In the 1990’s, the US Soulful House music scene was at its zenith worldwide. Coming out of its raw, precocious age of the late 80’s, US Soulful House (termed “Underground”, back then) competed vigorously with Rap and R&B, even to the point of an ill-fated marriage between Rap and House that had some shining moments as Hip-House. Major labels were snatching up the more consistent Soulful House music artists, regional sounds from Chicago, Jersey, Detroit, Baltimore and NYC became more sophisticated with accompanying music videos. Underground clubs dotted the northeast and were responsible for breaking regional hits that ultimately became national hits then worldwide anthems reinforced by radio stations that had its finger on the pulse of the underground. Big, powerhouse “gospel-sounding” vocals, sophisticated R&B rhythms and melodies over a “four-to-the-floor” beat often times with message-oriented lyrics that reflected the social, political, spiritual and psychological climate of the times. The tracks-oriented tunes of the period were more than just DJ tools but were genre defining gems.
Chicago native, DJ, Producer, Songwriter, Baltimore planted DJ Pope came into his own in the within the underground House and Soulful House music scene of the 90’s. His affinity for the vocal performance is evident in his DJ sets and the music he creates. Pope has put together an interesting retrospective of eleven 90’s underground Soulful House jewels (some of his “favorites”) that didn’t quite reach the massive commercial successes of 90’s Soulful House tunes we now deem “classics” but were strong dance-floor stompers that were certainly contenders for club land “anthems”. The B-More bred, Charles Dockins’ Project 4007 featuring James Howard and Joe Wormly, “It's Our Turn” opens up this 90’s excursion that truly epitomize the male tenor vocal styling of genre, “Reachin” by LNR produced by Chi-town’s, Larry Thompson and Rick Lenoir is powerful testament to the minimalist deep soul vocal, Brothers In The Struggle’s (Pope and POJI Record label partner, DJ Oji), “Come Together” and its “Little Kids Dub Bonus Track” is one among the many “socially conscious songs” of the era done in the traditional uptempo R&B Dance vernacular, The Baltimore Soul Tree featuring Sande illuminates with “Hope In Your Soul”, a DJ Oji and Charles Dockins creation, shows the emergence of a more edger electro sound under a melodic sway as Sande delivers the happy, uplifting lyrics like a summer breeze, the moody feel of Leslie Joy’s “What Is Happiness” is by far one of the most subtle, exquisitely haunting songs of the 90’s Soulful House genre.
Producer Billy Jack Williams featuring the legendary Jeanie Tracy (one of Sylvester’s featured backup vocalists) rocks with “Call It Love”, rumbling sub bass and whining organs, it is one hi-octane, “get down” track, the incomparable and very underrated, Maydie Myles, a powerhouse vocalist highly respected by true soulful Vocal House music lovers shines here with the insistent, energy packed, “Keep On Luvin’ You” produced by soulful baron, Kingley O. Doug Smith and Richard Payton, the mighty duo that make up of the forthright production team, 95 North hits hard with ”The Pressure”. It’s a smokin’ dance floor grabber that exemplifies some of the character traits of the track-oriented cuts that dotted the scene: deep heavy bass, a throbbing 4/4 kick and the inventive use of vocal samples & melodic snippets.
Often times repetitive and used as DJ tools; however, tracks like “The Pressure” were the standout cuts that became the “cookie cutter” manufactured “track” sound (in a good way) for those “track-only” producers (and producers in general) represented in the last two “track based” tunes on the compilation, Kingsley O’s.,”The Hard Key Track” and Blunted Dummies, “House For All” staples within the set of any DJ worth their salt in the 90’s Soulful House music underground.
The 90’s House Music, Volume 1 is an intriguing retrospective of this period in the history of Soulful House music. DJ Pope skirts past the popular, familiar and typical presenting the true essence of the genre. A deep, moody, melodic, groove-laden, happy, socially conscious and inspirational sound that instilled a sense of hope and optimism over a pulsating 4-to-the-floor beat drawing from the various subgenres of the Black Music Experience.
By Christopher Flowers
released July 18, 2017
1. LNR "Reachin" (Extended Vocal dub)Produced by Larry Thompson & Rick Lenoir, Written b7 R. Lenoir & L. Thompson. House Jam Records 1993
2. Brothers In The Struggle "Come Together" Produced by DjPope, Written by DjPope & Nicole Love for Pope Pump Muzick ASCAP. (Little Kids Dub) Emotive Records 1992 ***Bonus Track
3. Brothers In The Struggle "Come Together" Produced by DjPope, Written by DjPope & Nicole Love for Pope Pump Muzick ASCAP. (Dockins Come On Mix) Emotive Records 1992
4.Billy "Jack" Williams Ft. Jeanie Tracy "Call It Love" (4007 Mix)Produced, Written and Mixed by Billy "Jack" Williams for Critical House Mylo Blue Publishing Productions DC 10 Records 1996
5. Blunted Dummies "House For All" Produced by Shawn Caesar & Ty James. Dj Boy Records 1992
6. Leslie Joy "What Is Happiness" (D & T Mix) Produced by Dino & Terry Demopoulos, Shem Ali,Written by Shem Ali, Vocals by Val Timothy, Crash Records 1995
7. Project 4007 Ft. James Howard & Joe Wormly "It's Our Turn" (LP Version) Produced, Mixed by Charles Dockins, Written by C. Dockins, J. Howard, & J.Wormly Vocals by James Howard & Joe Wormly Emotive Records 1993
8. DC Track Team "Pressure" (Metro Mix) Produced For 95 North Productions by Doug "Lone" Dog & Richard "Party" Payton, Emotive Music,Party Payton Music,Dungeon Culture Music. Emotive Records 1993
9. Maydie Myles "Keep On Luvin" (Deep Luv Mix)Composed by. Produced,Egineer,Mixed by Kingsley O. Lead Vocals,Backing Vocals
10. Baltimore Soul Tree "Hope In Your Soul" (C-Dock & Oji Original Extended Mix) Produced,Written by Charles Dockins & DjOji, Vocals by Sande Velocity Recordings 1998
11. Kingsley O. "The Hard Key Track" (Deeper Keys Mix) Composed by. Performer,Producer, Mixed by Kingsley O. K4B Records 1995
Compiled and mixed by DjPope
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