Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983
Tim Lawrence is Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of East London and the author of Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970–1979 and Hold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973–1992, both also published by Duke University Press.
The New Urban Street Sound
As references to R&B began to reenter the lexicon, Larry Levan delivered mix after mix that fed into the resurgent groove. Released on West End in early 1981, “Heartbeat” became a standout release. Tee Scott came as close as anyone to keeping pace with Levan. Continuing to mesh innovative production values with a rhythm and blues groove, Kevorkian completed his own flurry of releases. The new wave of releases carried dance music into terrain that was grittier and tougher than anything occupied by late disco. Sugar Hill held onto its vanguard position in rap when it released “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel.” Dance Music publisher Tom Silverman released his first rap track— “Havin’ Fun,” mixed by Bambaataa—at the end of the year. Silverman proceeded to invite disco producer Arthur Baker to record a rap/disco track “Jazzy Sensation” with Bambaataa.