It’s been an epic year for dance music producer David Guetta. The French DJ, who has been universally credited with introducing the current Euro-pop sound to the American masses, has virtually dominated the charts with a string of world-beating singles. But it’s been Guetta’s massive influence on the sound of hip-hop and R&B that has been most noteworthy and debated amongst fans and music critics. From his collaborations with the Nicki Minaj (on the Flo-Rida featured track “Where Them Girls At”), Black Eyed Peas (“I Gotta Feeling”), Kelly Rowland (“When Love Takes Over” and Akon (“Sexy Bitch”) to Kid Cudi (“Memories”) and Usher (“Without You”), Guetta has heard all the talk about how he has taken the soul and attitude out of R&B and hip-hop.
But Guetta doesn’t see it that way. “For me it’s about bringing soul into dance club music,” says the former house DJ, whose fifth studio album Nothing but the Beat recently dropped his newest single featuring Minaj—“Turn Me On.” “That was my original idea…to bring soul into electronica music. That’s what we did with Akon. That record (“Sexy Bitch”) was being played by the best house DJ’s and the best hip-hop DJ’s. And it was also on pop radio. So if you can make music that speaks to everyone I think that’s incredible. It’s a unique positive moment where everyone is coming together. I love it.”
As for those who balk at the idea of hip-hop MC’s rhyming over dance beats, Guetta says it’s all about evolution.
“Hip-hop has always been changing,” he says. “When you compare the Sugarhill Gang to Tupac, it’s so [night and day]. Obviously rappers used to rap to disco beats and then later they rapped to James Brown samples and then you had artists rapping to classic soul samples. Now you have rappers and R&B singers performing over electronica beats. That doesn’t mean you are not being true to who you are. To me it doesn’t matter what they are rapping or singing over. What matters are the lyrics you are expressing or the soul you are delivering. The sound is always going to evolve.”
Guetta figures to be a busy man in 2012. He was recently nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electronica Album.—Keith Murphy