Black Futures: In the new millennium, the dance remix reigns supreme : World Cafe : World Cafe Words and Music Podcast For Black History Month, World Cafe correspondent John Morrison explores the trends that have defined dance music in the 2000s and beyond.

Black Futures: In the new millennium, the dance remix reigns supreme

John Morrison on World Cafe

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Kaytranada Liam Macrae/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Liam Macrae/Courtesy of the artist


Liam Macrae/Courtesy of the artist

As dance music crossed into the new millennium, the metamorphic energy of the '90s entered warp speed. Genres that had birthed subgenres were now resulting in ever more nuanced microgenres.

"Broken beat, dubstep, grime, Baltimore and Jersey Club are still going strong," says World Cafe correspondent John Morrison. "It's just been waves and waves of these rapidly evolving styles and scenes, and in the past few years, I've noticed a kind of, like, hyperfixation on remixing amongst young musicians."

Morrison says music is more fluid and ever-changing now than at any time in our history, and dance music is right in the center of that movement. Remixing has enabled DJs and producers to endlessly rearrange and alter original tracks.

The term comes from the disco era. It's attributed to producer and engineer Tom Moulton, who worked on a lot of tracks for Philly International Records in the '70s.

"Tom would physically re-edit the tape recording of disco tunes and extend certain sections," Morrison says. "He would take 8 bars or 16 bars of a drum section, cut the tape with a razor and extend it."

Modern remixing is also indebted to Jamaican dubbing, in which producers would take popular reggae songs and alter them using signal processors like EQ and delay.

Morrison says contemporary producers, like Kaytranada and Flying Lotus, keep those traditions of innovation alive.


"When you hear dance music today, a lot of it has this kind of expanding and contracting sound. It sounds like somebody's turning a volume knob up and down," he says. "That's a mixing technique called sidechain compression. If you hear that, the producer who did it was likely influenced by Kaytranada or maybe Flying Lotus."

Morrison points to social media as another catalyst shaping the sound of dance music in the new millennium.

"Platforms like TikTok and Instagram not only allow music to spread around the world almost instantaneously, these apps actually allow users to change the character of the songs, as well," he says.

Sped-up versions of popular songs have proliferated in recent years as social media users have gained the ability to essentially make their own remixes.

As always, this segment is best heard, so tune in through the audio player above. And make sure to check out the playlist of dance tracks from the 2000s and beyond in the playlist below.

This episode of World Cafe was produced and edited by Miguel Perez. Our senior producer is Kimberly Junod and our engineer is Chris Williams. Our programming and booking coordinator is Chelsea Johnson and our line producer is Will Loftus.