Top 10 Genre Breakers

In last month’s issue, I discussed a bunch of free music tracks. This month I’ve gone for 10 Records that “Broke a Genre.” Now what do I mean by that? Well, my way of defining this term is a track that has created a new genre, or brought an underground genre to the masses. There’s everything from Funk and Soul to Dubstep and House in this list, be prepared to be taken through the history books for this one.

DUBSTEP: Skream – Midnight Request Line

Now by ‘dubstep’ I don’t mean that stuff you hear in the charts every now and again, (Skrillex I’m looking at you), but that deep deep bass that makes your chest quake. One of the founders of said genre was Oliver Jones, otherwise known as Skream. Along with his close pal Benga, he started creating this amazing bass genre. Manufactured in the basement of his Croydon apartment, this classic released in 2005 is widely regarded as one of the first ever dubstep tracks, taking the genre across to a more melodic style. One of the first ever to feature a key change in the chorus, the hard hitting drums and snares sparked an uprise in what is now being called ‘dubstep.’ While what was to come later on wasn’t great, the music from these early days is just undeniably superb.

HOUSE: Frankie Knuckles – Whistle Song

This list can not be complete without mentioning the Godfather of House Music, Frankie Knuckles. Frankie is the man who invented the whole genre. The term house music comes from his residency in a Chicago club called The Warehouse, where he would attract crowds upon crowds of people by playing a mix of disco and soul that would later be known as ‘house,’ an abbreviation of the clubs name. This record from 1991 was one of his biggest hits, and one of the first ever ‘house’ records to hit the mainstream crowd. Aptly named after the fact that it’ll have you whistling the tune for days, this track is an immortal classic.

ROCK AND ROLL: Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats – Rocket 88

Shock! I don’t just like electronic music, I know I impressed myself when I thought of this record. As such an influential genre in Britain throughout the 60s and 70s, it was hard to pinpoint where exactly rock and roll came from. You’ll hear many different stories, but many see Rocket 88, originally accredited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats as the beginnings of rock and roll. This record was first recorded in March of 1951, although the exact date is disputed, believed to be either the 3rd or 5th in Memphis, Tennessee. Being quite a bluesy record, it did reach #1 on the Billboard R&B Chart. This record was the first of its kind to feature a rougher playing style, and a fuzzy electric guitar. The birth of this came by  pure accident though, as it’s said that the amp used for recording the guitar broke on the way to the recording studio, and that the distorted sound was just kept.

ELECTRO SWING: Jolie Coquine – Caravan Palace

Now electro swing is a genre that has only just come into my radar. It’s an amazing mix of old 20s and 30s jazz tracks and electronic beats and synths. Where exactly this genre has sprung from is hard to determine, but I’d put it down to a few albums released in 2009/10 suitably named ‘Electro Swing Volume 1 and 2,” out on the French label Wagram Music. This was the first real time that this collection of similar sounding songs had been put together under one single title. I decided to choose my favourite of the lot, Caravan Palace by Jolie Coquine. This particular record is full of attitude and great swing music; it’s a hit that would make the genre appeal to most.

HIP HOP: Newcleus – Destination Earth

Back before the likes of Biggie Smalls and NWA, hip hop was a much simpler genre. There was a time when there weren’t any vocals on the records, and one of the leading figures was Newcleus. You can still hear in the clap of the drums that Newcleus were one of the most influential early connoisseurs of this new found music. This record, taken from their debut album Jam On Revenge was one of the earliest examples of this. While it may not be the most obvious choice, the strange space-like vibe of the track makes for a very interesting listen.

HIP HOP/MCING: The Sequence (Angie Stone) Sugar Hill Gang – Funk You Up

As hip hop music developed, people began to perform spoken word on top of the beats. This then developed into the rapping we hear today. However, in the early days, it had a much more funky style to it, and some would argue that this above track is a funk track, but not a hip hop one, and I can see why. This classic is one of the very first to feature a female lead. Now,hip hop is much more about rappers speaking about their lives in the Bronx, but let’s not forget that hip hop is also a culture, and it was founded in the world of soul and funk. Soul singer James Brown is even considered one of the Godfathers of hip hop, and anyone that doesn’t just want to get down to the Sequence are just lying to themselves.

FUNK: James Brown – Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag

Speaking of James Brown, the man had to be featured somewhere on this list. Not only did he help to create hip hop, he was one of the earliest purveyors of funk music. His hit Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag won Brown his first Grammy Award for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording. The horn heavy feel with the electric guitar riff was the start of the funk movement to follow. Brown had his own signature groove that featured heavy guitars and a repetitive bassy swing. This video is taken from his performance on TV show Shindig! and as you can hear, everyone went crazy for the man.

SOUL: Solomon Burke – Cry To Me

We’re heading from Funk to Soul now, two genre’s that go hand in hand. Where this genre broke through was largely down to artists like Solomon Burke. Taking a lot of influences from Gospel, soul music was like a version of folk preaching. This track from 1962 is one of the first songs to unify country, gospel and R&B in one package, and as a result we got soul music. This song is so influential in fact that it was covered many times, most famously by the Rolling Stones in 1965.

GARAGE: Lovestation – Teardrops

Onto one of my favourite genre’s now, which is Garage. Originating in the UK in the early 1990s, the genre is full of attitude and an infectious percussive rhythm, more commonly known as 2-step. It developed as a side line off jungle music, which eventually developed into the 2-step style in the late 90s. This cover by Lovestation reached #14 in the chart in 1998, and was one of a collection that broke garage music to the masses.  Whether this was a good thing or not is debatable though, as with its growing popularity came mass violence, which lead to the massive decline, and eventual mainstream death of the genre.

INDIE ROCK: The Strokes – Hard To Explain

The final genre on the list is one full of those jingly jangley guitars, and strange vocal performances; it’s indie rock! A massive love of mine, this genre just makes me feel good and has actually spurted me onto a Wombats listening splurge (anyone else remember them?) Now there’s a lot of rubbish indie out there, but there’s also a lot of good stuff, The Strokes being one of the good lot. They’re one of the bands largely responsible for breaking indie rock to the mainstream, alongside The White Stripes, The Hives, and the lesser known The Vines. This particular record is one of their hit singles from their debut album Is This It. This is a heavier record than other stuff, but an almighty tune all the same.

There were loads more records I’m sure I could have fit on the list but then we’d be here all week. If you think I made any glaring mistakes and there is a track you think must be on the list, comment below!

Featured image credited to Sami Pyylampi via Flickr Creative Commons

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