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Keep on Deepin' On: The 40 Best Deep House Tracks of All Time

Blood (and Tears) on the Dance Floor
by SPIN Staff

Way back in the mid-1980s, when the disco gods appeared over the Chicago skyline and proclaimed, "Let there be house," his acolytes responded, "And let it be deep." And it was good.

Slower, moodier, and more sensual than most other club-music forms — heir to disco at its most mirrorball-blissful — deep house has survived for nearly three decades, staying mostly out of the spotlight, consigned to warm-up sets and after-hours reveries. But lately, it has bubbled back to the surface.

This month, the soulful sound scored a No. 1 hit on the U.K. pop charts with Storm Queen's "Look Right Through," a '90s-flavored song by Metro Area's Morgan Geist and busker extraordinaire Damon C. Scott that was first released on Geist's Environ label in 2010. It was a more recent remix from '90s deep-house mainstay MK (Marc Kinchen), and a summer's worth of heavy club play, that finally pushed it to the top slot, on the back of MK's recent success with remixes for Lana Del Rey, Sky Ferreira, and Disclosure.

"Look Right Through" wasn't a fluke. Duke Dumont's "Need U (100%)," another U.K. No. 1, has logged more than 17 million plays on YouTube; its plunging bass line and sub-aquatic keyboard stabs are direct descendants of Kerri Chandler's deep-diving take on New Jersey garage. Disclosure, the year's biggest dance-pop crossover success story, draw heavily from the deep-house playbook in their lanky grooves and woozy atmospheres. Behind them, there's a veritable groundswell of deep-house revivalists: Jamie Jones, Maya Jane Coles, Breach, Dixon and the Innervisions crew, Axel Boman, Hot Since 82 — even Bloc Party's Kele Okereke has plunged into the full-fathom sound.

In fact, 21 of Beatport's current Top 100 tracks are tagged as deep house. That doesn't make it the most popular genre on the site, but after big-room electro house, it's tied for second place with progressive house, and boasts a stronger chart presence than tech house (14 tracks), house (12), indie dance (four), and techno and trance (two apiece). Remember dubstep? That particular wub-genre doesn't have a single song in the Top 100.

A few years ago, that would have been unthinkable; deep house's moody pulses were drowned out in a cacophony of lasers and jackhammers and drops. But deep house's deliberately low profile is beginning to bear out the old meek-will-inherit-the-earth maxim.

Why now? In part, it's a reaction to the ubiquity of EDM at its most garish and bottle-serviced. Warm, moody, sometimes hesitant, and often melancholic, deep house is the antithesis of mainstream EDM's harder/faster/stronger ethos, that capitalist ego-topia fueled by cheap presets and dodgy Molly, hell-bent on success. Deep house is contradictory, wracked with doubt, so full of blue notes it bleeds indigo. It's pro-sadness on the dance floor; pro-pathos in the mix.

Ironically, the success of deep house as an alternative to big-tent EDM has helped it creep towards the mainstream. Pete Tong's "Essential New Tune" selections increasingly lean toward deep house breakout stars like Jamie Jones and Richy Ahmet, while the rest of his show favors crossover cornballs like Afrojack and Avicii; even trance grandmaster Tiësto now has a weekly deep house radio show on Sirius XM.

We'll be the first to admit that some of the attention has been misplaced. A lot of what gets flogged as deep house right now isn't really worthy of the name; it's mid-tempo, pop-dance fare with a 2-step twist, or it's snoozy, monotone background music tailor-made for SEO plays on YouTube channels emblazoned with soft-lit hipster cheesecake. In fact, "deep house" itself is a retrospective term; in their heyday, many of the first songs in the canon were simply considered "house," full stop. It was only later that a style assembled itself around the template those originators had set.

