Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out
Get this document free



                                    Rod Lee — Vol. 5: The Official
                                    Rating: 7.9
                                    Tom Breihan, June 27, 2005

                                    In Baltimore City, Rod Lee is a hitmaker on the level of the Neptunes or Lil Jon—
                                    his productions have helped turn artists such as rapper Bossman and R&B
                                    singer Paula Campbell into local stars. But he’s better known as the king of
ROD LEE                             Baltimore club music, a cheap, hard, frantic, fiercely regional strain of black
                                    house music that exists only within Baltimore. Baltimore club’s closest sonic
Vol. 5: The Official                cousin is probably baile funk— both rely heavily on unlicensed samples and
                                    relentless, virtually amelodic beats. But baile funk is a distant descendent of the
DFM-U-071                           frisky, infectious party chants of Miami bass, whereas club comes from the insis-
                                    tent, twitchy minimalism of Detroit and Chicago house. As a result, Baltimore
                                    club has a bleak, paranoid edge that baile funk lacks, and the intensely sexual
                                    lyrics are in English, not Portuguese, so you can’t pretend they aren’t nasty.

                                    Club music has ruled dancefloors and radio in Baltimore for 15 years, but it
                                    remains virtually unheard outside the city— partly because club producers proud-
                                    ly ignore copyright laws and partly because the music is too damn weird and
                                    hard to be considered pop. But blogs like Government Names and tastemaking
                                    out-of-town DJs like Diplo and DJ/rupture have given the music a strong internet
                                    buzz, and now Lee’s label Club Kingz has a distribution deal with Morphius
                                    Records, which may well bring Lee’s mix CD Vol. 5: The Official to an indie
                                    record store near you.

                                    The Official is a turgid, overlong, and repetitive mix, with precious few hooks to
                                    make the ferocious, concussive breakbeats go down more easily. And yet it also
                                    makes a pretty good case that Baltimore club is one of the rawest, most exciting
                                    forms of dance music on the planet. A track like DJ Technics’ “The PJ Chant”
                                    starts with a skeletal stomp-clap drum machine and an anthemic horn riff
                                    chopped up to sound like a siren, brings in sampled female moans and skittery
                                    beatboxing before dropping everything out for a climactic two-note foghorn tuba
                                    riff, then builds everything back up into dense, pulsing swirl— all within two min-
                                    utes. Lee’s own “Watch My Ass” lays a shuffling, rattling drum break under Lady
                                    Margetta’s cold, unemotional X-rated vocal (“Watch my ass as I’m grindin’ on ya
                                    dick, daddy”), then multitracks and layers Margetta’s vocal until it becomes a part
                                    of the beat itself. KW-Griff’s “The Problem” speeds up the eerie horror-movie
                                    pianos from Lil Scrappy’s “No Problem” to cartoonish velocities, adding goofy
                                    whizzing sound effects and an uproarious sampled burp to the mix.

                                    It all adds up into a bruising, mind-warping monolith. But every once in a while,
                                    something painfully human jumps out of the stew. Lee’s “Luvin’ You” supports a
                                    crushingly sad vocal from the R&B group Status with an uncharacteristically
                                    twerky, infectious Green Velvet-ish old-school house track. Nigga Say What’s
Exclusively Distributed by          “Horn Theme” combines an obliteratingly huge horn riff with an epic, apocalyp-
Morphius Records, Inc.              tic choir to stunning effect. And on “Dance My Pain Away”, Lee’s unpolished,
PO Box 13474, Baltimore, MD 21203   atonal vocals tell a tale of financial stress (“Listen to my story/ Bill collectors on
                                    me/ Have to file bankruptcy”) before building to triumphant chorus: “I’m gonna
Press contact: Simeon Walunas
410.662.0112, fax 410.662.0116      dance my pain away.” It’s not only a great track; it’s an explanation of how a furi-                 ous, urgent, unforgiving mutation of house music captured a poor, dangerous                    city.
                                    FADER MAGAZINE
                                    Issue 29 APRIL 2005
                                    Eric Ducker
                                    “B’More Stand UP!”

ROD LEE                             Escape from New York late on a Friday and take the turnpike down I-95 South
                                    and Hot 97 will carry you all the way to the Delaware Water Gap. After that
Vol. 5: The Official                you’ll have to head up the dial to Philadelphia’s Power 99 FM where you’ll get
                                    the same songs you just heard from TI, Fat Joe and the Game, plus ads for
DFM-U-071                           clubs where it’s “18 to get busy, 21 to get dizzy.” Around the Maryland state line
                                    the static will return and you’ll have to endure it for about 15 minutes until you’re
                                    in range of Baltimore’s 92Q. By that point in the evening they’ll have switched
                                    over to a live broadcast from Hammerjack’s for 5 Dollar Friday, where K-Swift is
                                    on the decks and Porkchop is yelling on the mic for the ladies to throw their
                                    hands in the air if they’re not on their period. Past midnight K-Swift will switch
                                    over to the hyperblast of Baltimore club music, but before that you might catch
                                    a patch of 90’s dancehall or a hip-hop set where you’ll get those same songs
                                    from TI, Fat Joe and the Game. But snuck in between you might catch this unfa-
                                    miliar refrain: “This is the land and the home of the…Oh! This is the city where
                                    they rock them…Oh! If you’re reppin’ your city scream…Oh! Eastside…Oh!
                                    Westside…Oh!” You’ve now entered Charm city.

                                    Before I made that three hour, 190 mile drive this January I had never been to
                                    Baltimore. Everything I knew about the city I learned from John Waters and The
                                    Wire, which is to say, I didn’t know anything at all. But last summer a friend
                                    who’d moved there sent me a copy of “Oh”. He explained that it was by a
                                    Baltimore rapper named Bossman, produced by Rod Lee and was presently
                                    incinerating the city. While references to Hasim Rahman and Monument Ave
                                    identify “Oh” as a distinctly Baltimore product, what is even more telling is the
                                    beat. Guided by jangling drums, the deep rumble of synthesized horns herald
                                    the coming of an anthem—or maybe a movement—while Bossman’s lyrics of
                                    hometown pride give the Ravens and the high murder rate equal credit for shap-
                                    ing Baltimore’s identity. Though the BPMs have been virtually chopped in half,
                                    its processed guts echo elements of Baltimore club—the raw, distinctly region-
                                    al music that has been the soundtrack to the city’s dancefloor grind sessions
                                    for over a decade.

