Go back 10-15 years and UK Urban club nights had a different face. To even call it “UK Urban club nights” feels somewhat wrong. It was very much a fragmented scene. There would be isolated bashment raves, garage raves (like the legendary Sun City below) , jungle raves and so on. However, fast forward to 2016 and UK Urban clubbing has a new image.
No matter the location or event, all club goer’s share a similarity – they are likely to hear the same songs played on their nights out.
Let’s be honest – on a typical urban rave in 2016 you’re likely to hear Fetty Wap, Stormzy, Skepta, Rihanna, Beyonce and at least a minimum of 3 Drake songs, but the promoters will portray the event as an all-rounded night covering all genres. So why is that?
Most DJ’s play for the masses, and the majority of ravers are not devoted music lovers – so it’s no surprise many are turning their sets into a generic Spotify playlist. Gone are the days when DJ’s broke new artists in their DJ Sets; the ravers want to hear the most popular songs from all genres – not just one specific genre.
Another example of genre’s being obsolete to the club culture is the blurred lines within DJ’s sets. It’s a thing of the past for a DJ to play one specific genre; nowadays, they’ll go from one sound to a completely different one, in order to excite the crowd and cover commercial hits.
From speaking to festival goers down to routine ravers, they usually take a liking to various artists, declaring themselves as fans of theirs rather than the genre they represent – just look at this years Wireless festival line-up,probably THE UK Urban festival.
This is seen as a worry as some of these artists may be guilty of making cross-genre records, leading to more grey areas.
Of course, there are still underground raves championing emerging sounds and talent; however, this is still a niche community!
Overall, I believe music genres are no longer of any relevance to UK Urban club culture as most record selections are generic, commercial hits that you would’ve heard on the radio or default music streaming playlists.
However – DJs have a duty to play what the people like. If a song is Number 1 in the charts or leading the way in streaming services, then they must surely incorporate it to their sets, right? Nonetheless, does this mean we have to hear One Dance at EVERY rave?
It leads to a further debate about who has the power within a club set, the DJ or the people. Right now, the power seems to be with the big commercial artists, with clubber and DJs dancing along to their tune.
Written by Chris Ogori