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AFRAM kicks off with city's first ever Baltimore Club Music Day

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Posted at 11:55 AM, Jun 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-16 12:07:14-04

BALTIMORE — The AFRAM music festival is kicking off with something new this year. Saturday, June 17, will mark the city's first ever Baltimore Club Music Day.

It's to celebrate the impact of the up-tempo sound that many identify as Baltimore's own stamp on Hip-Hop culture.

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Baltimore Club Music pioneer and co-founder of Unruly Records, Shawn "Ceez" Caesar and Scottie Rice a.k.a "DJ Scottie B," remember the days before the music genre even had a name.

"We didn’t even really call it Baltimore Club or really separate it from other stuff at the beginning," Rice said.

"We were having fun creating music and that’s what it was all about," Caesar said. "Getting that creativity off."

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Caesar describes the sound as "gritty" and to echo the famous song by legendary Baltimore Club DJ, Rod Lee, it was a way of "dancing your pain away."

"I think it’s a raw energy," he said. "It’s nothing rehearsed. It’s nothing else there but the raw energy that comes from real Baltimore."

Even though Baltimore Club Music Day is becoming an official city celebration for the first time, more than three decades after its origin, the recent spotlight from the dance scene has given the music some new momentum.

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"This is Baltimore’s sound, so to have your city kind of acknowledge it and bring us to the forefront, it feels good," Caesar said. "We just really love that sound, we love the uptempo, we love to dance. We come from a dance era, which I think is happening again now."

Caesar is referring to the evolution of Baltimore Club Music with the help of some new faces. Dance crews like the TSU Dance Crew and Bmore Than Dance along with popular dancers like Brandon "McLovin" Dawson and Monae "Queen Stylzz" Maiden.

Social media has opened up a new window for eyes and ears all over the world.

Daniel Woodis Jr. a.k.a DJ Class, is also grateful to have watched the support for the genre grow.

"It’s coming full circle now where you got some of the biggest artists recording to that sound, I mean it’s just a blessing."

Grant "DJ Booman" Burley III said he likes where the new school artists are taking the movement.

"I love it because it’s like we laid down the foundation and these kids now," Brent said. "They pushed the speed up a little bit, the BPMs up a little bit and made it faster. We made it ours and they’re making it theirs so I love it. I love what they’re doing. It’s still going and I want to see where it’s going from here."

"In the 90s it was like probably 120 to 125 beats per minute," Caesar recalled. "Now it’s like 140 to 150 and they’re keeping their legs up with it so God bless them."

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"It just kind of proves its validity over time," Rice said. "It was good then, and it’s good now and [this] is a place for it. I'm glad it’s ours.”

However, to make sure their stamp on the sound's origin lives on, they collaborated on an album called Anthology; a collage of Baltimore Club hits from the early 90s.

They all reacted to being a part of Baltimore's first official celebration of the sound they've dedicated their lives to.

"Think about how heavy this is," Woods said. "It’s actually a genre. It’s a real genre and most people don’t get a chance to make their own genre of music and really mean that. We built that."

"I think it proves that the DJ still matters, because it’s DJ driven music," Rice said.

However, what they may be looking forward to even more, is celebrating fond memories with some familiar faces and of course what motivates all DJs; seeing the people dance.

The inaugural Baltimore Club Music Day will starts at noon at Druid Hill Park. It will be the opening celebration to the 46th AFRAM.

There will also be performances by The Isley Brothers, Ty Dolla $ign, Tamar Braxton, Eric Bellinger and more.

RELATED: AFRAM lineup announced, Ty Dolla $ign and the Isley Brothers set to headline

You can find more details on the weekend's events at AFRAMBALTIMORE.COM