"You need to build buzz in your hometown before you go international." Many artists live by that mantra when they are starting their careers or giving advice to other artists. But just like all platitudes, this one can't be applied to every case. One huge exception to it is Todd Terry's illustrious career. The Brooklyn DJ applied Hip-Hop techniques to Dance music and quickly found that his penchant for House was appreciated more in England than New York. Then as his reputation started to precede him in the UK, he found a demand for his homecoming in the states. Now, he has a calendar fraught with performances around the world, releases on several labels, and his own labels to run--InHouse, SoundDesign, and Freeze Records.
Todd Terry had his start in music by producing Hip-Hop records for his friends. His friends rapped so he supplied the beats. But when Chicago House music made its way to the east coast, songs like Marshall Jefferson's “Move Your Body” (1986) got him hooked on House. He started producing House songs and shopping them around to labels, immediately finding success and releasing around 10 records his first year. His process started with recording reel to reel and then physically cutting and pasting the tape to edit his song, capturing the best parts and looping them. A majority of the sounds that he would use on his records were samples from other songs, be it from an unlabeled cassette from a friend or a well known record on the streets. He was one of the first House producers to piece together parts of other songs, namely acapellas and not just a drum line, into a new song. In a major way, he was adapting the Hip-Hop mentality of remixing something old into something new to fit Dance music.
Whether you know him as part of Masters At Work, Todd Terry All Stars, Swan Lake, Black Riot, Royal House, House of Gypsies, Soundesign, Gypsymen, Royal House, CLS, or just Todd Terry, the man has left an important and indelible mark on Dance music. Not only that, he also bridged a gap between House and Hip-Hop with his creative process and collaborations with artists like Jungle Brothers which yielded songs like "I'll House You." He continues to make new music with labels like Dim Mak, which make him as relevant as ever to new fans. Todd has been one to make music for the sake of it and never one to sacrifice his artistic integrity. Here's to a legend and future generations remembering him as such.