Dajae - Higher Power

_ This album rocks! All of the Chicago House hits are there - "Brighter Days" [classic in the making], "U Got Me Up", "Is It All Over My Face" [thanks to the genius of Hula and K. Fingers], "Fakes & Phonies", and "Day by Day" [another classic in the making]. These songs are pure Chicago House and are partly responsible for the revolution in underground dance. There are also the other songs that are of a slower tempo but are still dancable: "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" and "The Other Side" Thanks to E-Smoove and Hula & K. Fingers for those songs. Basically the album is a reflection of the homegrown talent -- only three different producer/writing teams, all from Chicago! This is a brilliant album that does not disappoint. Make your purchase by any means necessary!

New Chicago House Sound

_ In 1992 there was a new sheriff in town and his name was Cajmere. He had already been working with the Underground Crew and Clubhouse Records for the previous couple of years but he sounded so unique that it seemed evident that he would create a new phenomenon in Chicago. That phenom would become Cajual Records. What was so special about Cajual Records? Deep house vocals, driving beats and rhythms, and a slick logo! The spotlight on underground dance music had essentially come back home to Chicago. This album illustrates how that was possible. Cajual, like any great label, already had a potential "star" in the form of Dajae -- check "Brighter Days" and "U Got Me Up"! Cajmere also offers his own material including the ever popular "Percolator". There is also the alter ego of Green Velvet, courtesy of the newly created sister label Relief. Add in the new artist development (another trait of a great label) and a couple of remixed records and you have an excellent compilation which is a breath of fresh air (as it was at the time of release). If you find yourself longing for some feel-good music then this is the album for you!

The Many Shades of Cajual

_ A city's music scene is often defined by two things: the DJs and the independent record labels. For example, Chicago in the 80s: DJs - Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy, Hot Mix 5. Independent Record Labels - Trax, D.J. International, Dance Mania. Now let's look at Chicago in the 90s: DJs - Terry Hunter, Steve "Silk" Hurley, Derrick Carter. Record Labels - Vibe Music, ID Records, C A J U A L From the moment it hit the scene in 1992 Cajual Records proved to be the groundbreaker that Chicago needed. The city now had a new identity and the House scene could truly move forward. This album bridged the gap between the old school and the new. It was aptly titled "The Many Shades of Cajual" because it truly reflected the various styles of not only the artists on the label, but the house music scene in general. House music was never really about just one particular "piece of the pie", although it was developed from disco -- there was always more than one sould to disco (check Salsoul). This album illustrates that fact perfectly. DJ Sneak carries the old school torch with his disco samples which are riding a driving beat. Perhaps a little "Nu Disco" would be in order -- bring on Braxton Holmes. How about a little Jazz courtesy of Gemini. It is noteworthy that before the "Nu Soul" of today's era there was a bit of that going on in the House circuit, and the main architects were GU and Big Ed -- check it! Alongside the "Nu Soul" we can't forget about the vocals of Dajae and Terence FM, two of the labels premier artists. Of course we have soulful tracks thanks to Boo Williams and Johnny Fiasco. And finally the deep house masters of Derrick Carter, Mark Grant, and Cajmere. This compilation was released in 1996, at a time when Chicago was making serious waves in the House circuit in the U.S. and overseas. One listen and it will become evident why Cajual Records was synonymous with worldwide acclaim. Just ask any Chicagoan over the age of 25 and they should remember the name Cajual...after listening to the album you will too!

The Future Sound of Chicago V.1: Cajual/Relief

_ Only in "revisited" Chicago would two labels (Cajual & Relief) release two compilations in two years. This is a testament to the diversity of the artists on both labels. It should be a well known fact that Cajual was geared more towards songs while Relief was geared more towards tracks. So what's the score here? A clever compilation of tracks from both labels -- not many words, just grooves and beats. The majority of the titles here are from Relief, making it a more tracky affair. Not my most favorite compilation but if you just want to dance this will serve that purpose. If you're a trackhead this is definitively your album!