A number of years before DJ-Kicks was launched in 1996, Berlin record label !K7’s X-Mix series had already given an air of mainstream legitimacy to what was previously an underground phenomenon—the DJ mixtape. Those officially released collections contextualized dance and electronic music into a more digestible form for an audience who might not be inclined to buy 12-inch singles, or even spend a night out clubbing. But !K7’s DJ-Kicks presented something altogether new, blurring the line between artist album and DJ set. “When we started DJ-Kicks in the ’90s, there was no creative understanding that a DJ is an artist,” !K7 founder Horst Weidenmüller tells Apple Music. “I recognized that the art form needs a platform and the DJ needs to be centered.”Soon after the series' first releases—including key mixes from C.J. Bolland, Carl Craig, and Claude Young—DJ-Kicks didn't just become just a seal of approval for up-and-coming artists, but set the template for how club culture could also be consumed outside of the actual club. And over the next couple of decades, it would document the shifting sounds and ideas upon which electronic music is constantly innovating. “The power of dance music is that there are no limitations of what you can do,” says Weidenmüller. “Everything is possible.” Along with an original film celebrating DJ-Kicks’ origins and legacy, you can now experience the full breadth of the series—from exclusive classic mixes by Terranova and Vikter Duplaix to younger figures like Jayda G and Avalon Emerson who continue to lead the charge.

Drum & Bass/Breakbeat

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