Pitch'd 

LOW-END RUMBLINGS

The fur is flying after a story on Detroit’s "ghetto-tech" phenomenon – "booty" to the rest of us – appeared in this month’s issue of swanky New York hipster lifestyle mag, Details. Members of Detroit’s electro-bass community are pitching a bitch at the piece’s one-sided approach to the ghetto-tech phenomenon, which, for those counting, now has been covered not only by MT, but also by UK mag the Face, New York’s Mixer, the New York Times, Spin, Rolling Stone and even – via a glowing riff on the genre – by Atari Teenage Riot’s Alec Empire in last month’s issue of Canada’s brilliantly irreverent Vice magazine. The Details piece, by New Yorker Ethan Brown, focused on the more camera-ready, black-strip-bar-sound track aspect of booty, while virtually ignoring the Detroit-DJ-bred genre’s ties to hip hop, trick DJing and Detroit’s production community. Said Dave "Disco D" Shayman, a friend of Brown’s who acted as his Detroit in-town liaison when he visited last January, "I made an attempt to put him in contact with everyone in the scene, and some people were hard to get ahold of and some people just plain blew him off."

But, says Shayman, "(Brown) wanted to focus on the strip clubs." To which he added, "I’ve never taken any records to a strip club. The thing I think the article missed was what makes ghetto-tech so unique, which is that it is the only dance music that incorporates turntablism and trick DJing."

More to the ego-bruising ire of Detroit producers, however, was the piece’s spotlight on Shayman himself, a newer booty artist, while relatively ignoring the big Detroit names such as DJ Assault and DJ Godfather. "They kind of made him up like Elvis" says an insider, while Ade Mainor of DJ Assault’s Electrofunk Records said only, "That Details thing was off; DJ Flexx (a strip-bar DJ featured prominently in the piece) don’t make any records."

Said Brian Gillespie, of electro label Throw, "We’re trying to get people to see that there’s more to Detroit than the "Godfathers of Techno" thing, and now we’ve got to come back and explain to people, for what it’s worth, that there’s a new generation, the ‘Godfathers of ghetto bass.’"

The growing pains involved in taking a local, underground story to the national magazine level are hardly exclusive to the ghetto-tech scene. When the Face did its booty story two years ago, the techno-philic mag did little to address the fact that booty is in many ways the antithesis of the Euro-friendly, locally irrelevant techno scene, and instead made booty look like a subcategory of techno.

The real issue in the Details piece is probably one of editorial style; the more sensationalistic parts of the ghetto-tech story – that booty records have been marketed in the past by first taking them to strip club DJs, that an 18 year-old white kid from Ann Arbor is the urban genre’s rising star – are what sold the story to the lifestyle (not dance music) magazine. And, bottom line, the future of ghetto-tech doesn’t live or die by its representation in swanky lifestyle mags. In fact, the booty scene is thriving on its own. DJ Godfather and DJ Assault have mended their inter-scene spat and have joined forces with their own Ghetto-Tech distribution company, while both Assault and Godfather have been contacted for remix work by Mo’Wax records owner James Lavelle. Godfather has upped the ante by doing remixes for Miami’s Luther Campbell protege, DJ Las, while fielding an offer from HardCorps Recordings to contribute a booty track to the upcoming Deep Porn compilation of collaborations between porn starlets and beat-happy (no pun intended) artists.

The fact remains that booty is still the only dance music made in, played in and danced to in Detroit, in inner-city clubs and on weekend mix shows by Gary Chandler and the like. Says Shayman, "Everybody has a role in the scene. Godfather and Assault put out the most records; I’m the one pushing this music out of state playing at raves, but the article really didn’t reflect that. Strip club DJs are not gonna further this music anymore."

He adds, "The article doesn’t lie, it just talks about me too much."

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