Following the proliferation of the drum machine, every American city developed a unique form of club music. As we plod through the second decade of generation throwback, we find a lot of these styles reentering the limelight, and these days, Juke is the subgenre of choice. The kids sweating and gyrating to the remix of the remix of the remix of “The Percolator” probably don’t realize that the original song sparked a musical revolution in Chicago, rapidly forming subgenres of booty house, ghetto house and kicking off rivalries with Baltimore, Detroit, and Atlanta.
The story of this once insular world is told through interviews and song clips in From Juke to Jack, an independent documentary chronicling the original rise of juke music. Filmmaker Sonali Aggarwal interviews a host of DJs who are endearingly wrapped up in the history and politics of the style they helped pioneer.
The charm of juke music lies in its simplicity, a quality forged in its heyday in the 80s and 90s before music production equipment became as advanced as it is today. The basic juke song is an 808 beat, extremely minimal auxiliary sounds, and an optional vocal sample, brief, often explicit, and repeated over and over again throughout the track. Signature phrases like, “It’s time for the percolator,” “There’s some hoes in this house,” and, “I’ll beat that bitch with a bat,” make hits in this genre.
See the entire film below.