Read In Your Language

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Legendary Sigma Sound Studio

i dont think yall understand.

in the 70s, there was a style of music that people call disco. i think that the rotten term associated with disco has everything to do with rock fans who had to watch their music in decline in favor of this high energy alternative. make no mistake, what people call disco is said have started with HERE in Philadelphia and not with ABBA.

but as all you hip hoppers, the real bboys and bgirls understand, is that a lot of the classic "break beats", (which became the foundation for what we know as rap music and the multi billion dollar rap music industry that it is today), the majority of these beats, first played by the unspoken of and often overlooked legendary DJs like DJ Hollywood, Pete DJ Jones, Grandmaster Flowers (the original Grandmaster), The Plummer, Mboya in NY, and in Philadelphia DJ Toney B, and Disco Rat, were derived from what was known as DISCO records. even one of the first break beat compilations was known as "Super Disco Breaks".

these park jams, first held in Queens and later in the Bronx became the foundation for what we know as hip hop culture, as these 'jams' became the meeting ground where all the elements converged. the indisputable anthem of these parties, the one song you had to play at EVERY jam, as attested to by these DJs themselves, was a song called "Love Is The Message". That song, one of the cornerstone anthems that defined the early DJ culture in NY was made right here in Philadelphia on 12th St., near Race at Sigma Sound Studios in 1973, the same year as Kool Herc's first party in the Bronx.
in my opinion, the originator of what we call the 'club banger' is James Brown. but if James started it, Gamble and Huff were definitely heirs to the throne. and in the 70s, music in general was moved in temperature and speed by these 2 giants of music history. the 70s were defined by the soulful, inspired and expertly arranged and produced records made by Gamble and Huff. these 'disco' records are considered classics the world over and it is said that every 11 minutes something produced by these 2 is played somewhere in the world.

the only other producers from this era who have as much notoriety for making skillful and important records in this genre in this era is Nile Rogers and Bernard Edwards of Chic, the team that brought the world the equally important 2 genre defining record "Good Times". for those that cant draw the corollary for yourselves, let me offer this; if we say Nile Rogers was Doctor Dre, the Gamble and Huff were Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. in the 1970s, their own label, Philadelphia International was the PREMIER producers of soul music, eclipsing the legendary Motown Records in that regard. and for those of you from Jersey, (especially my homegirl Rell Rock) Leon Huff was born in Camden. these are YOUR people. this where this sound was CREATED. honor them.

the sound of those records was crafted at Sigma Sound Studios, where a range of artists from Aretha Franklin to ZZ Top recorded. there are over 200 platinum and gold records credited to this studio. Sigma had a sister studio in NY that Madonna recorder her first album. as an engineer myself, i can tell you, that the sound of the record absolutely affects the way that people process it. for most of you who probably produce music at home, u realize first hand the power of sound being done in the right way, probably from your inability to achieve that sound yourself. now imagine that multiplied by 2000, because of the expense and mechanical knowledge it took to make records in those days, that u fully begin to appreciate the amazing accomplishments of these hollowed grounds.

This place is as much of a musical institution as Motown's Hitsville Studio and should be preserved for the sake of the history that could inspire the next generation to have as much impact as those before us have made. even if we divorce Gamble and Huff from the equation, the studio is STILL an accomplished and capable recording studio with the platinum plaques to prove it. and if u care about the MUSIC that was recorded here (some of which im sure a LOT u have sampled), maybe you will too. no matter where you're from...


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