                                    Back in the late 80’s, Baltimore DJs played Chicago house music. But when
                                    these same DJs started making their own tracks they sandblasted any polish off
                                    the beats and turned them more aggressive. Then on top they laid raunchy
                                    chants or samples about bustin’ a nut or hitting it doggystyle. “It was called
                                    hardhead music,” explains DJ and producer Rod Lee. “The Chicago music was
Exclusively Distributed by
Morphius Records, Inc.              more pleasant. We just EQed it different. Their bass kick is like `doooom.
PO Box 13474, Baltimore, MD 21203   doooom,’ ours is like `DESSSH! DESSSH! DESSSSH!’” Eventually hardhead
                                    became known simply as Baltimore club. As the name suggests it is a parochial
Press contact: Simeon Walunas       sound with no aspirations or avenues to become anything other than what its
410.662.0112, fax 410.662.0116      tag implies.
For the past six years Rod Lee has dominated the club scene with his singles and mixes. Lee’s rep is so big and his product
is in such demand from other DJs that he can inflate prices to seemingly ridiculous levels. A CD-R of ten new tracks goes for
at least $250, and if a song becomes popular enough to get pressed on vinyl it will regularly retain for $9.99. “A lot of the
price jacking we do, we just do it for the money, to get a couple of dollars real fast,” Lee explains. “To do that anywhere else
they’ll just kick you in the ass basically.”

While club music is an easy hustle for Lee—and one he could keep doing—over the past few years he has started embracing
hip-hop as a broader, more lucrative moneymaker. He gutted his Club Kingz record store and is turning it into the home of his
hip-hop label Approach Records. Lee says he was initially pestered into doing his first rap track back in 2001 by a guy named
Manny who was trying to get a rapper named Tim Trees put on. To get Manny off his back, Lee eventually agreed and his col-
laboration with Trees became the song “Bank Roll”. With a simple clap track and a frightening bass drop, “Bankroll” became
a regional hit, as did its follow-up “Be A Friend”—a sparse R&B jam by Davon that featured a guest verse from Trees. In the
following years Lee produced other Baltimore favorites including “Shake It Shorty” from Nature’s Problem and “How Does It
Feel” by R&B singer Paula Campbell. But the phenomenon of Lee and Bossman’s “Oh” coincided with a shift happening at
92Q. The new program director of the city’s only urban station was more willing to play local talent, adding seven songs by
Baltimore artists to the rotation in 2004—an unusually large number of non-market tested cuts in this era of fiercely pro-
grammed playlists. “Can’t nobody in Baltimore say there ain’t a chance for them now,” say radio host and rapper Porkchop.
“We ain’t going to hit you with half an hour of Baltimore, but we try to support.”

Though some artists like C Miller and Huli Shallone get airplay with a more southern sound, the easiest route to get on the
radio is with a beat from Lee. “[Rod Lee] knows how to use that downbeat more than anybody,” says rapper Mullyman, who
had Lee produce his single “Got It”. “He’s the king of club music, so who else could apply that to hip-hop? To Baltimore? As
soon as the beat comes on in the club, it’s a sound we already identify with.” Though Lee’s tracks are classified as “club” hip-
hop, they are far from slick. As rapper Q, who broke on to 92Q’s rotation with the Lee-produced “No”, explains, “The main
thing in Baltimore is the bass. If you have a strong bass line, a 808 drum, that kick, it’s going to just give you that frown face.
That’s what a lot of people look for when they go in the club looking all pretty.”

It’s been said that Baltimore is the southernest city of the north and the northernest city of the south, and this geographical
non-specificity has contributed to its lack of identity in hip-hop. The only Baltimore Rapper to previously make any impact was
B-Rich with 2002’s semi-hit “Whoa Now”. The Jeffersons theme-sampling track produced by Dukeyman was huge enough in
Baltimore to get him signed to Atlantic, but his full-length 80 Dimes flopped. Though B-Rich continues to put out singles in
Baltimore, he mainly serves asan example of what can go wrong with moving to a major label. “If you come into it being a yes
man, you’re coming in fucking up,” says Lee of the B-Rich situation. “You got a major label basically telling you, `Don’t bop,
shake your ass.’ But you don’t shake your ass, you bop. So why would you come out there and shake your ass when you’re
at home you bop?”

More recently, Baltimore rapper Comp Signed to Def Jam. He added the third verse to Ghostface Killah’s “Run” (though he
was cut from the album version of the song) and even appears as a character of the Def Jam Vendetta video game. But after
two low profile 12-inches and corporate restructuring, he was cut from the label’s roster. In the past few years, more US cities
than just New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta have become viable centers for mainstream hip-hop talent, with St. Louis and
Houston emerging most recently. Baltimore hopes that they can be the next hotspot, and, with this club-influence, they have
something that clearly differentiates them for the first time. “When Rod Lee first made ‘Bank Roll’, I embraced it,” says DJ
Debonair Samir, another veteran DJ/producer who has been doing similar club-influenced tracks. “Some people in Baltimore
didn’t like it. Baltimore rappers considered it commercial. I was telling them that it’s original and it will make you stand out.”

It’s also a sound that the rest of the world may be more familiar with than they think. “Gridin” is a Bmore beat. The way it
sounds, the thickness of the beat, the way it’s tracked—that’s a Bmore track,” says Samir. “At the time [the Neptunes] were
very interested in Baltimore stuff. ‘Milkshake’ is supposed to be a Baltimore club beat. They just did their interpretation.” Still,
some of the rappers who stand to benefit, or have benefited, from the club sound, remain hesitant to fully embrace it. “At first
I really didn’t want to do a Rod Lee beat,” Bossman says. “I went to check it out and made a street anthem out of it. To me, to
be honest—and it’s not a knock—but it was too much of a local sound. It wasn’t like real hip-hop to me.” On ossman’s inde-
pendently released album Law And Order, only “Oh” and the Samir-produced “Last Dance Part II” bear the club imprint.

On the other hand, rapper Q understands the potentially greater benefits of being associated with the sound. He’s been work-
ing almost exclusively with club produces Lee, Smair and Dukeyman. “My goal is to incorporate myself with the right people
and just construct things to a broad audience,” says Q. “Don’t keep it so much street, or so much hood, or just make it for
people in my neighborhood.”
Taking a more outsider route is the promising Mullyman, who despite lacking a radio hit, has been retired as 92Q’s Cipher
freestyle champ three times. Mullyman is first in the region to get guest appearances from signed artists, with “Got It” featur-
ing Clipse and Fam-lay, and “From The Heart”, featuring Freeway. Though most of the Baltimore hip-hop community says they
are trying to support each other so they can all eventually make it, Mullyman may be the most realistic about the limited oppor-
tunities available and has dissed both Bossman and 92Q on a record to further isolate himself. “It’s stiff competition,” he says.
“You’ve got Comp that was signed to Def Jam, you’ve got Bossman who’s hot, and you’ve got myself, the three time 92Q
Cipher champion AKA the people’s champion. And all of us respectively saying, in our own way, ‘I am the one.’”

