Mixtape is asking DJs and producers coming to town, in their opinions, what are the five best songs ever and forever and ever. Or just five songs that are somewhat interesting for some reason. Or six songs. We're easy…
The mix maker: New York born, London raised DJ, producer, and Lit City Trax label owner J-Cush dropped one of 2014's freshest sets at The Shelter last May, and he's back this Saturday night. Last time, he blended grime, footwork, ghetto house, new rap from Atlanta and Chicago, kuduro, and other styles in a way that just made sense. Before his set, someone was wandering around the pitch dark club pointing a flashlight. Paranoid vibes. After realizing this guy was just taking a video on his phone, I said, "hey this isn't really the kind of place for bright flash". The guy responded politely, "I'm here DJing tonight. I'm just trying to make some memories. Where are you from?" Oh shit. It was J-Cush.
Super nice guy, and his set killed. A real DJ's DJ. Perfect blends; lots of rewinds. Later in the year, J-Cush and friends Fatima Al Qadiri and Nguzunguzu came together to release their eclectic and divisive debut album as Future Brown on Warp Records, where they made beats for rappers and vocalists they like. Tink, the Chicago rapper who appeared on the standout track "Wanna Party", has gone on to work with Timbaland, who proclaimed her the next Aaliyah.
Between DJing around the globe and working with Future Brown, J-Cush runs the label Lit City Trax, which releases cutting edge club music by artists like Drippin (who is also playing The Shelter this Saturday), DJ Marfox, DJ Spinn, Visionist, and the late DJ Rashad, amongst others. Naturally, a label focused on club trax runs a club night. Enter the Lit City Rave, which goes down in cities around the globe, and lands in Shanghai this Saturday at The Shelter, with the young Lit City Trax artist Drippin, from Norway.
Ahead of that, we present J-Cush's massive fifteen track mixtape.
Part I: Top Five Tracks That Define The Vibe At Lit City Raves
5. Diesle DPower ft D Double E - "Can't Come Back"
"One of the hardest grime tracks this year - been battering this one. It goes down in any rave - real international beat produced by Rude Kid, the don."
4. DJ Deeon - "X-TA-C"
"DJ Deeon is one of my all time heroes! He makes the rawest and heaviest Ghetto House - it bangs. As he said it on a track once, "If this don't make your foot work, your foot must be dead!" I'm really honored and humbled to be releasing the original mix of X-TA-C amongst some other Deeon VIPs this year."
3. Youngstar - "Formula 3"
"We're talking about re-releasing this 8-bar classic on a Youngstar EP for Lit City Trax. Before Grime had a steady namesake, Youngstar was crafting many of the scene's earliest staple tunes. Grime is a big part of the rave and this a refix of one of his classic ones. It's still fresh to this day."
2. DJ Marfox - "Lucky Punch"
"Absolute banger. Anything goes at the Lit City Raves. The music has to be forward thinking. Next to nothing is more visionary then DJ Marfox's productions. This is one of may favorite tools to play with in the club. The "Lucky Punch" EP that this is taken from is out on Lit City Trax."
1. Future Brown ft Tink - "Wanna Party"
"On this Future Brown tune, Tink asks "Don't you wanna party?" Lit City Rave has always been about letting lose and having fun with it. It's been an anthem at the party since I started playing it."
Part II: In Memory Of The Man, Your Top Five DJ Rashad Tracks
1. DJ Rashad - "Let It Go"
"For a while, I was trying to push Rashad to go down a really emotive route. His music was so full of feeling already but I wanted him to push the music in a sadder direction at times. He was already well on the way to doing this, but the woman's reverb dripping vocal calls out over tough Amen chops was such a crazy hard combination and deeply pioneering. When he sent me this, I told him he was going to go down in the history books."
2. DJ Rashad - "Rollin" [Hyperdub]
"Nobody flipped the track like Rashad would. Just listen to Jagged Edge's "Walked Outta Heaven" and then listen how Rashad crafted an entirely new song. So moving, first time I heard it, it must've stayed on repeat for a month straight. He turned the game on its head as usual. Hearing this since his passing, along with "Let It Go" has been crazy. Both really speak to me - it's crazy."
3. DJ Rashad - "Feelin" [Lit City Trax, off of Welcome to the Chi]
"This was one of Rashad's many staples at Lit City Rave and on tour. He flipped this from a DJ Manny track that was left on DJ Spinn's MPC. He ended up making another version with DJ Spinn and Taso that came out on Hyperdub after already having flipped the same "Feelin" sample on a second "Welcome to the Chi" track on "Kush Ain't Loud"."
4. DJ Rashad - "I Ain't Juked All Week" [Juke Trax]
"This is a real Juke classic that goes off every time. It's real bass heavy and stripped back - it's super effective. I've watched this track send up clubs across many continents. This is an older cut but hugely important nonetheless. Shout out Brian Godfather for putting this one out."
5. DJ Rashad - "Fly Spray" [Lit City Trax]
"The Grammy's wanted to license this one but unfortunately, we had to turn them down. The whole entire "Welcome to the Chi" record was for the rest of the world as much as it was for the footworkers at home. He was able to create this balance effortlessly. This is quintessential Rashad: hard but different from the rest accompanied by a lot of energy that grows continually."
Part III: Top-Five Current Rap Tracks
Originally I asked J-Cush for his top five non-club tracks. Basically, shit you wouldn't play at a dance party. To that, he responded:
"After doing a lot of thinking about it, everything I listen to, I'll make it work in the club. I figured it would be more interesting if I wrote my current favorite rap tracks."
1. Young Thug ft Duke - "Dome"
"Eerie, haunting and pushing rap forward with one of the craziest flows in recent times! Essential!"
2. Yelo Boi & Lil Dave - "No More"
"Young Chop went crazy as usual on this beat. YB and Lil Dave went nuts too! Shout out to Chicago man! Future Brown have a track with 8TMG that features Yelo Boi."
3. Future - "Monster"
"This doesn't need any comment really - Future's been on heavy rotation for me day and night. Dude is the Future for sure!"
4. King Rell - "I Can't Trust A Soul"
"Chop went in again on this one. He came to the studio one night when Future Brown worked with his squad 8TMG. He was super down to earth and was vibing to the beats. Meant a lot to me. FB have a track with King Rell, Yelo Boi and Johnny May Cash - shout out those guys!"
5. Rich the Kid - "Ghost"
"Atlanta has been popping off - whether 2Chainz, Future, Thugger, Longway, Migos, they've been revolutionizing the game quite a bit. Love this Zaytoven produced beat as it is inexplicably Grimey - the square synth sounds like something I grew up hearing in London."
J-Cush and Drippin bring the Lit City Rave to The Shelter this Saturday, May 9, from 10pm–late. Say what up to J-Cush, he's an approachable dude.