Thirty years down the line, it's easy to forget that hip-hop began with DJs stringing the funkiest disco breaks head to tail. But more recently, as evidenced by the creative direction taken by artists like [artist id="503162"]Timbaland[/artist] and [artist id="1230523"]Kanye West[/artist], hip-hop seems to be reconnecting with its disco roots.
The prime example of the moment is Duck Sauce, the collaboration between hip-hop mainstay DJ A-Trak and electro-house DJ/producer [artist id="1932120"]Armand Van Helden[/artist] on [artist id="330"]A-Trak's[/artist] Fool's Gold label.
"I had met [A-Trak] through P-Thugg from Chromeo," Van Helden said. "He goes, 'Oh yeah, you gotta meet this guy A-Trak,' and I'm like, 'I've heard of him.' ... When we met, he was just up on the music. ... I was just like, 'Wow, one day we've gotta do something together.' "
Last year saw the first Duck Sauce release, a two-track EP called Greatest Hits, containing the triumphant "aNYway," a discofied house builder with old-school charm, guaranteed to get hands in the air.
But the most obvious question remains: Why call it "Duck Sauce"?
"We had a couple of names in the running," A-Trak said. "And it was a funny thing, because duck sauce itself was something I used to always make jokes about myself, like, 'What is duck sauce? Is it made out of duck? Is it for duck?' ... And then my art director, Dust Larock, who does all my artwork, also came up with the name, and I was like, 'Man, that's perfect. I love Duck Sauce!' "
After consulting Van Helden, A-Trak still had to run it by a friend. "A lot of times I consult Kanye on names, and he gave me the blessing, and I ran with it."
The fusion of hip-hop and more club-oriented dance music is only the tip of the iceberg. "Right now, most rappers, if they're still hustlers and they're trying to be smart, they want to turn in a club banger but in the dance style, not hip-hop beats, not 118 bpm, 130, like the real thing," Van Helden said. "They want the real deal now. ... When you give them a track, they'll be like, 'That's fast,' but they'll figure out how to spit on it."