In 2002 Martin O’Malley, the mayor of Baltimore, initiated the Believe program. The quasi-spiritual movement started as a way
to combat the city’s rampant drug problem, but it has been extended to cover gun violence, STDs, litter and other symptoms
of urban blight. Though the program contains practical elements like toll-free support lines and extra trash cans, at the center
is the theory that if the residents start believing in Baltimore itself, the city will change. The one-word campaign has spread,
hanging as banners on government buildings and stitched into uniform sleeves at local diners. This optimism has extended to
the city’s hip-hop community as well. When asked when they think the major label money will come, many predict it will be a
matter a months, if not weeks.

Though hip-hop may be a genre supposedly built on realism, no one expects its practitioners to be particularly realistic. As
much as the players talk about the inevitability of Baltimore being the next city to blow up, most of the artists currently remain
several key steps away from that happening. It is Rod Lee, perhaps the person who stands to benefit the most from a Baltimore
breakthrough, who actually admits the possibility that nothing larger may come to fruition. “If this don’t work, I’m going to go
and get mea regular job and call it a day,” he says. “This is my last hustle.
                                    SEATTLE WEEKLY
                                    ROD LEE — Vol. 5: Rod Lee—The Official
                                    DJ LIL JAY — Operation: Playtime
                                    Scott Seward, July 13 - 19, 2005

                                    Beat lovers outside the Baltimore/D.C./Philly axis of evil have been given a gift.
                                    For the first time ever, Baltimore club tracks are readily available to any Tom,
ROD LEE                             Dieter, or Harumi blessed with a cool-ass record store beyond the mid-Atlantic
                                    region. The Morphius Urban imprint (Morphius Records is home to such OG
Vol. 5: The Official                rap crews as Da Homosexuals and Pere Ubu) and Club Kingz Records have
                                    released for worldwide distribution two cracking new mix CDs by Rod Lee, one
DFM-U-071                           of the progenitors and star makers of the style known as Baltimore club music,
                                    and by Rod’s 14-year-old protégé, DJ Lil Jay.

                                    The Baltimore club sound, a northern cousin to Miami bass that’s heavy on kick
                                    drums, ancient breakbeats, and mind-alteringly repetitive vocal samples, and
                                    cross- pollinated with bounce, crunk, R&B, and anything else that will move a
                                    crowd, has always been localism incarnate—local clubs, labels, shops—for two
                                    reasons: One, if you sample the Dixie Cups and old Motown 45s in the forest,
                                    will anyone sue you? And two, what, exactly, is wrong with hangin’ in Baltimore?
                                    On the Morphius mixes, most of the rampant sampling has been scrubbed,
                                    making a frequently minimal music even more bare-bones. Lil Jon is everywhere
                                    on both discs, though. Mickey Mouse will probably be enslaved in a Florida
                                    swamp for generations, but Jon’s exhortations have already passed into the
                                    public domain.

                                    No offense to Rod Lee, who co-engineered the Baltimore club sound with DJ
                                    Technics and a handful of others, and whose Vol. 5 (featuring 30 tracks, 20 of
                                    them his own) is fierce, funny, and crushing and should push the sonic devel-
                                    opment of the Baltimore style up a notch. (In this case, that means everything
                                    old is new again—love the squelchy 303 acid sounds on K.W. Griff’s “Your
                                    Hood.”) But it’s his teenage cohort Lil Jay—an infant when Frank Ski and the late
                                    Tony Boston (aka Ms. Tony) transformed deep house into their own raunchy and
                                    doo-doo-riffic hip-house B-More blend courtesy of cuts like “Whores in This
                                    House” and “Pull Ya Gunz Out”—who brings home the bacon with a near-per-
                                    fect mix. Rod can be single-minded in his pursuit of the ultimate body slam, so
                                    Jay’s mix does a better job of expressing the depth and breadth of the club
                                    sound at its best. Tracks like Samir’s “Club Africa” and DJ Manny’s “Down the
                                    Hill” (featuring Jay on vocals) are hypnotic, propulsive, addictive, and eerily
                                    beautiful in the least expected places. Jackhammer beats, Eamon homages,
                                    dusty breaks (man, Baltimore cats are in some kind of love with the drum break
                                    from Lyn Collins’ “Think [About It]”—it would bring a tear to Rob Base’s eye),
                                    block politics, and synth-horn stabs played in the key of dance your ass off.
                                    Hats off to Morphius for spreading the word that you don’t have to import your
Exclusively Distributed by          rumptastic noize from Brazil. It’s been right here all along.
Morphius Records, Inc.
PO Box 13474, Baltimore, MD 21203

Press contact: Simeon Walunas
410.662.0112, fax 410.662.0116
                                    WASHINGTON POST
                                    ROD LEE — Vol.5: The Official
                                    Todd Inue, July 2005

                                    Baltimore’s indigenous club music could be the next dance-floor madness to
                                    bubble up from the underground. Baltimore Club, or B-More — an up-tempo
                                    hybrid of hip-hop and house with kickdrums, chants, handclaps and bizarre
                                    synth effects set to accelerated tempos — has pushed blood pressure limits in
                                    the 410 area code over the past 15 years. With the release this year of Rod
ROD LEE                             Lee’s “Vol. 5: the Official,” the first B-More CD with national distribution, the
                                    genre now has a public face and the potential for a pop music takeover.
Vol. 5: The Official
                                    Like Washington’s go-go, Baltimore Club exists as a regional sound relatively
DFM-U-071                           unknown outside the mid-Atlantic. The music blends the repetitive boom of
                                    house or techno with hip-hop’s aggressive posturing and full-frontal frankness
                                    (one of the most popular B-More singles is DJ Booman’s “Watch Out for the
                                    Big Girl”). What B-More lacks in subtlety it overpowers with shouted hooks,
                                    uncleared samples and chest-rattling bass patterns that induce dance-floor
                                    euphoria. Baltimore Club allows hip-hop heads to get their rave on.

