You'd be hard-pressed to name an uptempo, superstar DJ who has won a major DMC (Disco Mix Club) battle championship--or even entered one. The super-club 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 this past summer. Those expecting the rubbery, jackrabbit beats Bill is known for will be disappointed. The Album is, well, a proper album.
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 downtempo, 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."
Bad Boy Bill. 11 p.m. Friday, June 4. Cameo, 1445 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $20 in advance from wantickets.com. Age 21 and up; 305-532-2667; cameomiami.com
-- Dennis Romero