“Soul Sonic Force was EDM, man! Electronic Dance Music, man,” Hot 97’s Ebro Darden once exclaimed on his morning radio show with Peter Rosenberg and Laura Stylez. “Made on a computer. Kraftwerk was EDM, man. Art of Noise was EDM, man!” And while Rosenberg teased Ebro for sounding like an old man stuck in the past, the old man had a point. The love affair between hip hop and dance music has been going on long before all these EDM DJs began remixing your favorite hip hop songs of today, and it makes sense.
DJing itself began from hip hop and if you watch anyone breakdance, you’d see that they’d feel right at home breaking out those dance moves at a rave. And while the Soul Sonic Forces and Kraftwerks of the world deserve infinite props for their contributions to dance music, there are still artists today who are pushing the boundaries of the genre by incorporating elements from both electronic music and hip hop. Here are the artists who do it best:
The man with the hands that move faster than the speed of light, the Travis Barker of the MPC, Abraham Orellana is indeed a special talent. He made his name in hip hop by producing hits for Ludacris, Dipset, Cassidy, Young Jeezy, Fabolous and many more.
More recently he’s brought his talents to the festival stages, but instead of using CDJs, he uses his MPC drum machine to create/manipulate beats live. The performance method makes for quite a unique listening experience and often leaves people awestruck (see below).
Nothing says hip hop more than a MPC. There is something significant about the fact that Araabmuzik is using the same tool Pete Rock used to make hip hop classics to make thousands of EDM enthusiasts lose their minds.
2. Spank Rock
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Naeem Juwan (rapper), XXXchange (producer) and Alex Rockswell (DJ) together make up the group Spank Rock. They draw heavy influence from the Baltimore club scene with shameless, hyper-sexual lyrics rapped over electro breakbeats and booty bass records – slightly reminiscent of the 2 Live Crew, which is awesome.
The best word to describe Spank Rock’s style is “freedom.” Naeem isn’t afraid to rap about stealing your girlfriend or your boyfriend and has cited local super hero drag queen MC Miss Tony as one of his major influences after seeing her perform at his best friend’s Bar Mitzvah at the age of 12.
Today, Naeem releases music under his own label, Bad Blood Records, and his songs have been remixed by Boys Noize, Brodinski, and Ryme to name a few.
3. Hudson Mohawke
If you don’t recognize the name Hudson Mohawke, you will recognize his songs. The Scottish producer is one of the premier producers in the Electronic realm and he is largely responsible for Kanye West’s “Blood On The Leaves” – see Hudson Mohawke and Lunice production duo TNGHT’s “R U Ready.”
While Hudmo has moved more towards electronic music, he too can throw down a classic hip- hop set. His latest project, “Lantern,” features some nu-disco vibes with his signature horns, of course.
4. Danny Brown
Ok, Danny Brown is not a DJ nor is he a producer, but his high-energy vocals and hyper-electronic beat selection have inspired many DJs – Boys Noize, Gesaffelstein, DJ Slink, and Brodinski to name a few – to remix his songs as they easily translate to festival crowd pleasers.
Danny Brown is another future legend in our books. He’s one of the few rappers to ever perform at The Gathering of the Juggalos and who could forget that one time he recieved fellacio on stage mid-performance and “didn’t miss one bar bruh bruh.”
Danny Brown attributes his electronic style to his Detroit upbringing and, interestingly enough, his father was actually a house music DJ.
Did someone say Chipotle? Papi Gordo will go down as a legend in the dance music scene (there’s your bold statement of the day) because he made it OK to play hip hop songs at a predominantly EDM music festival’s mainstage. No one would have ever dared to play YG’s “My N*gga,” or Juvenile’s “Slow Motion,” or A$AP Ferg’s “Work” at mainstage before Carnage, NO ONE! And for that, he deserves major props.
The bedroom producer turned superstar DJ started off as a hip hop producer making trap bangers for artists like Kyle, A$AP Ant and Bodega BAMZ. He splashed onto the EDM scene with his “festival trap” rendition of Hardwell’s “Spaceman” and changed the game. The record was so infectious that soon, festivals started offering stages solely dedicated to that genre.
Carnage is currently working on his debut album, which he has promised will be the most obnoxious and random album ever made. So far, singles have included features from rap contemporaries the Migos, ILoveMakonnen, and A$AP Ferg. Not to mention a surprising tech-house single co-produced by Erick Morillo and Harry Romero called “Let The Freak Out.”
6. A Trak
Alain Macklovitch has his hands in every cookie jar out there. One minute he’s in the studio making nu-disco funk with Duck Sauce collaborator Armand Van Helden, the next he’s in the lab with Metro Boomin, Lex Luger and Young Thug making songs about Jack Tripper. When A Trak isn’t touring the world on his #RealDJing campaign, he’s running the trend-setting record label Fool’s Gold with Nick Catchdubs.
Their Fool’s Gold Day Off festival assembles both emerging artists and legends in the dance music and hip hop scene. Past lineups have included the likes of Danny Brown, A$AP Rocky, French Montana, Juicy J, Anna Lunoe, Trippy Turtle, Flosstradamus, Just Blaze, DJ Mustard, The L.O.X., Duck Sauce, and tons of surprise guests. Last year, A Trak treated New York to surprise appearances from Cam’ron, Remy Martin and ILoveMakonnen.
There’s something to be admired about a festival that can bring people from all different backgrounds together and offer a line up that caters to both the Hip Hop crowd (old school and new) and the House music lovers. Ohh, and be on the look out for A Trak’s forthcoming project with Cam’ron, the Federal Reserve EP.
Gary Richards is a promoter/DJ/producer from Southern California, and you can tell by listening to his music. Destructo’s latest project, the West Coast EP, features YG, Ty Dolla $ign, Kurupt, Too $hort, Warren G, and Problem. The project does a great job of paying homage to some of the west coast greats while embracing its newer artists – and I can’t forget to mention some samples from the Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg classic “The Next Episode.”
The EP is listed as G-House for it’s genre, the kind of music that will make you want to shuffle with a 40 oz of brew at hand. Destructo also runs HARD events, featuring some of the most diverse lineups you will ever find. This year’s HARD Music Festival in Southern California is shaping up to be the biggest one yet with a lineup that includes The Chemical Brothers, the Weeknd, Schoolboy Q, Boys Noize, Hudson Mohawke, Rae Sremmurd, Dillon Francis, Jack U, Young Thug and Fetty Wap just to name a few.
When it comes to blending techno and rap music together, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone as good as Louis Brodinski. While he is mostly known for techno, Brodinski has seized any and every opportunity to throw hip hop into his sets. During his recent 6 hour set at Brooklyn nightclub Output, he managed to throw in Migos, A$AP Rocky, Young Thug and other rap songs without missing a beat.
For his debut album, Brava, the Parisian DJ/Producer took everything he loves from southern rap and French electro to create a sound all his own. With features from Young Thug, ILoveMakonnen, Peewee Longway, Bloody Jay, Slim Thug, Louisahhh!!! and a few others, Brava flawlessly executes Brodinski’s vision for what club music should sound like: fun, sexy and filled with lyrics that encourage complete unadulterated indulgence.
Araabmuzik isn’t the only hip hop producer embracing EDM. Here’s a gem that samples an old Jay Z classic.
Shoutout the king of crunk for delivering this unforgettable synth on an Usher classic.
Masters at mixing electro with trap, Flosstradamus is definitely a DJ duo that will turn rap enthusiasts into fans of EDM.