                                    With the rise of file-sharing and audio blogs, the sound is leaking outside the
                                    nightspots in a way that Brazilian “baile funk” and Puerto Rican reggaeton have
                                    enjoyed. B-More is receiving international attention thanks to tastemaker blogs
                                    such as Government Names and Catchdubs. Hollertronix DJ Lowbudget
                                    recently cut a promotional B-More single based on sound clips from the HBO
                                    series “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Spankrock just released a B-More record for
                                    Money Studies, the label division of popular dance-music site

                                    For Rod Lee, it’s good timing. Lee is the original don of Baltimore Club. From
                                    his Monument Street studio he has released coveted 12-inch singles and four
                                    mix CDs independently. A new agreement between Lee’s Club Kingz label and
                                    Baltimore’s Morphius distribution company ensures that Lee’s latest record will
                                    be available in major record stores or to anyone with an Internet connection
                                    and/or decent credit.

                                    Organized in a mix format, Lee’s songs do the nasty with one another, blowing
                                    up the standard grimy B-More sound to Imax proportions. He uses blasting
                                    caps as beats, cutting in sampled gunfire on “Safe.” “Ain’t none of y’all safe . . .
                                    from the bass!” he yells before shots ring out in time with a pounding kickdrum.
                                    Lil Jon’s sampled voice instigates tear-the-club-up fervor on “What They Gone
                                    Do” and “Break It Down.” A linguistics lesson by Bernie Mac is given the B-
                                    More treatment on “Bernie Mac Theme.”

                                    But with all the chest pounding and potty mouth, there is a vein of social com-
                                    mentary. Whether inspiring regional pride on “Your Hood” or promoting
Exclusively Distributed by          escapism on “Dance My Pain Away,” Lee showcases B-More’s major appeal: It
Morphius Records, Inc.              makes you forget about your problems and drop it like it’s hot.
PO Box 13474, Baltimore, MD 21203
                                    Lee gets assists from local Baltimore celebrities Blaq Star, Lady Margetta, K.W.
Press contact: Simeon Walunas       Grif, DJ Technics and 14-year-old protege DJ Lil’ Jay. With Lee’s album out and
410.662.0112, fax 410.662.0116                 buzz spreading via DSL lines, the bandwagon for B-More club music is reach-                    ing capacity. Madonna, the line starts back there.
                                    BALTIMORE SUN
                                    Rod Lee — Vol. 5: The Official
                                    Rob Hiaasen, August 2005

                                    “Open it up
                                    Open it up
                                    Open it up
ROD LEE                             You Wanna see me?
                                    On the Dance Floor?
Vol. 5: The Official                I don’t think so,
                                    You do?
DFM-U-071                           Let’s go…”

                                    No, Baltimore club music just doesn’t sing on paper. Better to go to
                                    Hammerjacks, Club Choices or the Paradox to hear Baltimore’s indigenous
                                    urban sound known as B-More. Or you could just listen to 92Q (WERQ-FM)
                                    and DJ “Club Queen” K-Swift and DJ Rod Lee, whose lyrics kicked off this story.

                                    Baltimore club isn’t new, of course. But after more than 15 years of provincial
                                    popularity, the B-More sound might be busting out of the inner city and the
                                    Middle Atlantic with a little help from its friends and producers.

                                    “B-More is a buzzword for what is hot right now,” says David Andler, the presi-
                                    dent and founder of Baltimore-based Morphius Records, which recently
                                    released two B-More records.

                                    A hybrid of rap, hip-hop, Chicago house, New York freestyle and Miami Latin
                                    bass, B-More is pure dance music, a pit bull of rhythm, anger and profanity-
                                    which is a nice word for all the words we can’t say in a newspaper. “Crazy,
                                    knucklehead music,” as Rod Lee calls it. A contrast to slower Washington Go-
                                    Go, B-More is driven by a fast drum continuously beating under a looped hook
                                    or sample.

                                    “It’s really the fastest thing you can hear on a hip-hop station now,” says Victor
                                    Starr, program director at WERQ. “Baltimore club keeps you on your feet for

                                    The singing is irrelevant; sentiment and repetition rule. The hooks are often sex-
                                    ual chants (old schoolers call B-More “booty music”), anthems and shout-outs
                                    to Baltimore neighborhoods east and west. The DJs might have to shout loud-
                                    er and faster: club mixmasters in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and
                                    San Francisco are incorporating B-More into their sets.

Exclusively Distributed by
                                    “2005 could be the year that Baltimore’s club music breaks from its under-
Morphius Records, Inc.              ground status,” heralded California’s Sacramento Bee newspaper this year.
PO Box 13474, Baltimore, MD 21203
                                    “I brought it up here,” says Aaron Lacrate, a 29-year-old DJ in New York. “B-
Press contact: Simeon Walunas       More has become very fashionable here on the artsy scene. Hip-hop has gone
410.662.0112, fax 410.662.0116
                                    corporate, but B-More is raw and can never be bastardized.”
A Highlandtown-native, Lacrate experienced the beginning of the B-More sound in 1988, when he heard Scooty B, one of the
first Baltimore DJs to produce the new urban sound. Lacrate says he was that “little white kid” listening to club music in pre-
dominantly black nightclubs. “I was fascinated by the music.” As a teenager, he raided record stores on Howard Street for
Baltimore club records. One famous store for B-More music, Music Liberated on Saratoga Street, closed after its owner Bernie
Rabinowitz, died in 2003.

The music lived on through DJs such as Lacrate, who traveled to London this month to debut his own club mix, B-More Gutter
Music,” off his Milkcrate label.

“It’s a first for London,” Lacrate says. No doubt.

K-Swift, who DJs at Hammerjacks and the Paradox, also takes the B-More sound to New York when she performs DJ sets
there. The style has become popular with the rave crowd, she says. “Oh my god, they’re loving it.”

B-More cuts have found there way onto HBO’s novelistic drama The Wire. And B-More has featured sound clips from anoth-
er HBO series, Larry David’s comedy, Curb Your Enthusiasm. A Philadelphia DJ named Spank Rock has released a B-More
record for a dance music site. It’s not bad exposure for music once found only in a handful of Baltimore record stores and dis-
tributors mainly as 12-inch, homemade vinyls on the mix tape trade circuit- a hustling cash business.

Having dropped some of its legally dicey sampling, a stripped-down Baltimore club sound has a mainstream distributor in
Morphius, a label that features Baltimore native Rod Lee- a Lake Clifton High School graduate who became the ordained
“Godfather of Baltimore Club.”

“I take reality and put it in a melody,” says Rod Lee. “My music is just about day to day living.”

His fifth Baltimore club record, Rod Lee Vol 5: The Official, was released in May. Lee’s Club Kingz studio on Monument Street
produced the 30-track CD, which features mixes from Baltimore Club notables DJ Technics, K.W. Grif and Lee’s protégé, 14-
year-old DJ Lil’ Jay, whose CD, Operation: Playtime, was produced by Lee’s Kingz Records and also released by Morphius
this year.

