What the funk is Jackin’ House music?

configure-disc-jockey-disco-1504Jackin house is nothing new – in fact it was around in the 80’s. So, why am I writing about it today? It’s not exactly hot news, considering there is a wikipedia page dedicated to Jacking and jackin house, but it’s new to me – so let’s talk about it. I’ll be honest and say upfront that I didn’t go back and listen to all of the roots of jackin house, yet, or even listen to all of the “big” names producing and DJing it right now – ‘journalism’ now-a-days! Reason is, to me, the history is not as important taking a look – really, a listen, to the sound. This isn’t meant to be a history lesson on jackin house or a debate on its roots or origins, so much as a brief overview of what it is, and how you can make it.

So, from my somewhat limited experience, jackin house allows for quite a bit of creative freedom, not unlike many other EDM styles where the lines can be pretty grey, at best. The common thread I’ve found, between most tracks I’ve heard is:

  • old school drum samples – think punchy, dry kickdrums, almost obnoxiously loud open hats accented by high hats
  • very little release on the percs – I tend to do with with my percussion anyway, but in jackin house – aside from maybe the occasional cymbal, the percussion is generally pretty cut and dry with the release knob cranked down
  • blaring bass – it’s fairly common to hear some 404 sounding bass, or just really punchy bass instruments
  • funky basslines – the funkier and catchier the bassline, the better
  • repetition – a lot of the jackin house tracks I’ve heard use repetition quite a bit, but those that wind up being the most interesting are where there is at least some percussive or bass variation
  • vocal samples – in probably half, if not more, tracks I’ve heard there is some vocal sampling – again, this is a great place to get creative; some favor dropping the pitch on the vocals a bit to create a darker, hous-ier (is this a word?) feel – while others do a lot of vocal cutting and chopping
  • a lot of fun – jackin house is really bringing the dancy house music vibe back to the dancefloor which for a while has been dominated by high pitched whining synths, screaming sirens and bass drops – of which some, not all, but many are getting a bit fatigued

So, why should you care about jackin house? Well, for one, it’s definitely making a comeback. With the fast rise of standout female DJ Hannah Wants, with Chris Lorenzo dominating quite a bit of the scene with his basslines, with the pure fun and energy that jackin house brings back to the club, it’s hard not to be at least slightly infatuated with it. Is it a fad? Well, everything in music comes and goes, and comes and goes again, so yeah it’s probably pretty safe to say that the popularity of the subgenre will rise and then fall and then perhaps rise again with some new added twists. But, like any great party, you might as well enjoy it while it lasts!

For a quick and dirty lesson on what jackin house sounds like, check out Hannah Wants’ Soundcloud and listen to some of her outstanding jackin house mixtapes.