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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

A deep dive into Jersey club music

The popular EDM/hip-hop subgenre has taken TikTok by storm.

Lil Uzi Vert is pictured. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

It’s Friday night, and you find yourself at a party in a dimly lit basement with countless bodies pressed together. The temperature rises so much that it becomes unbearable to stay in the room until you hear the word “DAMNNNNNNN” start to play over the speakers. Everyone starts to jump around and push each other as the Lil Uzi Vert song “Just Wanna Rock” continues to echo. One or two people emerge from the crowd and start dancing in the circle, incorporating the iconic “buh buh buh” into their moves as the whole room cheers. Vert’s song is an example of Jersey club music, a fast-growing genre that combines EDM and hip-hop. Jersey club remixes have taken social media by storm, particularly on TikTok, where they have become a viral sensation.

Let’s take it back to Newark, N.J. in 1999, where local DJ Tameil, also known as Tameil Paynes, was influenced by both the hip-hop and EDM music of his hometown and the sounds of Baltimore club music. Pioneer DJ Tim Dolla also helped to create the Jersey Club music scene. Dolla was a part of the Brick Bandits, a group of producers and DJs who would release Jersey Club music, until his death in late 2023. He helped blend sounds that shaped Black music, and the innovative approach of the Brick Bandits began a global trend. Along with the sounds came a multitude of dances with elements of hip-hop, voguing and dancehall. Neighboring cities like New York City and Philadelphia started to participate in the early 2000s, especially on college campuses in the northern areas of the U.S. During this time, the Internet and social media platforms like MySpace were on the rise and became a space for artists or listeners to share and discover new music like Jersey club remixes. It wasn’t until the 2020s that the genre went global and started shaping this generation culturally.

Social media was at its peak in 2020, as many people across the world found themselves stuck at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social media was our only way of staying up to date with connection, communication and entertainment. During this time, influencers such as Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae gained massive followings for dancing to songs on TikTok. During this time, Cookie Kawaii released “Vibe (If I Back It Up).” If the name doesn’t ring a bell, the chorus might: “If I back it up, is it fat enough? / Baby, when I throw it back, is it fast enough? / If I speed it up, can you handle that? / You ain't ready for this work / Now watch me throw it, throw it back.” Not only was the song used in more than two million videos on TikTok by August 2020, but it has over 116 million streams on Spotify. The song has it all: chopped vocal samples, pulsing drums, and the “Some Cut” bed squeak (a specific sample commonly used in Jersey remixes) that contribute to its catchy and energetic feel. Even today, it’s making a resurgence with new dance moves, displaying its adaptability from four years ago. Vert released the two-minute song “Just Wanna Rock,” just two years later, in October 2022, along with a music video featuring prominent influencers Kai Cenat, Fanum, 2Rare and Drew Jeeezy, who not only made the song go viral but the dance moves as well. At any party, this is the song that gets the crowd hyped; it blew up all over social media, with over 500 million views on TikTok. Both songs served as a catalyst for the new trend that’s beginning to unfold.

Users on TikTok experiment and blend Jersey remixes in order to use the most popular dance moves for any music; between pop, R&B and hip-hop, there are no limits to reinterpretation.

Some of the most viral sounds include:

It doesn’t just end with music. Jersey club remixes also take inspiration from popular games, such as an avatar dying in Roblox, Fortnite music, FitnessGram Pacer, the Subway Surfers game music or even Drake saying “Anita Max Wynn.”

As Jersey club music continues to gain recognition and evolve, it's essential to honor and recognize the Black artists and creators whose innovation is integral to the genre’s development and success. The cultural influence of Black artists on the genre, from its dance styles to its musical beats, underscores the importance of highlighting and celebrating Black legacy.