yoke of a producer who rarely deigned to credit his productions for rappers in the late ’80s, Mike broke out with a host of singles in 1988 on the then-unknown Cheetah Records. The subsequent run of work has since gone down in history as some of the most inspiring (and booty-shaking) bass music ever recorded, with albums like DJ Magic Mike and the Royal Posse and Bass Is the Name of the Game. (The latter went gold, an amazing fact when you consider that the album is largely instrumental.) Mike has always stretched out, however, often looking to rappers to add verses to his beats. That said, he’ll always be remembered as a producer that helped—along with 2 Live Crew—to take a regional style national, busting a few speakers along the way.

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DJ Assault

“In the club and on the streets, I keep bangin’ the beat.” This quote, found on the frontpage of DJ Assault’s website, is as good of a starting place as any when describing what it is that makes him so special. Born Craig De Sean Adams and raised in Detroit, DJ Assault came to dance music like many of his Motown brethren, via the radio. Growing up in the crucible of techno left its mark. Assault’s best known for popularizing ghetto-tech, a brand of dance music that focuses squarely on the bass. Assault’s DJ sets feature quick and dirty mixing, and the many records he’s made are quick and dirty, too. “Ass ‘N’ Titties” is probably his best-known hit, but you can easily guess what “Crank This Mutha,” “Sex on the Beach,” and “Sumthin’ 2 Shake Yo’ Azz 2” are about as well. Just listen for the beat—Assault is no doubt bangin’ it somewhere.

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DJ Funk

Pioneer, ghetto-house icon, Chi-town legend. Growing up on the musically rich west side of the Windy City, DJ Funk was exposed to Chicago, New York, and Detroit dance music at an early age. Building on these influences, he got his start as teenage DJ playing house parties, school dances, and neighborhood clubs, selling mixtapes in the ’hood with his former Do or Die crew. A hip hop head at heart, Funk was among the first to push rap music into Chicago’s club scene, laying the foundation for the sound most commonly associated with his name. Mixing house, techno, and hip hop, Funk pioneered what became known as ghetto house or booty house—the motherless child of a genre by conviction, decidedly rude and uncompromising to any dancefloor attendant. Anthem upon anthem speckles his résumé, oftentimes released on his very own label Dance Mania Records. Plus, Funk’s remix sheet reads like the who’s who of dance music: Basement Jaxx, Justice, DJ Sneak, Fast Eddie, and many, many more. Shake it just a little bit faster for a legend of underground dance music.

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Scottie B

Scottie B can’t be touched. Taking the raw energy of the Baltimore club sound and developing it into unstoppable sonics that can rock a dancefloor at 50 paces the world over is no mean feat. Alongside fellow pioneers DJ Spen, DJ Equaliser, Frank-Ski, and Miss Tony, Scottie B condensed the urgency of the Baltimore streets into surefire musical ammo, able to turn a party out with the sound of a single 808 clap. Blessed with an ability to flip breaks and vocals into super-charged bombs, Scottie B and the Baltimore club sound has been causing mass disruption since the ‘90s, before the frenetic breakbeat fever really took hold in the rest of the States. As well as producing anthems like “All About Pussy” or “Much Too Much” with DJ Equaliser, Scottie B’s Unruly Records has been keeping tabs on who’s who in the B-more club scene since 1993. As we hear new producers take the sound in their own directions, we also acknowledge that it’s Scottie B who gave Baltimore its own sound in the first place.

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DJ Rashad

Though simmering for years in the stew of Chicago’s nascent footwork and juke scene, the sound of DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn’s frenetic 808 programming and deftly sliced R&B loops turned into an epidemic, informing the trajectory of club music the world over. Their skills behind the turntables, honed from years of after-school footwork battles, provided the perfect soundtrack for adrenaline-fueled, 160-bpm dance mayhem. In 2013, Rashad was enlisted for releases on Kode 9’s Hyperdub, serving as yet another step in taking the sound of Chicago’s juke movement global. He was only able to see some of the fruits of that labor, however: Tragically, a year later, Rashad’s life was cut short at the age of 34.

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DJ Spinn

Though simmering for years in the stew of Chicago’s nascent footwork and juke scene, the sound of Spinn and Rashad’s frenetic 808 programming and deftly sliced R&B loops has turned into an epidemic, informing the trajectory of club music the world over. Their skills behind the turntables, honed from years playing after-school footwork battles, provide the perfect soundtrack for adrenaline-fueled, 160-bpm dance mayhem.

