Remember school dances back in middle or high school? It was always so awkward and quiet in the beginning because no one was comfortable to dance yet. Most of the time you couldn’t do a simple two-step to the music that was playing. That was until the DJ would bring everyone to the floor with something like “The Cha-Cha Slide” or “The Cupid Shuffle.” Everyone and their mother would rush over to the dance floor and follow the steps that the song instructed them to do. Back home in NJ, we had our fair share of those songs. However, we also did things a bit differently.
Everyone in my school loved a subgenre of music known as Jersey club. Nothing had my friends and I rushing to the dance floor faster than the sound of DJ Lilman’s “Team Lilman Anthem.” When leaving NJ and going to college in Georgia, I had to bring Jersey club with me. What I didn’t realize was how many people were already vaguely familiar with the genre. Sad part is, they just knew it as TikTok sounds!
What is Jersey Club?
Originating from Newark, Jersey club is a form of electronic dance music that began in the early 2000s. It’s credited to DJ Tameil, alongside other members of the famous Brick Bandits Crew. They took inspiration from the Baltimore club scene, which fused hip-hop and house music together, creating a rhythmic heavy dance beat. Other producers who visited the Newark area began to experiment with this familiar sound and bring it back to their own counties in New Jersey.
Most modern Jersey club remixes use pop music and other popular hip hop or R&B tracks as samples. The classic Jersey club sound could be defined as aggressive yet bouncy because of its 140 BPM alongside its triplet percussive pattern. Vocal samples are chopped up and layered over the heavy bass to fully emphasize the dance beat behind the music. Three words I would use to describe the sound of Jersey club is rhythmic, intense, and sexy.
How Did Jersey Club Get Popular?
In the mid-2000s the Jersey club scene was fading in and out. More producers were leaving the music profession for work and pursuing an education. This led to the new generations of DJs to enter the scene. Jersey club was originally only known as Brick City club because of its origin in Newark. The name was later changed to Jersey club after there were more influences from out of town. This name change helped the genre to better fit the mass spread across the state. It then began to make traction on websites including Myspace.
As the internet grew, so did the use of social media platforms. As a result, streaming services such as SoundCloud became popular for aspiring DJs to release their music to the public. During the 2010s and the expansion of Vine, Jersey club picked up traction through dance trends. The rise of social media stars using club music from smaller creators allowed for artists like DJ Lilman, DJ Smallz, and DJ Telly Tellz to release trendy dance music.
The Use of TikTok sounds
As dance and sound trends grow on TikTok, more DJs have been able to share the sound of Jersey club with the world. Famous DJ Cookiee Kawaii is a well-known musician who had multiple tracks go viral on TikTok in 2020. Her songs such as “Vibe” and Violin” are both iconic dance hits that have gained her millions of views and followers online. I highly suggest checking her out!
Dancing videos are heavily associated with TikTok. Thousands of small artists take a liking to the platform because it’s an easy way for their music to reach millions of viewers. However, the only downside to using TikTok as a main source for exposure is how easy it is for artists to have their work discredited. This is prominent within the house music and club scene. Millions of viewers would watch a popular influencer dance to a Jersey club track but have no clue who made the music.
What’s a music subgenre that’s close to home that you love? Personally, I don’t think I will ever outgrow the Jersey club scene. Especially because they have a remix to almost everything! I’m not one to gatekeep – Jersey club is a music experience that everyone should get into.