Adam Wray is flexing like a young Carlos Delgado.
Sometimes it feels as though there’s nothing left to be digitized. Bootlegs, dubplates, cassette-only releases – we have done an excellent job of reproducing and sharing that which was not intended to be reproduced and shared. Of course, there are dark spots on the map – though it’s rare to take to YouTube looking for a track and come up empty-handed, there are still whole bodies of work existing only on nicked-up white-labels, and others lost entirely.
Chicago house (and the bulk of ’80s and ’90s dance music) lives in one of these pockets. While its godheads – Frankie Knuckles, Phuture, Cajmere – are justly revered, many more great artists have slipped through the cracks. Stacy Kidd is one of them. His story is fairly typical of Chicago producers – inspired by the house music he was hearing on the radio, he began DJing in 1987. He hooked up with scene veteran Paul Johnson in 1990 and by ’94 the pair were releasing collaborative 12″s on Dance Mania, one of the genre’s most important labels. Kidd’s first solo release was on Dance Mania, as well, and he’s put out over a hundred tracks since, most recently on his own House 4 Life imprint.
I was unaware of Kidd until I heard a track of his called “Sugar Baby” on a recent mix Detroit’s Kyle Hall assembled for XLR8R. The tune is funky as hell, built around a rubbery bass line and a sample of D’Angelo’s vocals on “Brown Sugar.” Beyond being a serious joint, it piqued my curiosity because of its relatively scarcity – while scores of his tracks are available on YouTube, this one was nowhere to be found.
It was released on the flip side of a 12″ called “Guess I Never Told You.” This record came out in 1996 on on Circuit, a short-lived sub-imprint of Cajmere’s Cajual Records active between ’95 and ’97. The title track is solid but unremarkable, laying sliced-up diva vocals over jacking drums and a scratch loop. The “F-U Mix” is exactly as advertised – essentially the same track with an added “fuck you!” vocal sample. The b-side is much more exciting. Besides “Sugar Baby,” it also features “What,” a 130BPM heater that inches towards juke with its thudding kick and hypnotic, choppy vocal sample. If it was re-released under, say, Joy Orbison’s name, you’d hear it in every other Boiler Room set for months.
Dance Mania began reissuing records earlier this year – great news for fans of Chicago dance music. Of course, that label was only part of the puzzle, and there were many imprints like Circuit that may never benefit from the same attention. Shouts to the dedicated crate-diggers like Kyle Hall, whose dusty fingers are keeping these tunes circulating.