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Big Freedia

In a place where bounce is not so much of an agitating musical genre but a religious, treasured way of life, Big Freedia has established herself as the scene’s undisputed Queen Diva. A New Orleans representative through and through, Freedia has cultivated the art form of sissy rap (southern slang for, and this is a quote, “biological men with varied and ambiguous sexual identities”) which explicitly takes the attitude and contextual markers of gay and cross-dressing culture to the relentless grooves of down south rap and bounce music. And Freedia works a tight schedule: besides running a decoration business and playing live up to six times a week with her set of dancers (the Divas) and her trusty DJ Rusty Lazer, the former college choir director has scored minor hit singles with “Gin In My System” and “Azz Everywhere!,” released two much-noticed full-length albums, An Ha, Oh Yeah (1999) and Queen Diva (2003), and has played alongside everyone from the Rapture to Snoop Dogg to Spank Rock.

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Salva might have been a serial remixer these last couple of years, but that’s only because he’s managed to get his set-up of Moogs, ARPs, pedals, and drum-machine sounds into one big family and let them argue it out among themselves. Originally hailing from Chicago, Salva landed on the west coast after moving around the States, and became an integral part of the thriving local beats scene. His label Frite Nite has proved he has an ear for future classics, having released two EPs from future boogie wizard B. Bravo, while his excellent debut album Complex Housing displayed a remarkable affinity for spacious beats, panoramic pads, and the kind of arpeggiator wizardry that makes freaks come out at night. Having linked up with the WeDidIt/Friends of Friends conglomerate, Salva is also part of the dream team that currently has the hip hop–infused portion of the North American club circuit on lock. Maybe that‘s also why Salva‘s 2013 EP debut for FoF, Odd Furniture, ended up sounding like pure momentum chased down a bass blender.

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Drop The Lime

Luca Venezia, aka Drop The Lime, has released on labels like TigerBeat6, Mad Decent, Institubes, and Ministry of Sound, and held a celebrated residency at London’s Fabric, but his real homebase will always be New York City. With his Trouble & Bass crew and label behind him, he’s been at the heart of a scene that drops bass-heavy tunes left, right, and center, with eclectic tastes running from Sonic Youth to ’50s doo-wop. Having fans Diplo and A-Trak, as well as doing remixes for Rex the Dog, Robyn and Buraka Som Sistema, makes for a rather impressive résumé alone, but he’s also been setting the scene on fire with a number of banging singles, and gigs all across the world. In 2012, Luca dropped not the lime, but his third LP, Enter The Night, on Ultra Records—his first full-length in six years. An essential entry in the big, heavy book of bass music.

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Academy alumnus João Barbosa is one of the cofounders of and the producer for Lisbon-based outfit Buraka Som Sistema—that missing link between baile funk, kuduro, UK hardcore, tropical rave, and Baltimore club. Songs like “Kalemba,” “Yah!” or, more recently, “Hangover,” are showcases for their modern, globalized take on the Angolan kuduro movement, for which they’ve received an MTV Europe Music Award. Championed by the likes of Diplo, Santigold, Switch, and M.I.A.—who they’ve also collaborated with—BSS’s live show is the stuff of legend, leading to rapturous receptions at stages from Coachella to Sónar and beyond. João also heads up the Enchufada label, with releases from everyone from Schlachthofbronx and Toy Selectah to Luanda’s DJ Znobia, and cooks up his very own brand of electronic riot music under his Branko moniker. It’s the sound of Lisbon knocking at your door!

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Krampfhaft is one of those rare breed of producers that can bottle dancefloor delirium into frequency-precise accuracy. His EP Makin’ Magic on Rwina Records united many of the different crews operating on the vast frontier of cutting-edge club sonics, finding fans from Los Angeles’ Brainfeeder crew to Glasgow’s Numbers gang. We can’t tell whether Krampfhaft’s visionary blend of dubby juke and experimental electronics would have been appreciated by an interplanetary sage like Carl Sagan, but his mixture of styles could only have been made with an open, intercontinental mindset. During daylight hours, Krampfhaft works as a sound designer in Utrecht, and his strange melodies and intricate textures reside somewhere in the twilight zone between disco wrecker and sonic sculptor—his is the kind of magic that brings statues to life.

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