House Music as a Genre is Simply Inescapable Right Now
We’ve already touched on this in our genres of 2022 roundup, but it bears digging further into: house music is inescapable right now.
Of course, a huge amount of attention is on Beyoncé and Drake bringing the four-to-the-floor rhythms into their newest releases. That in turn has drawn public and media attention to the Black roots of house – which is all to the good.
But the routes through which the sound has become viable for such megastars to adopt are complex and tangled, and really, really worth examining.
It is vital to remember that though the dance music mainstream has been dominated by an overwhelmingly white industry and DJ hierarchy – centred on Europe in the 1990s and 2000s, and latterly, the US-centric EDM explosion, there has been an unbroken continuum of Black fans, DJs and promoters keeping their vision of house music alive ever since its emergence in Chicago, New York and Detroit in the mid-80s – either specifically as house, or in forms known as “club” or “ballroom” which maintain enough of house’s DNA to maintain its currency.
This, crucially, includes in South Africa, the most house-loving nation on earth, where megastars have gradually risen up, and influenced the entire African diaspora with house-based sounds like kwaito and latterly amapiano.
Likewise there have been organisations, parties, crowds and scenes that have kept alive the vital LGBTQ+ spirit of the original parties – and other, interweaving strands have maintained the vital Latin musical and cultural elements that formed another vital pillar for the sound and culture.
And it IS a culture: multi-faceted, with many variants, but nonetheless a strong culture with awareness of its roots.
In Miami, in London, in Pretoria, in Paris, in Oakland, in Atlanta, in Melbourne, house has hybridised, mutated and created new strains, but also maintained that continuity with its past.
This is not an essay to unpick all that, though. We’ll leave that for another time – for now, we’ll let the music do the talking.
The playlist we’ve put together here, all of music from the 2020s, ties up all these connections and more, and we urge you to give it more than just a casual background listen.
House is so familiar to us all, thanks to its ubiquity in bars and clubs the world over, that it can easily drift past as an undifferentiated pulse.
But listen to these tracks, and you’ll see how much richness and cultural hybridity there still is.
There’s rap and beat poetry, there’s sassy diva hollering and sultry soul murmurs. There’s high tech glitches and organic percussion. There’s minimalism and disco lavishness.
There are huge US urban names like Usher and Busta Rhymes – from long before Drake and Beyoncé joined the party – and plenty of the stars of South Africa’s scene.
There are popstars like Lizzo and Dua Lipa, there are underground legends like Masters At Work, Ron Trent and Todd Edwards – and crucially, zero degrees of separation between these.
House is many, many things in the 2020s, but, as you will hopefully hear, it still fits under one umbrella. For all the dozens of genre divisions over the decades, at its best it is still H-O-U-S-E, house.
Press play and dive into some incredible house music now.
Cover Credit: Pressmaster/Pexels
Writer | Joe Muggs
Joe Muggs is a writer, DJ and curator of many years standing, covering both mainstream and underground. His book 'Bass, Mids, Tops', covering decades of UK bass music, is out now via Strange Attractor / MIT Press, and you can subscribe to his newsletter at tinyletter.com/joemuggs.