By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
DJ Assault makes what he calls "accelerated funk" from his home base of Detroit. Others call the music he makes any number of things: "Ghetto-tech" -- as in "ghetto techno" -- is the most common descriptive; his style is also sometimes called simply "booty." Others call it "techno-bass." PC-ers will no doubt call it offensive, sexist garbage, because it's totally raunchy and shocking. Seems everyone involved in making the music has his own tag for it, though, much to Assault's dismay, the tag that has stuck is ghetto-tech.
"I don't know where the name came from," says Assault (born Craig Adams). "People kind of just made it up. So the new way that I'm marketing the thing that I do is "accelerated funk.' Maybe some people -- maybe there are ghetto-tech artists. Fine, if that's what they do.
"I made up the whole style, period," he continues. "And then for somebody to name it, it wasn't for them to name. I give it a lot of thought -- what I do takes a lot of time, and when I was ready to come up with someone, it came to me. It's, like, "Ghetto-tech? What does that mean?' It's not educating people to how I see it. By me going all around the world and everywhere, when you say what you do, it has to be descriptive, and that's where "accelerated funk' came from."
DJ Assault, along with the Detroit Grand Pu Bahs, Ming & FS and others, is appearing somewhere in the area this weekend as part of the Superstars of Love's Lovetronic party.
Assault has been making records since the early '90s, and over the past few years these records have gradually come to be Detroit classics -- no small feat, considering the storied reputation of Detroit techno. Despite his claim that he "made up the whole style, period," he didn't, though he fits snugly on the continuum of boundary-busting techno. His tracks -- basic and engaging, solid and straightforward -- are designed for one purpose: dancing. His brand of fast-funk is blue to the core. Tracks titled "Drop Dem Panties," "Sex on the Beach," "Dick by the Pound" and "Ass-N-Titties" all rely on a relatively simple formula: Find a funky, 808-driven beat; toss in a synthetic melody, some fake handclaps and a solid, deep bass pattern; then get all nasty on top of it. And though there's a formula and Assault pretty much has stuck to it, the result is nearly always sticky and sweet -- and, sure, to some, offensive. "Dick by the Pound," for example, is self-explanatory: Assault is boasting about his large, er, well, pee-pee and how he's giving it away, well, by the pound to any woman willing. Generous alpha that he is, he's offering a piece of his body. Like a car salesmen, he describes in great detail his merchandise, and it's a genuine eyebrow-raiser.
Big deal -- some dude is bragging about what a strong lover he is. It's shocking and explicit, sure, but, really, these tracks are part of a timeline that can be traced back to early blues shockers such as Bo Carter's "Mashing That Thing" (and, actually, Carter's entire body of work) and Memphis Minnie's "If You See My Rooster (Please Run Him Home)"; the only difference is that DJ Assault has no need for double entendre. Still, anyone raised a good Christian (or feminist, or conservative) will have issues with the subject matter, though the essence of Assault's music is simple: A man is bragging, and he's being explicit about it.
Then, though, something interesting happens in the song. We hear the voice of a woman, a woman who is giving away her special place by the pound, and suddenly the prettier sex, moments earlier the subject of objectification and patronization, is speaking up, responding to Assault's boastful claims with some equally explicit and raunchy claims of her own: "I hope you won't scream, like you're having a wet dream. I hope your back is strong, we can go all night long." It totally changes the dynamic of the song, and once the tender-eared adjust to the shock of it all, Assault reminds you what a master beat scientist he is.
It's funny and subversive and curious party music, the kind of stuff that, played in clubs, is a dance-floor magnet from the get-go; before the words come in, both sexes file onto the dance floor and start dancing. As the lyrics kick in -- say, the lyrics to "Drop Dem Panties," which consist of only those three words, along with a Beastie Boys sample from Licensed to Ill -- you can watch the confusion on the dancers' faces: Laugh, or storm off the dance floor? Complain, or party? Usually it's no contest; the music is so simple and celebratory that it tethers you to the beat.