So what classifies as deep house today? Some basic guidelines: The four-to-the-floor pulse is imbued with a suggestive bit of shuffle and swing, with accents on the two and four. The grooves are more restrained than techno's, leaning back rather than barreling forward. The tempo generally runs between 118 and 125 beats per minute, although there are many outliers. More than anything, deep house is rich in harmony and atmosphere, buoyant as a jellyfish, bursting with lush textures and phosphorescent tones. Taking the definition of deep house at its most elastic, we've selected 40 songs that trace its evolution across 27 years, one inky chord at a time. PHILIP SHERBURNE

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— The Chosen One (@KidCudi) July 8, 2020

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The 36-year-old rapper and actor will also appear in the HBO mini-series, We Are Who We Are. The coming-of-age story centers around two teenagers living on an American military base in Italy.

Watch the trailer below.

 

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According to The Hollywood Reporter, NYT writer Rukmini Callimachi and director Yoruba Richen will explore Taylor’s story, including the investigation into her death.

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The no-knock warrant that police claim they were executing at the time of the fatal shooting, was a part of a larger gentrification plan, lawyers for Taylor’s family argued in a legal complaint filed last week in connection with an ongoing lawsuit against the officers.

Taylor had no criminal history. According to the legal papers, narcotics investigators were “deliberately misled”  to her home by a police squad. A spokesperson for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has denied the allegations.

While it’s unclear when Taylor’s story will be featured on The New York Times Presents, the first episode in the series, premieres on Friday (July 10). The episode covers the doctors and nurses working in New York at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. Episode two, which follows 24-year-old recording artist, Dominic Fike, premieres on Friday, August 7.

 

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Young Thug Blasts Pusha T For Dissing Drake On Leaked Pop Smoke Song

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After the song, “Paranoia,” surfaced online this past weekend, Thugger made it clear that he didn’t know King Push was going to diss Drake on the track, which features him and Gunna.

“I don’t respect the Pusha T verse on the song with me and Gunna [because] I don’t have [nothing] to do with ya’ll beef nor does Gunna, and if I knew that was about him I would’ve made changes on our behalf..the rapper s**t so gay,” Thugger wrote on his Instagram Story early Tuesday (July 7).

“Don’t feel bad, NOBODY knew what the verse was [about],” Pusha responded in one of multiple posts accusing Drake of snitching to the record label to get the song pulled from Pop Smoke's album. “The label heads that stopped it didn’t even know. They ONLY ASSUME because HE [Drake] TOLD them! The same way HE TOLD [about] the Ross ‘Maybach 6’ verse. And if HE’LL TELL record executives [about] rap verses, God only knows what else HE’LL TELL! I don’t deal in police work, police rappers or police n**gas!!!!"

AYO PUSHA T IS SNAPPINNN ON YOUNG THUG RIGHT NOW 😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/3VHgeg9xFp

— King Wow (@wowthatshiphop) July 7, 2020

Thugger went back on Instagram and blasted Pusha for having a “weak” verse.

“First of all your verse is 7 days…that muthafucka’ weak,” he said. “Second of all, you already went crazy the first time...it an’t nothing but a sucka [move]... going on double takes, triple takes, and quadruple takes. You should’ve just got all of it out when you put the first song out.

“You didn’t even have to do all that. You just felt like you wasn’t gonna get enough views on your own s**t so you came and put some bulls**t on a n**gga' who’s resting in peace’s music. Trying to f**k up a n**ga' a whole vibe. Why the f**k you ain’t do that s**t on your own song?” ”

Young Thug responds to Pusha T for Dissing Drake on Pop Smoke Song pic.twitter.com/7KNMbiU535

— Kollege Kidd (@KollegeKidd) July 8, 2020

On “Paranoia,” the Virginia MC goes at Drake for making “empty threats,” and his tendency to rap in different accents.

“You know reality bites, it’s chess, not checkers,” raps Pusha. “Those empty threats only sound good on your records/If the patois is not followed by a Blocka/It’s like Marked for Death Screwface, without the choppa/Let ’em rush the stage when you made like Sinatra/Only to hide the blade flyin’ back through LaGuardia/I might even buy a home out in Mississauga [Canada].”

Pusha previously dissed Drake on 2018’s , “The Story of Adidon,” where he revealed to the world that the Toronto rapper had a son. Drake later admitted that he had a son on the track “Emotionless” off his Scorpion album.

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