Both records have gone bi-coastal.

“Beat lovers outside the Baltimore/D.C./Philly axis of evil have been give a gift,” noted a Seattle Weekly review of the records.
“Man, Baltimore cats are in some kind of love with the drum break.”

The driving force of B-More is the drum break, bass kick and handclap. Tracks usually gun at 120 beats per minute; it’s like
hip-hop on speed. And Lee, who has been a DJ club legend for a dozen years, is widely considered the sound’s name brand.
He’s locally known for his 4-bar vocal hooks or what he calls “the meaning of a song.”

In a traditional music sense, he’s a tastemaker,” says Adler at Morphius. “He’s like the Frank Sinatra of his culture.”

For the first time, Lee’s music has been distributed worldwide. Rather than release his own 12-inch records on he street, Lee’s
deal with Morphius makes his CD available online and in such local record stores as Record & Tape Traders, the Sound
Garden in Fells Point and the Best Buy in Timonium.

In a coming-out party of sorts, Lee appeared in New York in June to perform with Lacrate and other DJs at a Manhattan dance
club. “It was great. He’s the biggest name in Baltimore club music,” says Lacrate. “Rod is carrying the torch.”

Although this is the fifth club mix record, The Official opens with Lee introducing himself- as if he has to:

        Testing one-two …ahhh yeah… It’s good to be back…
        Yours truly, DJ Rod Lee…
        What you forgot?
        My Name?
        I said my name the first time…
        You didn’t hear me?
        Rod Lee!
Throughout the record, Lee’s repeating chants can sound like turntable’s stylus stuck in a record groove. But if it’s two a.m.
Saturday at the Paradox, then it’s not a bad groove to be stuck in . Lee’s sound is obviously danceable and intentionally rough.

“If it’s too slick, it just wouldn’t sound right.” Says Stephen Janis, who signed Lee to the Morphius label. “Rod brings a texture
to the sound. I don’t think anyone really matches him.”

On “Dance My Pain Away,” lee shows himself as a songwriter and not just a hook-maker. The singing, again is beside the point:

        Now listen to my story
        Bill collectors on me
        Have to file bankruptcy
        Need some help from somebody
        Doctor bills are stacking up
        I’m desperate to make a buck
        I played the lottery today
        Won’t you please wish me luck
        I’m going to dance my pain awayyy…

“I made that song for a mature crowd,” says Lee. Young people don’t know anything about bill collectors or filling for bankrupt-
cy, he says. Oh, he knows how to get young people to dance any kind of dance, but it’s nice to see he occasionally throws
in a song for old-timers-people over 30.

Rod Lee is 32.

He has some hair. At 6-foot-3, and in the neighborhood of 280 pounds, Lee is a formidable man. Press-shy, he can be a hard
man to track down for an interview. Whether attending a CD-release party, a meet-and-greet, a private DJ gig or producing
another DJ’s record, Lee has a busy business schedule.

“You’d never find me on the street,” he said in an interview this month from the Baltimore County Detention Center.

In Baltimore County District Court, Lee was convicted July 28 of second-degree assault stemming from a New Year’s inci-
dent. He was given a three-year jail sentence- suspended except for six months. He’s been ordered to avoid contact with the
female victim, abstain from alcohol or drug use, submit to alcohol and drug testing, and attend anger management. Lee was
jailed August 3.

“It’s unfortunate, and I feel badly for him,” says Stephen Janis at Morphius. “We’re still working his music.”

With time on his hands, Lee has been thinking about the direction of his music. He’s been thinking about serving his time, then
getting back to producing music.

He’s been thinking about his three children.

“My family is my top priority,” he says. “I feel my music is at a standstill.”

Although he has a label distributing his latest CD, Lee isn’t satisfied with making the same kind of music. Just as B-More is
gaining national exposure, Lee seems angered to move on. He’s planning another record (tentatively called The Producer) that
will produce another Baltimore sound of his own making.

“I’m going to make it harder,” he says. “I’m going to change the game.”

He wants to produce more and DJ less. Where it was once a rush to make 1,200 people dance to his music, Lee wants to
concentrate on producing other artist’s music.” That’s my rush now.” After his expected release from jail in January, he plans
to reopen his record store, Club Kingz outlet on Monument Street, and begin his own clothing line.

We might have seen the last of DJ Rod Lee-and the first of Rod Lee.

“I don’t think Baltimore is ready for it yet,” he says.
                                    BALTIMORE SUN
                                    Rod Lee — Vol. 5: The Official
                                    Rashod D. Ollison, August 2005

                                    “What is this?” I wanted to know. I was at a friend’s studio apartment in
                                    Philadelphia and he had slipped on a mix tape of some of the most urgent music
                                    I’d ever heard. It was repetitive, the layered, cheaply produced beats booming
ROD LEE                             with angry energy.

Vol. 5: The Official                “That’s from B-More,” he said. “This is what they play in the clubds down there.”

DFM-U-071                           I frowned. “Not feeling it. What else you got?”

                                    Five years later, I move to Charm City and go out to a dingy little downtown joint
                                    with another club-music-loving friend. All night long, this ferocious, sound-of-
                                    war-like music rips through the speakers. A looped sample of the Marvelettes’
                                    “Please Mr. Postman” chugs through the noisy, dense mix of kick drums. The
                                    music is relentless, frenetic and charges the sweaty dancers packing the floor.
                                    I stand back from it all. But it’s hard to stay still. Baltimore club music pushes
                                    you to move something. If you’re not dancing to it, then the sound will rattle your
                                    nerves enough to make you twitch.

                                    It’s a sub-genre that has been indigenous to Baltimore for about 15 years now.
                                    In that time, it has hardly ventured out of the area. Part of the reason is that the
                                    music’s producers ignore copyright laws regarding the use of samples, so the
                                    mixes are played mostly in nightspots. But beyond that, Baltimore Club isn’t
                                    easy to digest. The national release of Volume 5: The Official by Rod Lee, one
                                    of the sound’s originators, has lately generated a little buzz in national press.

                                    But does Baltimore Club have potential for going mainstream? Will the tense,
                                    sometimes strangely hypnotic barrage of beats make it on Clear Channel
                                    owned radio stations and Billboard’s Hot 100?

