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10 Greatest Frankie Knuckles Tracks

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10 Greatest Frankie Knuckles Tracks
10 Greatest Frankie Knuckles Tracks

Though he was born and raised in the Bronx, Frankie Knuckles (née Francis Nicholls) called the Windy City home. Known in dance music circles as the Godfather of House Music, the DJ/producer is credited with helping to popularize Chicago house in the wake of disco’s greatly exaggerated demise, paving the way for the genre’s domination of the pop charts in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Cutting his teeth alongside DJ Larry Levan in the ’70s, Knuckles spun regularly at the Warehouse in Chicago, went on to open his own club, the Power Plant, and remix hits by everyone from Michael Jackson to Inner City.

Michael Jackson: 1958 - 2009

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Michael Jackson: 1958 - 2009

Epic Records

Michael Jackson: 1958 - 2009

Upon hearing of Michael Jackson’s death yesterday, one of the first things that popped into my head was: “Have you seen my childhood?” I say that as naïvely and as free from cynicism as I can. At its best, pop music both clarifies and enriches receptive souls’ personal experience. And the touchtone moments in pop culture exist as a simple purification of every individual’s life experience. Speaking personally, the death of Michael Jackson will forever denote the moment I left my 20s behind; it comes literally days before I turn 30. It’s a perfect parallel, in a sense. The arbitrary acknowledgement of my wonder years’ passing will be forever intertwined with the death of the man who was never allowed a proper childhood, and who subsequently raged with all his creative might against the onset of adulthood. Jackson’s music still serves as a crucible for our various compromises and self-imposed psychological barriers. It sounds carefree, but it’s impossible to listen to without assessing its creator’s hidden torment. Even the smoothest, catchiest, most disco-tastic singles in MJ’s back catalog are a little obsessed. (Don’t stop ’til you get enough? Got me working day and night?) Which is my own tortured way of saying it sounded great then, and it sounds great now. In the mid-’80s, I always thought of Michael Jackson and Prince as a perfect yin and yang of pop and R&B, the former representing good and the latter evil—or close to it. In retrospect, both were never more compelling (and downright terrifying) than when they confounded that syllogism. (Prince’s “God” is as chillingly direct as Jackson’s “In the Closet” is hauntingly abstruse.) Time’s cruel joke: Now that I’m old enough to appreciate Jackson’s artistic persona on its deeper levels, I only want back the simplicity of his showmanship. I want back the days when it wasn’t the Eagles sitting atop the all-time list of best-selling albums. I want the Michael Jackson who somehow nailed flawless, effortless quadruple turns easing down the road in The Wiz while wearing size 37 scarecrow slippers. I want him back. Eric Henderson