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There’s a term DJs use when talking with each other that describes an experience all of them strive for but that isn’t always achieved. The term is “club banger,” or “club killer,” and while different DJ crews in different places around the world probably have their own variation on the wording, what the term describes is always the same: a song or record, often new but familiar, that is dropped at the right time during a set; a tune that taps into the immediate energy happening at a club or house party and then pushes it over the edge sending the dancefloor into a communal frenzy. It’s the perfect song at the right time, and if you’ve ever experienced it – on the floor or behind the decks – it’s a rapturous feeling...one that Blaqstarr knows all too well.
"Blaqstarr is a fixture in Baltimore. If you didn't know the evolution of the club sound in Baltimore, then turning on 92q on a weekday drive time and hearing "get my gun" or "feel it in the air" (on a commercial black radio station) might freak you the fuck out .. it comes out of nowhere, and Blaqstarrs sound has taken over the city... (especially if your under 20) check 'Rocking Off' or 'Spongebob' or 'Wu-tangin' on youtube... cause its about 600,000 videos that kids made to Blaqstarrs city wide anthems... wait til you see the EPk we just made at an all ages dance..............Anyway, this mix is mad weird, loud and scary, and still kinda pretty in parts; kinda like Baltimore."
Baltimore Club music is synonymous with the name Blaqstarr. There is no such thing as mentioning one without the other. At the age of 13, the Baltimore-born DJ, producer, and artist, Blaqstarr, began spinning records at local house parties. A little while later and bored with the same old records, he began to produce his own tracks to spin on the turntables. He produced his first “club banger,” when he was 16-years old, a local club track that he called “Tote It.” He compiled this track and a few others into a Bmore Club mixtape which soon circulated throughout the entire city. This grabbed the attention of the late local radio disk jockey, K-swift. Soon, his tracks were blasted on the radio everyday (a tradition that still remains) which captivated the city, having listeners constantly calling in and begging for more Blaqstarr tracks. In fact, before he was even 20 years old, Blaqstarr (real name Charles Smith) had produced over half-a-dozen original tracks that were the biggest tunes in Bmore and whether they were broadcast in his own sets at some eastside house party or spun on the radio at a neighborhood block jam, seemingly every tune Blaqstarr would put out has been a straight “club banger.”
Rapidly, his fast-paced dance tracks had spilled over into other cities via underground party scenes and the internet. Since 2003, some of Blaqstarr’s songs that found audiences beyond Baltimore include, “Rider Girl,” “Hands Up Thumbs Down,” and “Shake It To The Ground,” featuring the Baltimore vocalist/MC Rye Rye who he discovered, and all released on his own Starr Productions label.
In a short time, Diplo and M.I.A. came to Baltimore and sought out Blaqstarr for his mesmerizing, multi-genre DJ sets and his Bmore club, dance driven production tracks. From there, Blaqstarr took off as a professional DJ, touring around the world with Diplo/Major Lazer, M.I.A. and Steve Aoki. He has also DJ'd Coachella (main stage) with M.I.A., The Fader Fort Stage at SXSW, Ultra Music Festival, a few Hardfest festivals, Rock the Bells Tour, numerous Mad Decent Block Parties and not to mention a slew of nightclubs, parties, and events throughout Europe and the US. After establishing himself as a noteworthy DJ, Blaqstarr began producing tracks for the likes of Steve Aoki (Grammy nominated album Wonderland), and has produced/collaborated on tracks with Diplo (Get Off) and M.I.A. (albums Kala & Maya).
It’s that Midas touch of Blaqstarr’s that thrust him out of the typically provincial, claustrophobic world of B-more clubland and into the world at large. It’s why M.I.A. trusted (a then relatively unknown) Blaqstarr as a key collaborator for her wildly original album Kala and its hit single, “Paper Planes” and also with her Maya hit single, “XXXO”. And it’s why Blaqstarr found a home as part of Diplo’s Mad Decent family and got to take his music around the world. In fact, Blaqstarr jumpstarted Diplo's label, Mad Decent, as their first music release with his Supastarr EP.
What has helped propel Blaqstarr beyond the confines of Baltimore was a fierce desire to try out different ideas matched with a fearlessness and curiosity. The aforementioned signature tune “Tote It,” is an example. Instead of using standard drum sounds or a sampled break, the percussion of the fast-paced club banger was sampled gun-shots. It was something no one had thought of doing before, and perfectly symbolized that kind of sound of the city. “When I dropped that for the first time,” he says, “the party went wild.” More recently, “Tote it” has been sampled by Lil Wayne on his track “Told Ya'll” which further brought notarity to the dance track and to Blaqstarr's name. Another club track of Blaqstarr's, “Hands Up Thumbs Down” can also be found heavily sampled in M.I.A's “Worldtown”.
In just a short period of time, Blaqstarr’s seemingly effortless string of catchy, booming club tracks has made him one of the most anticipated and observed DJ's and beat-makers in the world. His original club music can still be heard around the globe in places such as Japan, Europe, Canada, etc. Blaqstarr has definitely earned his spot as a DJ legend, taking his once confined hometown sound and bringing it to the global frontier.