They say a picture is worth 1000 words, but the above is worth about 20 dollars in singles. Thomas “DJ Slugo” Kendricks’ music has kept Chicago moving for over 20 years now, and the self-proclaimed Ghetto Don has shown no slowing down. Touching the tenants of housing projects, ravers, and European superstars, the rhythm of the streets that Slugo helped pioneer is a favorite around these parts. From the flat ass anthem Cardboard Booty to the low end madness of Where Yo Werks At?, the high roller of Ghetto House has provided his listeners with Juke music with a soul. This is fuckin’ and shit talking music, but by no means primitive. The depth of the music is thickened by Slugo’s deep, raspy voice and the entanglement of sounds being pitched both up and down. What we have here is on some grown man shit, with room for the ladies too (see Wouldn’t You Like to Be a Hoe). Music for those living that vulture life, or for those in need of a direction to the nearest whore in the house.
Slugo was kind enough to invite me out to the Bloc Club’s west side studio to hang out and get a few words about the state of Chicago Ghetto House in the days of old and new. Dice were rolled, money was lost, and I think I sorta interrupted a recording session. Much love to the entire crew and of course Slugo himself who put up with my broke-ass-no-having-a-drivers-license ways.
Me: Lets start things off with an intro, who you are, where your from…
Slugo: DJ Slugo south side…(talking in background) hey be quiet! DJ…(laughter) Shut up! Come on yall! DJ Slugo south side of Chicago man, 49th and State, vulture city.
Describe a typical day
Typyical day? Um, basically getting up um, getting my daily activities together, and um mostly coming over to the studio over here with my Bloc Club partners. Other then that, spending time with my kids and stuff of that nature.
So music is a full time job for you?
yeah, that’s how I eat all the way around the board, music. That’s how I’ve been living for the last 20 some years.
What got you started in making house music?
Really my cousins, my cousins used to be DJs. I watched them DJ for years and then um, it was a hobby that turned into a job, so basically my cousins, watching my cousins do their thing and then you know, wanting to do what they were doing.
What records got you started in house music?
My favorite record was umm…Beat that Bitch with Bat. When I heard that one that changed the game for me and a few of my other partners you know, Deeon, Milton. When we heard that record that record was like wait, we can curse? You know what I’m saying, we was used to hearing It’s a Cold World and Gotta Have House, and things like that. When we heard Beat that Bitch with a Bat, and then we heard Hoes in this House , you know it was like man we could start doing it, you know we were already doing the beats and you know using the different slangs in the neighborhood for the songs but we didn’t think anybody would you know, that it would go as far as it would go today.
How has house music changed since you started?
Uh…drastically, it went from 135 BPMs to now 170. It’s like Juke music, uh footwork music is almost like techno you know what I’m saying so its like, out of control. It went from Farley and Steve Hurley and them to me and DJ Deeon and them, then to some of them footwork guys. I don’t really know which one of them is the top guy making the footwork music but it’s A LOT of em. So it’s everyone of em that have Fruity Loops, now everyone of them got Fruity Loops.
What do you have to say about other music like Baltimore Club and Detroit Techno that grew up at the same time as Chicago’s Ghetto House?
Yeah, its basically all the same. Everybody tries to say who started it first but, to me its no big deal. It’s like we could care less who started it, where is it at now? You know, I’m all for Baltimore Club, all for Detroit Techno, all for Detroit Ghetto Tech, anything that furthers what we all created back in the days I’m all for it. So I don’t care who started it or what started it, it’s just where its going or who’s gonna make the money when it gets there.
So what are the Bloc Club DJs?
My cousin and a couple of his buddies had a crew called the Bloc Club Music Group and we all ended up hooking up together and it had a…at this time I was with the Violator DJs, we had Violator Juke Squad DJs. A few things didn’t work out for us so we decided to go our separate ways and started the Bloc Club DJs and that’s how we ended up with that.
You recently got handed over Dance Mania records right?
What are the plans for that?
