When discussing the term “longevity” as it relates to house music, one must certainly give big credit to Boston native Armand van Helden. Since 1993, AVH has been at the forefront of house music and created a signature sound that can veer from uplifting and melodic to dark, tribal and downright evil. His early productions had a darker, tribal edge to them as was the case with his breakout hit “Witch Doktor“, which remains a great track to this day and showed me that even the more underground side of house could work with commercial audiences when done properly. His remixography could fill an encyclopedia and these days it’s more of a question of “who hasn’t he remixed???” He created such enduring club classics as “The Funk Phenomena“, “My My My” and “Hear My Name” and a plethora of full-length albums to accompany them. In 1998, however, he gave us what may well be his most enjoyable release.
1998 was the year of disco-house. Daft Punk, Stardust, Phats & Small and a host of others scored serious hits using filtered loops, house beats and occasionally a guest vocalist singing over top. When Mr. van Helden release his 2Future4U EP as a teaser to the full-length album that would drop a few months later, the crossover hit “U Don’t Know Me” featuring Duane Harden definitely fell into this category and once DJs found out that this 2xLP with the somewhat bizarre-looking cover was the place to find it, the EP was quickly snapped up in favour of waiting for a 12″ single release.
Upon arriving home and listening to the 5 tracks, it soon became evident that this was a very unique release. Instead of copying the U Don’t Know Me formula over again, people discovered that not only was every track on the EP amazing, but quite varied as well. Let’s take a quick track-by-track look at what goodies lay hidden on this gem:
1. Mother Earth feat. Tekitha from Wu-Tang Clan
Moody, brooding and featuring frequent Wu-Tang collaborator Tekitha, this is a great opener and clocking in a nearly 10 minutes, it’s downright hypnotizing if heard in its entirety.
2. Psychic Bounty Killerz Pt. 2 feat. DJ Sneak
Opening with a cheesy pizzicato riff, a direct slag at Sash!, Faithless and others who were profiting off tracks like this at the time, it’s soon cut off with a hail of gunshots before descending into madness. Any track featuring the talents of both Sneak and AVH is sure to please, this one delightfully sampling “You Stepped Into My Life” – Melba Moore and “Freelance” – Grandmaster Flash (the lyric is “disco dream on the mean machine”), and featuring scratches and stutter samples galore, I have seen this one shred many a dancefloor.
3. U Don’t Know Me feat. Duane Harden
This was the track that sucked everyone in. When van Helden left Harden alone in the studio to write a song over the loop he had created using the now instantly recognizable string from “Dance With You” – Carrie Lucas and the drums from the legendary “Plastic Dreams” – Jaydee while he took a nap, I don’t think he could have predicted what the end result would be: vocal disco house at its finest and endearing enough to be pulled out to this day.
4. Entra Mi Casa feat. Mita
Dirty, sexy, latin-tribal house with vocalist Mita moaning some allegedly very explicit lyrics in Spanish over top. Drop this in a club and expect to see steam rising from the dancefloor.
5. Necessary Evil
There are a few WTF moments on this EP, but none so more than when the needle hit the last track: a saw??? Yup, a saw sampled from “Keep Your Eye On Me” drives this stomper complete with preacher vocals coming in about halfway through. You might not initially think so, but this is a club-rocker.
The EP served as a fine introduction to the full-length album which would include further hits “Flowerz” and “The Boogie Monster“. This one still stands out well on its own and is a must-have for any house DJ.