                                    Those questions are hard to answer, as pop audiences are notoriously fickle
                                    and seldom warm to raw, unruly music. To cross over, Baltimore Club has to be
                                    streamlined a bit. It’s not a friendly, approachable sound. There’s nothing sub-
                                    tle about it. It’s unabashedly grimy and in your face, which appeals to some crit-
                                    ics and dogged underground lovers who prefer their sounds unpolished.

                                    However, it’s not entirely unlikely that Baltimore club music could trickle in to
                                    the mainstream. Other sounds incubated in dank little nightspots eventually
                                    exploded. Remember disco? Before pop folks embraced the campy theatrics
                                    and dramatic tempo changes in the music of Gloria Gaynor and Donna
                                    Summer, these artists’ records were mainstays in black, Latin and gay clubs
Exclusively Distributed by          along the East Coast. But unlike the hard, loaded feel of Baltimore club music,
Morphius Records, Inc.              disco was more pliable. Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, architects of the cele-
PO Box 13474, Baltimore, MD 21203
                                    brated “Philly Soul sounds,” added lush strings and swinging horn charts to the
Press contact: Simeon Walunas       4/4 beat. Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, Summer’s famed European pro-
410.662.0112, fax 410.662.0116      duction team, embellished disco with odd robotic synth drums, tooting whistles                 and rock guitars.
In the early ‘90s, elements of Chicago’s house music- an electronic, bass-thick offshoot of disco- appeared in Billboard’s top
10 thanks to acts like Crystal Waters and CeCe Peniston. But as it is, Baltimore club music, with its frantic tempo, aggres-
sive posturing and frank, not fit-for-print lyrics, is too inaccessible to pop audiences. There’s no catchy hook, no melody what-

But it’s turgid sound has already influenced more adventurous major-label artists like Sri Lankan rapper-singer M.I.A. Her
acclaimed debut album, Arulr, released by Interscope Records in March, features glints of Baltimore club music. The kinetic
track “U.R.A.Q.T.” bristles with a spliced piece of the Sanford and Son theme, reminiscent of the repetitive sampling style
heard in B-More club music. (Of course, M.I.A. got permission to use the sample).

After 15 years of not making much noise outside of the region, Baltimore club music finally gets a chance to catch ears with
the national distribution of Rod Lee’s overlong CD. The cuts, some blistering with explicit lyrics, are concussive with rattling,
unrelenting breakbeats. The music makes no apologies. In a way, its nastiness is exciting. And that may be much too much for
pop audiences right now.
                                    Rod Lee — “Vol 5: The Official”
                                    Jon Caramanica, November 2005

                                    A coming-out party for Baltimore’s sleazy club jams
                                    Hip-hop is such a global juggernaut that it’s easy to forget there are still region-
Vol. 5: The Official                al black sounds, too. Detroit has its techno and, more recently, its ghetto tech.
                                    Chicago has created to house-heads and steppers for decades. Miami’s bass
DFM-U-071                           music still thrives in obscurity, as did Atlanta’s for many years before crunk; and
                                    Washington, D.C. go-go remains content not to cross the Maryland line.

                                    Just across the border, Baltimore has “club” (or house, or breaks, depending on
                                    who you ask), a refreshingly lewd, jubilant, and pneumatic style. DJ/producer
                                    Rod Lee is the biggest name of the sound’s third, maybe fourth wave since it’s
                                    late- 80s inception, and he hews tightly to the party line on Vol.5, the first B-
                                    more mix with national distribution (thanks, presumably, to the sound’s sudden
                                    cachet with baile funk and grime loving hipsters out for a new fix). Baltimore
                                    club is ass music, pure and simple, all whimsical samples and aerobics-worthy
                                    momentum. Some songs forego sex, but most don’t hide their panting or their
                                    periodically troubling gender politics: “Nobody got me pussy-whipped,” etc.
                                    (Sometimes art and life are too close: Lee, who produced or co produced all
                                    the songs here, was convicted of second-degree assault of a woman.) Most of
                                    these tracks are stubbornly straightforward- a few shouted chants over a drum
                                    machine stuck on repeat-but the results, like the vindictive “You Keep Fuckin
                                    Around” and the hypnotic “Watch My Ass,” can be glorious, even if Lee hasn’t
                                    updated his palette of drum breaks since Rob Base’s “It Takes Two.”

                                    AS with most of the aforementioned regional black subcultures, this is a sound
                                    in constant dialogue with its bullying older brother: The minor-key piano from Lil
                                    Scrappy’s “No Problem” pops up, accompanied by a chorus of woofs, on KW
                                    Griff’s excellent “The Problem.”

                                    But what sets B-more club apart is its willingness to engage everything else,
                                    too: Recent popular tracks sample the theme of SpongeBob SquarePants and
                                    Dora the Explorer. Here we get Bernie Mac and “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow
                                    Polka Dot Bikini” reinterpreted as a call to frantic lust. It’s the tip of the iceberg
                                    for a scene that grinningly welcome all corners, before gratuitously turning them

Exclusively Distributed by
Morphius Records, Inc.
PO Box 13474, Baltimore, MD 21203

Press contact: Simeon Walunas
410.662.0112, fax 410.662.0116
                                    Dance the Pain Away
                                    — S.H. Fernando, Jr.

                                    As the murder rate rises and the heroin scourge continues, so does the
ROD LEE                             indomitable sound of Baltimore club music. After giving stressed-out locals an
                                    ass-wigglin’ boost for more than 15 years, the secretive scene finally may be
Vol. 5: The Official                ready for the outside world.

DFM-U-071                           “Hey, ball-i-more!” shouts Club Queen K-Swift, a mane of shiny black ringlets
                                    cascading over her face. Chants of “Hey, hey, hey,” from Blaq Starr’s “Hey,
                                    Motherfucker (Clean Version),” punctuate a wall of kick drums and bass as the
                                    tension rises. In a voice like a drill instructor, K-Swift commands, “We bangin’
                                    the club music real sir-ious.” Her French-manicured fingers flip the fader as she
                                    delivers the payoff—handclaps crashing over shuffling percussion—and studio
                                    monitors rattle and bounce. It’s 9:34 P.M. on a Monday, and K-Swift (real name:
                                    Khia Edgerton), 27, is making her job of the last four years—hosting the Off the
                                    Hook mix show on 92Q Jams, Baltimore’s 92.3 FM (WERG)—look easy. From
                                    6 to 9:30, Monday to Friday night, the show is standards hip-hop and R&B. But
                                    the last half hour (more on Fridays) is dedicated to the raucous sound called
                                    Baltimore club.

