DJ TiGa The Sound: Vol. 1

[Lit City Trax; 2016]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: Jersey club, house, hip-hop, footwork
Others: DJ Sliink, J Cush, Brick Bandits

In a similar way to how footwork and juke traits eventually transcended the zip code confines in which they were formed, Jersey club emerged through the broadening of online distribution channels and a non-linear merger of styles across different cities. As a creative outlet, it was responsible for instigating rivalries on the streets of Newark as much as it provided respite — at least for some — from unemployment, political frustration, and a lack of opportunity. For this reason, the music often exposes a panoply of diverging moods and expressions in its current form. It can be as furious and foul-mouthed as it can be focused and contemplative, while at the same time consistently adhering to the central, driving principles that define it: a visceral stampede of rhythm and a call for kinetic responses from the audience.

DJ TiGa’s first installment from his mixtape series comes roughly 10 years after the arrival of Jersey club on the world stage. As Mike Steyels discussed in his 2015 Resident Advisor feature on the subject, the internet gave producers such as Brick Bandits (of which TiGa was also a member) a gateway to new audiences and support channels, which led to an even more open dialogue as to how the style would evolve. On The Sound Vol 1, DJ TiGa has noted DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn as key influences, while allowing their respective beat patterns to bleed into the mix — see “sTICK’em” or “Asking All Them Questions,” in particular. But that doesn’t mean this mixtape is solely dependent on the groundwork of others; TiGa brings his own flavor at almost every turn, leading to two defining features of the mix: the invitation of listeners to be a part of a localized stylistic formula and contrasting observations from both the club and the street.

In an interview with THUMP, TiGa talked about the social abstractions associated with club and street life and how they interact in his music. From the outside, the inclusion of shotgun-pumping and gunfire alongside gentle vocal sections courtesy of R&B heroine Tink, among others, exemplifies an immediate clash. But this is softened by the inclusion of shimmering melodies against rapid-fire kick drum that feels more like cohesion than conflict. The physical action that this music provokes only complements such beautifully executed juxtapositions — it’s music for the club as temple. The ritualistic moves that make their way into the encyclopedia of physical responses call for an instant fascination as to how this music works its audience and how the audience construct their counterattack. On The Sound, that switches from an image of sweat-glistening bodies on a dance floor to a precise and carefully assumed response that beckons for understanding and precision — “club music isn’t beautiful” DJ TiGa told Alexander Iadarola. “It’s supposed to make you sweat, you’re supposed to jump, you’re supposed to be able to scream to the top of your lungs.”

That first “defining aspect” I mentioned, that invitation to partake, is what really demonstrates TiGa’s tact in bringing Jersey club to a broader audience while retaining its localized themes. He achieves this through the curation of his mix — by conforming the likes of Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Tink to his sound — and through his handling of those tracks, especially in the way that samples are chopped. It’s as though each sampled section is surgically dissected before being ground to a digital pulp and spat back out again. The human aspects of “M.A.A.D City” are stripped away, and the sound of the charge of Schoolboy Q’s holler is transformed into a mechanical burst. When working with tracks that personify intense emotional commentary (“In The Streets”) or a feeling of tenderness (“Your Love (One in a Million”), that could make for a compromising tactic, but in TiGa’s case, the roughness in his treatment is paramount to the party.

The treatment of samples and the adaptation of a localized club scene don’t always lead to a winning formula, and on The Sound, it’s ultimately the composition and the pace of these tracks that make it such a belting listen. As an opening statement, DJ TiGa has taken the foundations of a scene and capitalized on being able to manage them in a commercial context. The Sound might embody local formulas that have already embraced the influence of an entire state, but this young DJ has done a cracking job at further introducing them to the rest of the world.

Links: DJ TiGa - Lit City Trax


Some releases are so incredible we just can’t help but exclaim EUREKA! While many of our picks here defy categorization and explore the constructed boundaries between ‘music’ and ‘noise,’ others complement, continue, or rupture traditions that provide new forms and ways of listening. Not all of our favorites will be listed here, but we think each EUREKA! album is worthy of careful consideration. This section is a work-in-progress, so expect its definition to be in perpetual flux.

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