FAST EDDIE with DJ JES , DMT and BUTROS BUTROS GALI at Studio 99 (99 Sudbury), Friday (August 6). $10. www.mindcontrol.ca. Rating: NNNNN
As the underground in the 90s drew inspiration from the 70s, the 00s have similarly been focused on mining the 80s for new-old ideas to rehabilitate.
So far we've seen electro, new wave, Italo-disco, industrial, no-wave, punk-funk and acid house getting a second chance in trendy circles, and it's looking like hiphouse might be next. Just over a month ago, Mind Control Gallery brought Chicago hiphouse pioneer Tyree Cooper to town, and - necrophilic nostalgia aside - the party was a brilliant, sweaty mess and shitloads of fun. This week they're bringing in Cooper's pioneering peer Fast Eddie for their party at Studio 99.
If you weren't listening to house in the late 80s, the term "hiphouse" might mean nothing to you. For those of us glued to the late-night mix shows, it was an important but largely forgotten tangent in dance music's early history. That history is still controversial among old-school Chicago heads, a fact that's perhaps reflected in Fast Eddie's reluctance to discuss the current Chi-town scene or the history of the form he's most closely associated with.
Some seem to view hiphouse as an ill-conceived crossover attempt, one that aimed to cash in on hiphop's growing mainstream popularity. Others associate it with the UK's adoption of acid house and hiphouse, which eventually grew into rave and effectively severed house music's roots in both black gay culture and underground disco. Controversy aside, hiphouse did manage to cross over into the mainstream, and many of the top-40 dance hits of the late 80s and early 90s basically ripped off Fast Eddie's and Tyree Cooper's formula.
Flash forward to today, and while hiphop dominates the pop charts, house is either struggling or returning to the underground (depending on who you ask). Big house DJs like Derrick Carter are mixing hiphop a cappellas over their sets, P Diddy's doing tracks with Deep Dish, and underground artists like Chicken Lips are making waves by shamelessly referencing early house's minimalist synth funk. What better conditions could there be for Fast Eddie to resurface?
"Music is funny, you know what I'm saying?" Eddie Smith laughs from his studio in Chicago. "Music was going through its changes, but there were some things I didn't want to change. I'm glad I was so stubborn, because now we're back at the same place in music. It was time to break the silence."
Break The Silence is the title of his new album, recorded with DJ Jes, that's been making the rounds as a test pressing. They take turns at the mike and laying down the beats, and at their appearance Friday they will perform new tracks live, and Fast Eddie will spin an extended DJ set of pre-90s house classics as well. For a taste of what to expect, www.deephousepage. com has three archived mixes of radio shows he did back in the day. They're pre-hiphouse but feature lots of hiphop-style scratching and juggling.
Fast Eddie insists the radio was actually a formative influence on his style, that he was largely inspired by the legendary Hot Mix 5 on WBMX.
"I was too young to go to the clubs. I was listening to the radio, the Hot Mix 5. I did the radio thing first, starting around 84, on WGCI, and I only started playing clubs around 88 or 89 - I was 21, and I was fresh."
Despite his lack of club experience at the time, they're pretty fucking hot, especially considering they were done live on mainstream radio by a teenager - something that's hard to imagine in these days of computer-generated playlists.