The DJs They Couldn’t Hang
by Stuart Cosgrove
Originally published in the NME, August 9, 1986
(See whole story in the archives at DJhistory.com)
House music is dedicated. There are one or two releases which have the familiarity that hit records depend on, but most of them are for the dedicated. It is meta-music, a sound that constantly refers outwards to other sounds
House music is far from original, it’s a celebration of ten years of club music, strung out and remixed. If the last ten years of club music say nothing about your life then House music will be a massive disappointment, but if you feel club music communicates then smile for the hangman.
Frankie Knuckles, Farley Jackmaster Funk, radio mixers The Hot Mix 5 and young mixers like DJ Pope and Jackmaster House have transformed the DJ’s actions into an art: the aesthetics of house. Record decks, found sounds, simple drum machines, snatched backing tracks, sound effects and samplers are brought together to create live music from records, These in the words of current controversy are the ultimate musicians: the DJs they couldn’t hang. The House Mix style is creative, brash, extreme, dub crazy and soulful in the most modern and technological sense, The DJ becomes a creator and the hangman just an artisan performing two-bit rope tricks.
It’s the sound Chicago invented by borrowing from everywhere else.
Also See Cosgrove On the Wheels of Steal (1987)
House has broken the mould forever. The first theft as exploitation, one-way cultural traffic in which the authentic voice of black America was taken and toned down. But that was then and this is now. In 1987, theft is emancipatory, the traffic flows in both directions, every tune is a victim and every musician has the ability to mug a passer-by.