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"I Just Want to Make People Fuck on the Dance Floor": Baltimore Club DJ James Nasty Isn't Playing "Games"

Nasty soundtracks mating rituals with Baltimore club, tropical and ambient sounds.

by Marcus K. Dowling
Sep 1 2015, 5:13pm

Baltimore-based club music producer James Nasty's latest single is Main Course Records-released "Games," an exotic, tropical-inspired club track that features a vocal loop from fellow Baltimore resident and MC Abdu Ali that simply states, "Games ain't my thing, I wanna fuck." (Evidently, Nasty lives up to his name.) The desire to engage in sexual behavior late into the evening has been Baltimore club's common theme for over two decades, and as he suggests in "Games," Nasty's primal take on the genre gives you what you came for. But if you keep listening, you're going to hear something else that just might blow your mind—instead of your wad.

"I'm looking for a balance between staying true to what I call the '410 Formula' for Baltimore club, and trying to take it in a more tropical and ambient direction. I don't want to make traditional club records with Lil Jon 'what' samples and gunshots," says Nasty about his unconventional take on the Baltimore club sound.

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As for who he looks to for inspiration, a surprising name entered the conversation: Gregor Salto, a Dutch don who mixes house with tropical and latin grooves. "Oh man! Everything that guy puts out makes me feel some kind of way," Nasty says. "I hear his records and I just want to play them in a huge field of people jumping around in like, a tribal trance."

Recent Nasty releases inspired by Salto's sound include non-traditional club records like 2014-released Enchufada Records Upper Cuts, Volume IV track "Good Perereca" which features a chopped and frenetic tropical melody which mixes alongside the "Think" break. There's T & A Records-released Calvert Street EP breakout hit "Fan Dem Off" as well, which is more dancehall-inspired and features booming organic drums in the bassline and toaster Elephant Man's chanting in the top-line, too.

Insofar as his tropical and ambient approach to Baltimore club, Nasty believes this left-field sound will actually fit into a broader range of sets. "I've found a lane I'm comfortable in. I've reached a point where I'm not eating ramen noodles every day. There are club OGs who are like, 'this isn't club music?!' However, I think my sound is accessible enough where when you play it in a set, nobody on the dance floor is going to say, 'oh, they're trying to fit in a random Baltimore club record."

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Still, Nasty is a Baltimore resident, and he stays true to the city's sound when he plays out at underground spaces and bars. "I have a few residencies, and I get my open format on and go all over the place. But people know that at some point between 12:30 AM and 1:30 AM, there's going to be a heavy dose of club music."

"I have a good balance of gigs where I play top 40, and gigs where I'm booked to play my originals," Nasty continues. "Basically, I'm a DJ for the people. I can play very hood rap one night, a hippie forest rave the next night, and yet manage to slip in Baltimore club whenever I'm booked."

Speaking of making naked forest ravers lost their minds, Nasty describes a recent show at the Big Dub Festival in Artemas, Pennsylvania: "It was a really interesting experience. I got to the campgrounds on the side of this huge mountain and I realized that I was in the woods, and decided that I wasn't going to wear shoes or a shirt while playing. My set felt like this huge, tribal mating ritual where barely-dressed people were dancing and making out with each other."

Bluntly, James Nasty places a statement as period at the end of the comment when he says, "I just wanna make people fuck on the dancefloor."

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