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  • Writer's pictureAndy Przybyla

Genres that aren't Genres

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

From time to time as a DJ we get asked to play a type of music rather than be given a song request. In some cases its pretty easy like with Motown (not a Genre, just a style of music named after the record label which was mainly rhythm and blues), but it can also be as blunt as play something we can dance to!

This is a little blog post about a few non-genres that creep up from time to time. I won't look at Northern Soul as a few years back I did a whole post on that which can be found here I will cover a few I've been asked for since that are possibly a bit little less known.

Rare Grooves

This was similar to Northern Soul in that it was music that at the time was very hard to source and relatively obscure but rather than soul music this was funk, jazz and a more groovy vibe. The term was coined by Kiss94 FM DJ Norman Jay who imported 1970s tracks for his show from the American Underground Scene. Rare Grooves can often find themselves getting sampled like in the very recent track by LF System, Afraid to Feel which heavily samples the Silk song I Can't Stop (Turning on You)

A few examples of Rare Groove tracks might see you recognise the band but not the song as this is pretty obscure stuff. I Believe In Miracles - The Jackson Sisters, Patrice Rushen - Number One, James Brown - Slaughter's Big Rip Off. Like Northern Soul people collect Rare Grooves on vinyl and these can go for a pretty penny if there sough after and rare enough.

Phili' Sound

The Sound of Philadelphia much like Motown was born from the PIR (Philadelphia International Records) label with acts such as The O'Jays, Patti LaBelle, Teddy Pendergrass, The Three Degrees and The Spinners. This was mostly soul music but had a funky side to it often featuring sweeping strings and piercing horns. This music laid the groundwork for Disco to follow by merging the rhythm of R&B with Pop Vocals and melodic structures and arrangements.


Another non-genre we get asked for loads is Clubland. This originated as a brand for albums and a TV channel which focussed on Dance Music but featured all sorts of genres such as Trance, House, Bounce and even span off into RnB and Hardcore. People generally use the term now for just good Dance Music from the 90s onwards. There are many similar contemporaries such as Hed Kandi, Popwork, Kisstory which cover other types on music but are essentially just brands rather than genres. I've even heard it referred to as Donny (Doncaster) Dance.

As DJs we totally don't mind being asked for a non-genre but you may not always get the songs your looking for. You may be a secret lover of Rare Grooves and find that the DJ just doesn't carry the songs. You might ask for some Clubland and get a bunch of tracks that are not really the ones you wanted (example you fancy some Cascada but get a Ultrabeat or Flip & Fill). The best way to get what you want is to be specific and accept that the DJ may not have the song. Hope you enjoyed this look at Genres that aren't Genres, see you on the next blog post.

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