                                    For the 650,000 or so residents of the predominantly black, working-class town
                                    known variably as “Bodymore, Murderland,” or just plain “B-more,” this is their
                                    homegrown soundtrack. K-Swift quickly segues to another record, on which her
                                    friend and scene godfather Rod Lee sings with a surprising earnestness, given
                                    the music’s often lewd subject matter:

                                        “Now listen to my story
                                        Bill collectors on me
                                        Have to file bankruptcy
                                        Need some help from somebody
                                        Doctor bills are stacking up
                                        I’m desperate to make a buck
                                        ! played the lottery today
                                        Won’t you please wish me luck
                                        I’m going to dance my pain away.”

                                    When the steady boom kicks back in, one of the speakers is left shredded. K-
                                    Swift calmly changes the blown fuse. Evidently, she’s had to do this before.

Exclusively Distributed by          Ever since 50 Cent’s The Massacre blew up the spot, millions know about the
Morphius Records, Inc.              city’s brutal romance with heroin (see Fiddy’s A Baltimore Love Thing”). But
PO Box 13474, Baltimore, MD 21203   that’s not the only problem. Baltimore is second in the country in murders per
                                    capita (tied with Detroit), trailing only New Orleans. they don’t film the gritty
Press contact: Simeon Walunas
                                    HBO series The Wire here for nothing. But when B-more residents want to
410.662.0112, fax 410.662.0116                 escape the grind, they know how to get down and dirty. Baltimore club is raw                    party music that crosses the incessant thud of house with hyperspeed hip-hop
                                    breaks and sampled sound bites (often X-rated and repeated ad infinitum). Its
                                    aggression reflects the city’s harsh urban landscape, but there’s also a reck-
                                    less, playful quality that mirrors a drive to transcend the blight. Similar to other
                                    regional mutations of rhythm—crunk from the Dirty South, grime for East
                                    London, or baile funk of Brazil—B-more club is staunchly local and has devel-
                                    oped out of the spotlight for years. these days, though, it’s bubbling across the
                                    city’s beltway and beyond. rod Lee recently released the first widely available
                                    B-more club music album, his Vol. 5: The Official, on local label Morphius, tap-
                                    ping into its global distribution network. Meanwhile, DJs like K-Swift, technics,
                                    and Scottie B spin to packed rooms in Philadelphia and New York. Blogs have
                                    been buzzing about the sound being the next big thing, but its roots run deep.

                                    Rewind to the mid-’80s, when Chicago house music was transforming the
                                    world of beats. Atlanta radio personality Frank Ski, who was then DJ’ing at bal-
                                    timore’s urban powerhouse V-103, started playing just the break, or the most
ROD LEE                             climactic part of house records, in the same wa that Kool DJ Herc and Afrika
                                    Bambaataa created hip-hop out of snippets of old funk, soul, rock, and jazz.
                                    Until then, house had been a mostly gay scene that was shunned by the macho
Vol. 5: The Official
                                    rap crowd. “[Frank} made it cool to be into house,” says Scottie B, a.k.a. Scott
DFM-U-071                           Rice, 37, a Baltimore DJ who also worked in a local record store. Inspired by
                                    artists like the U.K.’s Blapps Posse and Dynamic Guvnors, as well as the
                                    Chicago sound of DJ Fast Eddie, Tyree, and Farley Jackmaster Funk, Scottie B
                                    and his friend DJ Shawn “Ceez” Caesar, 34, began to dabble with their own
                                    tracks. they spun the results—Caesar’s “Yo Yo Where Tha Hoes At” (1991) and
                                    Scottie B’s “I Got Rhythm” (1991), in particular—at clubs like Paradox and

                                    Then, in the summer of ‘92, Frank Ski, using the alias 2 Hyped Brothers and a
                                    Dog, unleashed the breakout hit “Doo Doo Brown,” which was simply a two-bar
                                    loop from “C’mon Babe” by Miami rappers 2 Live Crew with the repetitively
                                    chanted title as the hook. ‘When Frank dropped that, it pretty much set the tone
                                    for what was gonna be goin’ on as far as club music,” says Grant Burley III, 33,
                                    better known in the B-more scene as producer Booman. Even today, many B-
                                    more club tracks use the break on Lyn Collins’ “Think (About It)” featured in
                                    “Doo Doo Brown.”

                                    Around the same time, Scottie B and Caesar were recruited by independent
                                    entrepreneur Ronald Mills, then a manager at Paradox, to make a track with
                                    Miss Tony, whom he describes as a “six-foot, 300-pound Biggie Smalls look-
                                    alike drag queen.” (Tony passed away in 2003.) This became the local hit
                                    “Whatz Up? Whatz Up?/How You Wanna Carry It,” which Mills released as a
                                    12-inch single on his Sinical imprint in 1993. At the song’s conclusion, Miss
                                    Tony chants, “Unruly, unruly, unruly,” a rallying cry that became so closely asso-
                                    ciated with the producers of the record that it helped popularize their soon-to-
                                    be influential label Unruly Records.

                                    Between 1993 and ‘97, Unruly released more than 40 12-inch singles by artists
                                    such as KW Griff, Jimmy Jones, Karizma, Big Red, DJ Technics, and DJ Class.
                                    “We spit ‘em out like we had problems, because we wanted to brand ourselves
                                    with the music,” says Caesar, who is now a music buyer for the Downtown
                                    Locker Room sporting goods chain but still runs the label with Scottie B. And
                                    it worked—Unruly cornered the Baltimore club market. Because its stable of
Exclusively Distributed by          producers moonlighted as club and radio DJs, it could promote the music
Morphius Records, Inc.              directly to the people, nurturing a strong demand.
PO Box 13474, Baltimore, MD 21203

Press contact: Simeon Walunas       When Unruly’s output quieted in the late ‘90s, Rod Lee began to dominate the
410.662.0112, fax 410.662.0116      scene with his Club Kingz label. Lee’s product was so hot that DJs were willing                 to pay up to $19.99 for his latest 12-inch, sold exclusively at the now defunct                    store Music Liberated, before Lee opened his own Club Kingz outlet in 2003.
                                    Though he claims to have been contacted by various major labels over the years
                                    (he won’t name names), Lee, in true baltimore character, seems comfortable to
                                    reign as the biggest artist on the local scene.

