When Beyoncé and Drake put house music back at the center of the dance floor

When Beyoncé and Drake put house music back at the center of the dance floor


Exit rap and R’n’B: sn their latest releases, Drake and Beyoncé, in search of renewal, are inspired by house music, a style in vogue on the dance floor in the 1990s. The Canadian was the first with the album Honestly, Nevermind June 17, four days before Break my soulsingle from the American.

I’m a little flabbergasted: who saw that coming?“, comments David Blot, French journalist and organizer in the 90s of the famous house parties Respect, exported from Paris to New York. “drake with Passionfruit (2017) touched a bit on house but, here, it’s shocking, in a good way. And, Beyoncé, it’s downright dance, even if Formation (2016) already had some house colors“, continues the co-author of the graphic novel The song of the machinededicated to the history of house music.

The two stars are well placed in the charts, despite a sometimes difficult reception. Because some, through ignorance, did not perceive in this gesture the homage to the forgotten African-American pioneers of this musical current. Drake was thus targeted on social networks, against a backdrop of supposed betrayal of the African-American community (from which his father came). Like this tweet: “What is this Drake album for white people? This is for EDM clubs“.

EDM, “Electronic dance music”, is an expression that picks up the most commercial electro music. In the 1990s, Ace of Base, a Swedish group with hits, was one of the symbols of what is also called Eurodance, an outgrowth of house.

But Questlove, American drummer of The Roots, a true musical bible, has refocused the debate on its social networks, starting to the rescue of “D&B”, either Drake and Beyoncé. The musician first denounces a “disdain“towards the importance of black culture in electro. And says he is happy”let D&B lead the charge“. Because house music was invented by African-American DJ-producers.

She was born precisely in Chicago in the 1980s, at The Warehouse club where Frankie Knuckles, African-American DJ-producer who died in 2014, officiated. The anecdote is famous. One day, Knuckles sees on the front of a bar: “Here we play house music“. He asks the person who accompanies him what it means: “That’s the music you play at the Warehouse, Frankie!“At the time, the regulars of the club met at the”House“, diminutive of the Warehouse. Knuckles said modestly: “People didn’t want disco anymore, we gave them another music“.

Knuckles, a name fallen into oblivion in the United States, like those of other of his peers, Ron Hardy, Marshall Jefferson (and his famous The House Music Anthem Move Your Body, above) or Larry Heard aka Mr Fingers (below). “In the USA, this music remained indifferent for a long time, probably because of the links with the black, Latino, gay communities of the scenes of New York, Chicago or Detroit (techno, for this city)“, completes David Blot, voice of the Radio Nova station in France.

In Break my soulBeyoncé samples a dance music standard from the 90s, Show me Love by Robin S. What to wonder if the future album of Queen B, Renaissance, announced for July 29, will be entirely house.

In any case, the album will sound very clubby, according to the indices of Vogue, the only media to have had the privilege of listening to the disc at the singer’s. For the photo shoot, she wanted to evoke “the 90s garage scene” and the “80s excess“, according to the magazine. Garage house is a musical branch that refers to Paradise Garage, a mythical New York club of the 70s and 80s where Larry Levan (who died in 1992), African-American DJ, Knuckles’ mentor, officiated.

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