Actually, there’s so much drama behind it, the Dance Mania thing is like Ray Barney has given permission to anybody that was on the label to use it in whatever way they please. It’s like me and Deeon we went and did the paperwork on it and all that but after we did the paperwork we got like maybe 30 complaints like a month later you know “he said I could use it” and all that so we decided to go back to our original subsidiary labels that were on Dance Mania, Freakmode and Subterranean Playhouse. So, Dance Mania is cool and it’s always good to live off the name that is what gave us our start but, you know we could care less it’s not a name it’s the music , its always been the music you know. So if you keep making good music whatever the name behind the good music is the name people are going to be listening to anyways.
Whats the venue system like these days with clubs and Juke music?
Well Chicago is, Chicagos terrible. Like, Chicago, I can’t believe we made this music here and it’s one of the cities that it’s the least played in. You know, I go to other cities you know, play in these other cities and its like bananas. Come back home and you can’t even get 6 Juke records played in the club you know what I’m saying so, it’s like ridiculous here. Chicago is like, I mean it’s my city and I love my city and don’t want to say too much bad about the city but it’s bad that when a genre of music starts in a city and they don’t have the love for it anymore. That’s crazy.
So you like playing house parties more than clubs?
Yeah, I love…actually I love raves more than anything. The raves are like off the chain because people are into the music you know. It’s not about what you got on or who got on what, or who’s who in the party you know. Raves are just, everybody comes, they come and see their favorite DJ and listen to their favorite music and go home in peace you know. The worst thing that can happen is maybe somebody ODs you know. No shooting, no nothing. I would rather DJ a rave in other cities on any given day.
What do you think about the European attention that Chicago House has gotten?
Well actually a lot of people don’t know just how big dance music and especially the Juke music and the Ghetto House music is in places like Germany and France and the UK and places of that nature. I really didn’t know how big it was until the guys from Daft Punk actually came to Chicago and then they did that record Teachers and put me and Deeon and all that on it. People kept telling us “ya’ll on this record teachers” I was like we some neighborhood cats we don’t know what no damn teachers is. When I did the Cardboard Booty record and it became #1 in the UK and I began to see the little royalty things and I was like OK, I’m fuckin’ with Euros you know what I’m saying. I’m real happy that it reached that level you know what I’m saying, I could really care less about how it does in the states because it’s real big overseas you know. Me and Deeon can’t travel right now so as soon as they give us our passports!…It’s gonna be trouble over there.
What can we expect in 2009?
Well right now my goal is to have one of the biggest dance labels in the Midwest, not just Chicago you know. Me and (DJ)Godfather from Detroit have been sitting down and making a few plays because you know he has Electro Bounce and Electro Bounce is getting extremely big now and I think I’m gonna A&R everything that comes out of Chicago for him. That’s one of the big things we doing right now. I also got the Subterranean label which is a subsidiary of dance mania and I got a few guys on there but I think I’m just gonna use that strictly for me and whatever name that me and Godfather come up with for the label for Chicago to do the A&R thing. I’ll use that to be the backbone of what I wanna do as far as this dance thing coming out the Midwest.
Who do you think is doing the best music today as far as Juke goes?
Well they kind of like killed…a lot of people have walked away from Juke because its too fast now. People can’t dance and girls can’t bounce to it like they used to. They not making it like the days of old. The days of old was like 135-40 BPMs and the guys now are so into foot working that you know, they want it to be so fast that they are all “speed it up speed it up!” that it’s so fast that they keep forgetting about the people that just wanna bounce in the corner, the girls that just wanna hit the floor and bounce their ass to the floor. So, if they don’t slow it back down or take it back down to that level, because you know because me and Deeon never changed our patterns, never changed our tempo ether you know. As long as we’re able to get a few records in here and there you know I see Juke like…I’m trying to get it on the level of rap and overseas it is, but it’s just like in the states were still fighting that battle. So that’s my hope for 09-10 to get it on the level of rap in the states.
Any last thoughts or shout outs?
No shout outs none of that, just be prepared. Oh, www.djslugomusic.com that’s it. If they want to get the music I got a whole line of em, my whole catalog is up there and there’s more to come.