By Jacob Katel
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You'd be hard-pressed to name an up-tempo superstar DJ who has won a major DMC (Disco Mix Club) battle championship — or even entered one. The superclub circuit is filled with producers, storytellers, and understated mixers, but razzle-dazzle, scratch-and-juggle spinners they're not. While a few DMC winners (A-Trak, Craze) have made their way to the big-room scene, it's not in their genes.
There's really only one guy who can claim back-and-forth, hip-hop-style skills and a true-blue house-music bloodline: Bad Boy Bill. The Chicago DJ has remained somewhat of an anomaly in dance music. He's not a hip-hop b-boy, techno banger, or deep-house artisan; Bill has made his own way in the booth. His hard-house pogo can sound like a Six Flags television commercial, but his roots point to genuine Windy City soul.
And while being a nuts-and-bolts DJ of the highest order has given the spinner unusual credibility in the fly-by-night club scene, recently Bill took a different tack by unleashing his debut studio LP, The Album, just last summer. Those expecting the rubbery, jackrabbit beats Bill is known for will be disappointed. The Album is, well, a proper album.
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In fact, it has a polish and glow that's familiar to mainstream radio. The lead single, "Falling Anthem," featuring the torch-trance vocals of Alyssa Palmer, cracked the Top 10 on Billboard's Hot Club Play chart. The rest of the collection fits the feel-good Zeitgeist of its Nettwerk label (home of BT, Morgan Page, and Conjure One) and the toothache flavors of über-popular DJs Deadmau5 and Kaskade. Other times on the disc, Bill goes down-tempo too.
Nevertheless, at a time when Bill's relentless, hand-raising sound is bigger than ever among the Steve Aoki crowd, he is committed to keeping his ever-looping, nonstop approach rooted in the heart and soul of two-turntable culture. "People are always looking for something fresh and new, but this scene is not fresh and new. It just seems that way because it has a new cycle," Bill says. "You can't think about what's going to be popular and trying to catch a trend. I just do what I like to do."