House music grew out of the post-disco dance club culture of the early '80s. After disco became popular, certain urban DJs -- particularly those in gay communities -- altered the music to make it less pop-oriented. The beat became more mechanical and the bass grooves became deeper, while elements of electronic synth pop, Latin soul, dub reggae, rap, and jazz were grafted over the music's insistent, unvarying four-four beat. Frequently, the music was purely instrumental and when there were vocalists, they were faceless female divas that often sang wordless melodies. By the late '80s, house had broken out of underground clubs in cities like Chicago, New York, and London, and had begun making inroads on the pop charts, particularly in England and Europe but later in America under the guise of artists like C+C Music Factory and Madonna. At the same time, house was breaking into the pop charts; it fragmented into a number of subgenres, including hip-house, ambient house, and most significantly, acid house (a subgenre of house with the instantly recognizable squelch of Roland's TB-303 bass-line generator). During the '90s, house ceased to be cutting-edge music, yet it remained popular in clubs throughout Europe and America. At the end of the decade, a new wave of progressive house artists including Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx, and House of 909 brought the music back to critical quarters with praised full-length works.
The style of dance that exploded American house music around the world, Acid House first appeared in the mid-'80s in the work of Chicago producers like DJ Pierre, ADONIS, Farley Jackmaster Funk, and Phuture (the latter of whom coined the term in their classic single, "Acid Trax"). Mixing elements of the house music that was already up and running in Chicago (as well as New York) with the squelchy sounds and deep bassline of the Roland TB-303 synthesizer, acid house was strictly a Chicago phenomenon until stacks of singles began to cross the Atlantic, arriving in the hands of eager young Brits. The sound jelled in small warehouse parties held in London in 1986-87, and then went overground during 1988's infamous Summer of Love, when thousands of clubgoers traveled to the hinterlands for the massive events later known as raves. Acid house hit the British pop charts quite quickly, with M/A/R/R/S, S'Express, and Technotronic landing huge hits before the dawn of the '90s. By that time, the acid house phenomenon had largely passed in England and was replaced by rave music. New-school U.S. producers from Cajmere to Armand Van Helden to Felix Da Housecat kept the sound alive and well during the '90s.
Top House Music Artists