Green Velvet's 10 Best Tracks
Mar 9, 2022
7 min read
Curtis Jones has adopted many aliases over the years. Also known as Cajmere, Green Velvet is the force behind the seminal labels Cajual and Relief. And while his illustrious history stretches back to the '90s, he continues to slap legendary dance floor bangers today.
The history of this dance music icon is extensive. He first fell in love with house music's energetic culture and lifestyle while studying chemical engineering at the University of Illinois. He decided to change his path in 1991, midway through a graduate school program. He dropped out of school to pursue his dreams as a producer. When he discovered how hard it was to sign records to labels, he created Relief Records.
Green Velvet's unique sound is signature for blending 80s electronic funk, crafting soundscapes that take you on an electronic voyage over lyrical terrains. His records always harbor maximum dancefloor influence while showcasing his legendary prestige.
The early releases vaulted the eclectic Jones to an echelon of utmost praise and worldwide distinction. Moreover, his early triumphs shifted the spotlight of global dance music back to Chicago, forming a sound considered a contemporary staple of the iconic city.
Outside of his pieces, both Cajual and Relief helped nurture and present names like DJ Sneak, Boo Williams, and Mark Grant to the world. In the process, he ignited the third wave of Chicago house music.
Going on 30 years strong, Green Velvet is still a forceful figure in house and techno as an impressionist artist from the get-go. He is still steadily touring globally, regularly releasing heaters and delivering it all with signature tongue-in-cheek shenanigans.
His tunes stand the test of time with lyrics and rhythms that still slam on the dancefloor—dabbling with bass and flirting with minimal techno in his sets and productions. He displays versatility and a selective ear that have kept him current as he a creator and selector of that soulful, funky, distinctive imprint that Chicago house left on dance music (and on Green Velvet himself) back in the day.
Below we have thrown down the top 10 Green Velvet (and Cajmere) tracks, which are only the tip of the iceberg of this musical genius.
Catch Green Velvet and friends at La La Land Miami Beach on March 26 at the National Hotel in Miami Beach, Fl. Tickets are on sale now.
Cajmere, Green Velvet's alter ego, released this iconic track in 1992 during the second wave of Chicago House in the 1990s revival. This vocal-heavy tune embraces a minimal and raw sound with wild bleeps and an ever-catchy chant. He features himself on the vocals, repetitive drum patterns, and silly synth sounds. This track paved the way for free frame structure, not traditional in house music, and trail blazed the stricter sounds of ghetto house.
"Flash" has claimed its spot in history as one of the most recognizable and celebrated tracks ever to hit the airwaves, never ceasing to ignite a frenzy of insanity on the dance floor. Since its release, it has become a staple with its simple and pulsating synths. This song takes the cake for one of the greatest techno songs to come out of the 90s and notably even in the entirety of genre history as a whole, making light on the 'dark' counterculture of the rave scene where all the bad little kiddies do the bad little things.
A follow-up to 1997's hilariously classic tune "Answering Message," "Voicemail" saw the return of Green Velvet's signature fictional characters (some that we may know too well), Taniqua, LeShaun, and Tyrone, all chasing Green Velvet with their selfish agendas. With Patrick Topping teaming up on the beats, the original beats of "Answering Message" are replaced with a stylish thumping house groove, topped off with a bumping bassline.
"Preacher Man" features a long-spoken word sample of Clarence LaVaughn Franklin (Aretha Franklin's father!) overlaid on a driving, tweaking, peaking, and freaked-out acid groove. Still to this day, having the ability to make people go mental. With lyrics that better (cynically) extoll the pure debauchery and freedom that a nightclub can provide. In 2012 the 1993 classic was re-released with a turned-up jackin' factor but sounded fresh after 20 years.
"Bigger than Prince (Hot Since 82 Remix)"
"Bigger Than Prince" is a grower. With the tunes meaning "Walk around like you're bigger than Prince," presumably calling out artists with an inflated sense of self-worth. Musically, though, it's a clever pastiche of the Purple One. Full of mewling, minor-key synths, and drum machine hits, the funk groove is impressively simple, wily, and faintly ridiculous, which has always been Jones' sweet spot.
"La La Land"
The wonky classic 2001 single "La La Land" released on Relief repeats the "Flash" template with loopy—wild beats and a hook utilizing his signature vocals supplemented by Walter Phillips. Since its release, the chart-topping song epic lyrics were remixed multiple times and claimed multiple acclimates. The club sing-along masterpiece is simple and straightforward, touching on drug use (you know something about those little pills), which some of us know too well-- looking for the excitement of La La land and the afterparty at whatever rave we find ourselves.
"Shake & Pop"
This 2006 electronic track with supporting vocals by Walter Phillips is full of danceability and energy with its simple instrumental beat. This track strays away from the deeper tech-house side of Green Velvet's style, showcasing lighter, more pop-house notes. The hit has the same vocal gimmick and popping beat, just like any of his other tracks having the mastership to make your move.
"Satisfy (feat. Dajae) [Tiger Stripes & Pleasurekraft Remix]"
Tiger Stripes and Pleasurekraft revamp of Cajmere's "Satisfy" brings the original tune to new ranks of funky weirdness. The fire remix plays up the underlying tribal tones of the original mix and accentuates the bass. Moreover, Dajae's vocals in the remixed version are slightly distorted robotically, along with the reduplication of the eerie cooing sound. Nothing short of sexy dancefloor magic.
"Calm Under Pressure (feat. Maceo Plex)"
Teaming up with fellow heavyweight producer Maceo Plex for a new release on Cajual Records for the 2013 track "Calm Under Pressure." The collaboration may seem oddly suited as their styles are divergent. However, this track came out finessed and solid with an effortlessly definable Maceo Plex bassline and a certain polish and finesse more attributed to Cajmere's familiarity in the studio.
"Brighter Days (feat. Dajae) [Underground Goodies Remix]"
Another early Cajmere house tune with vocals by the queen Dajae is a straight-up anthem that has been the blueprint for a thousand house tunes since its release in 1992. Compiled of an essential bumpy 909, chopped up soulful vocal, finished off with a whole lot of cowbell, a quintessential Chicago house masterpiece inspiring shufflers and house steppers alike to destroy the dancefloor. This track is an oldie but goodie, done just right.