                                    It’s “Super Sunday” night at Hammerjacks, a converted warehouse near
                                    Interstate 83 (the highway that runs through downtown Baltimore), and the
                                    queue winds around the building. The 17-and-over crowd is dressed in typical
                                    hip-hop attire—long white T-shirts and baseball caps for the guys, skin-tight
                                    jeans and stiletto heels for the girls. After plunking down $10 and getting
                                    frisked, you’re met by a deafening barrage of thumping bass and ferocious
                                    polyrhythms as a crowd of about 1,800 kids, 99 percent black, gets busy. Not
                                    a soul is holding up the walls, and it feels like the joint is about to come tum-
                                    bling down. Jenny Craig junkies would be envious of the workout these kids are
                                    getting. Some execute fluid break-dance moves to the sped-up tempos, other
                                    give a veritable Kama Sutra demonstration. A chant of “Watch my ass as I’m
ROD LEE                             grinding on your dick” reverberates through the speakers like a porn version of
                                    Simon says. The music is all about the buildup and the release, and K-Swift is
                                    one of the finest at controlling the flow. But as the only female DJ in a largely
Vol. 5: The Official
                                    male scene, she’s encountered some jealousy from peers who wonder why pro-
DFM-U-071                           ducers are giving “this girl” exclusive CD-Rs of the hottest new songs.
                                    Regardless, her following continues to grow.

                                    K-Swift recently discovered a fan base she never knew she had, when she was
                                    invited to play a private gig thrown by promoter and record-store owner Jason
                                    Urick. “I got a phone call about a party in a loft, right here on Mulberry and
                                    Franklin Street,” she relates from the lounge at 92Q Jams following her radio
                                    shift. “My manager booked it and we go there. I walk in and the building looks
                                    like the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, graffiti everywhere, punk-rock
                                    kids, all this crazy weird stuff. Like, what kind of party is this? I had no idea.”

                                    Wide-eyed, she continues: “I thought it was a rock'n'roll party, but I get in there
                                    and everyone is dancing to Baltimore club. And when I walked in, they treated
                                    my like I was a queen, for real. ‘Oh my gosh, she’s here!’ ‘Can you sign an auto-
                                    graph?’ Everyone was coming up to me to take pictures. I had some of my
                                    friends with me, and they started taking pictures with their camera phones
                                    because they couldn’t believe these people were dancing to Baltimore club
                                    music. The best crowd I’ve ever DJ’d for in my life!”

                                    According to Urick, about 350 people, mostly white, attended the party last
                                    summer, including fans who came all the way from Connecticut and
                                    Philadelphia just to see K-Swift. Explaining Baltimore club’s attraction and sud-
                                    den appeal outside its core urban audience, Urick says, “It’s just raw and heavy,
                                    and I wouldn’t say primitive, but it kinda is. When you hear that beat, it’s hard
                                    not to dance to.”

                                    The sound has already infiltrated the mix shows on Philly’s Power 99, as well as
                                    the clubs of New Jersey, and it is finding a welcoming audience among
                                    Manhattan’s primarily white downtown scene. Gary Hun, 26, who promotes
                                    nights called Keep It on Safety and Flight Club, recently brought Scottie B up
                                    to spin at Happy Ending in Chinatown and K-Swift to play at Crime Scene Bar
                                    & Lounge, across the street from CBGB on the Bowery. “When these DJs
                                    come up, they kill it every time, and mad people come out for it,” says Hunt, who
Exclusively Distributed by          plans to have B-more DJs back on a regular basis. “[The music] makes anyone
Morphius Records, Inc.              want to party.”
PO Box 13474, Baltimore, MD 21203

Press contact: Simeon Walunas       “We have seen a lot of distributors and stores that just sell punk or indie rock
410.662.0112, fax 410.662.0116      come in and buy it,” says Stephen Janis, chief operations officer at Morphius.                 “And they’ve sold it, not in great quantities, but enough to say that this is some                    sort of phenomenon.”
                                    “What makes [B-more club] resonate is its component of reality; people are
                                    looking for something real,” he elaborates.“ The white DJs pick up on it because
                                    they’ve never conceived of anything like this. They wouldn’t put music together
                                    like that. It’s a world they don’t even know.” In fact, Hollertronix DJ Diplo, who
                                    discovered Baltimore club through the Internet when he was teaching inner city
                                    youth in Philadelphia, admits to feeling like “a fed” when he first went to
                                    Baltimore in search of the hard-to-find music. “Why don’t these people just be
                                    a little more out there, wanting to promote the music?” he asks. “It’s almost like
                                    they want to stay in baltimore and keep it Baltimore.”

                                    To a certain extent, he’s not wrong. Glenn Brand, 34, who produces club tracks
                                    as DJ Technics explains: “What we’re doing, other people are interested in, but
                                    we’re not interested in what they have to offer for it, because once again it will
                                    become their product and not ours. Major labels are only interested in making
ROD LEE                             quick cash. They want you to modify, make changes, water it down, so the gen-
                                    eral public can understand it. But that’s not what this is. It’s rude, obnoxious, X-
                                    rated, and it’s street, and just because it can be presented on a more commer-
Vol. 5: The Official
                                    cial basis doesn’t necessarily mea it should be.” still, Diplo has done a baltimore
DFM-U-071                           club remix of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” and has incorporated a Baltimore
                                    club track (KW Griff’s “You Big Dummy”) into the song “U.R.A.Q.T.” by British
                                    rapper M.I.A.

                                    But it’s all good to Unruly’s caesar, who is in the midst of relaunching his label’s
                                    back catalog and now manages most of the DJs and producers in the scene,
                                    including K-Swift. “The big thing we’re gearing up for now is Club Classics Vol.
                                    3,” says Caesar about the double-disc package, which will be releases by year’s
                                    end. “That’s gonna tell our story. That’s going to have a ton of information with
                                    respect to where club music came from.” Caesar plays me a new cut by Blaq
                                    Starr, which sounds like a hybrid of B-more club and its Dirty South cousin,
                                    bounce. “We’re pushing the envelope with the sound,” he says. “We want it to
                                    have a national appeal without compromising the integrity of the music.”

                                    K-Swift, who recently released the sixth volume of her Club Queen mix-CD
                                    series, is awaiting her next release on Unruly. She says, “Now I’m starting to get
                                    calls from Miami and California. I’m starting to get calls from people who do
                                    these parties and want to expand this music. Whatever I can do to help it get t
                                    another level, I’m with it.”

                                    And of course there’s Rod Lee, who despite some personal setbacks (he was
                                    convicted in August for second-degree assault), is already preparing for the
                                    year ahead. “The Club Kingz back catalog is about to reissued, and can’t
                                    nobody get it until then,” he says via phone from Baltimore County Detention
                                    Center. “I got so much shit coming it’s crazy—2006 is gonna be like a monster.”

Exclusively Distributed by
Morphius Records, Inc.
PO Box 13474, Baltimore, MD 21203

Press contact: Simeon Walunas
410.662.0112, fax 410.662.0116

To top