Cognition's March 2000 Electronics Report and Chart
Whenever Detroit artist Terrence Parker comes to town, his appearance on local turntables schools both disc jockeys and dancers and gives all in the area an invigorating kick in the butt. Parker is the man behind the well-received Three Minute Blunts series of compilations (!K7) that highlighted the Detroit hip hop scene. He's also known throughout Europe, but somewhat underappreciated in North America, for his work in the house genre. An Electronics Report favorite known for injecting a needed dose of funk and soul in his recordings, we'll skip the recommended release rundown this time (check the top ten, though, they're all worthy of investigation) to spotlight this shining light from Motor City.
On the Detroit party circuit in 1981, Terrence Parker got the itch to see local DJs in action while out breakdancing. By 1982, he was DJing regularly in the area and soon started recording his own music. Flash forward to 1993, the year "The Question" (a track Parker recorded as Seven Grand Housing Authority) crossed into the British pop charts, and suddenly he was flooded with European booking requests. "My first trip to England," Parker remembers over the phone from his Michigan home as he packs for another weekend jaunt to Germany, "was my first time djing outside of Detroit." Now 31, he's DJing more than ever before.
Parker is booked solidly because he makes an effort to do things differently. And that's not easy with so many DJs in the game. Like a battle DJ in the heat of a showdown, Parker will play 30 tracks in 60 minutes and make it flow-other waxworkers who try the same often come up with a sloppy trainwreck if they do this with house tracks. The DJ is also known for tricks that educate while they entertain. For example, he's mixed Armand Van Helden's "U Don't Know Me" with Carrie Lucas' "Dance With You" (the 1983 track Van Helden sampled for the recent hit). It's moves like this Parker is most fond of, ones which show where today's music-from house to R & B and hip hop--comes from.
In addition, Parker is so adept at manipulating double copies of certain records, partiers often mistake his live re-works of songs as new versions which they then try to track down, much to the chagrin of record stores. And live, Parker has no interest in just playing the latest house tunes. He's happy to drop early Madonna, Rolling Stones, practically anything with a funk-drenched beat into a set. You won't hear him play the same record the same way twice.
"Are you down with the music or are you just frontin'?" is Parker's motto. In a music industry rife with those willing to do almost anything to get one over, Parker grabs much press for his candid views on drugs in the music scene. Yes, he admits, drug use has always been intertwined with music and likely always will be. It's just that things have escalated, he says, and he's concerned that those who abuse drugs are affecting the scene as well as themselves. Parker has played at parties where robberies, car jackings and physical and sexual assaults have occurred, and this worries him. "Whatever you do with your body is your own business," he says, "but you're risking more than just whatever the chemical itself might do; you've also got to take into consideration how people might take advantage of you."
Parker challenges people to check out his party appearances sober. "I play whatever I think fits into the vibe of what I'm feeling at that moment. If people are using drugs when I'm playing out, how can they be sharing my vibe? I'd rather dj for five sober people who are getting high on the music when I'm playing than 500 people high on drugs."
Terrence Parker's new album, TP2K, will be released this month on his Detroit-based Intangible Records.
Cognition's Electronics Top 15 for March 2000
1. Various-"Focus Sampler" EP (UK Focus test)