King Britt hits the Redline

US funk royalty comes to Basstown; Hearthrob in Montreal
By DAVID DAY  |  February 20, 2007

King Britt
KING BRITT is more than When the Funk Hits the Fan, his hit CD from 1998. Britt founded Ovum recordings, one of the most successful house labels in the US; he’s DJ’d for the Digable Planets, and he takes his house sets on annual international excursions. The guy is a music giant. So why is he coming to town this Friday and, particularly, to the intimate confines of Harvard Square’s Redline club? “There’s a lot of positive things going on right now in Boston,” he says over the phone from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he just finished a lecture. “I used to play there all the time, all the raves thrown by the Mello Brothers outside of Boston, I played with ARMAND VAN HELDEN at the Loft. It has always been a positive scene for me. A lot of people have left, and I guess I got lost in the shuffle, but I’m glad to be coming back.”

King Britt is from Philadelphia, so he was just a jump from Boston almost any day of the week. What’s more, his diverse music knowledge and ability allows him to play almost any club. He may be best known for his funk and R&B styles, but he loves to experiment within multiple genres. “I look at music as a language. I don’t look at it as genres and subgenres; unfortunately, we need those genres for the marketing in the stores. As far as me as a DJ, I am constantly playing different styles. Music is a way to communicate — texturally, sonically — so house, techno, downtempo, drum ’n’ bass, whatever, it all correlates. It’s a language for different dialects. I just try and translate all those genres into different dialects.”

“I feel DJs like King Britt are great unifiers,” writes CHARLES LEVINE via e-mail. Levine is not only a member of opening duo Soul Clap but also one part of Next Generation Productions, which is promoting the event. Levine also name-checks Detroit DJ myth THEO PARRISH and 7L’s KENNY DOPE as unifiers. “Boston has such segregated music, even within the local DJ culture, that it’s important to showcase acts that can dance between soul, funk, hip-hop and, most important, tie these styles to house and techno.”

Britt: “I used to go to gigs where people want me to play only house, only downtempo. But that’s changing, I’m doing more and more gigs where I can play everything. I did a night at Deep Space [NYC] and they let me play all over the place.” Britt is touring on the strength of Deep ’N Sexy 4, the fourth volume of Wave Music’s mix-CD series. He was committed to making it more than a mix, however, and the elements showcase his massive production skills. “I used Ableton Live [software] to create a more produced mix CD. I brought in someone to do overdubs, my boy to play some guitar work.”

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