A thrilling and tumultuous, behind-the-scenes account of house music in NYC.
The Beat, the Scene, the Sound follows DJ Disciple and his behind-the-scenes account of how DJs, promoters, fans, and others transformed house music from a DIY project into an international sensation—dive into the glitzy clubs, underground parties, and the diverse communities who made up the scene amidst the tumult of 1980s/90s-era NYC—between the fall of disco and the rise of EDM.
The book unearths many untold stories of the era. When house first rose to prominence in the 1980s, it brought people together—Palladium, Paradise Garage, Tunnel, Zanzibar, Studio 54, and other clubs were going strong. But as DJ Disciple established himself in the scene, he witnessed it shatter. During the crack-cocaine epidemic, he literally dodged bullets bringing his records to and from clubs at night. HIV/AIDS and homophobia threw up fear-based partitions. Then, mayors worked to close the clubs. House music was pushed underground and then abroad to the UK and Europe. Disciple and many other DJs sought to regain a footing in the United States, but that only became possible with the rise of commercialized EDM.
With dozens of interviews and historic photographs, The Beat, the Scene, the Sound shows what is possible when you bring people together and what can unravel when you split them apart.
DJ Disciple is a Black artist, DJ, radio host, producer, and community advocate and has toured the world over a forty-year career, playing venues such as Studio 54 in New York, Ministry of Sound in London, and Cream in Ibiza. His GRAMMY-nominated track “Caught Up” reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart in 2002 and was later featured in the Showtime series Queer as Folk. He won an ARIA music award for his remix of Steven Allkins’ “The Bass Has Got Me Movin.’” His website is http://djdisciple.net/ and he is based in Brooklyn, New York.
Henry Kronk is a freelance journalist who has covered a range of subjects over the course of his career. His non-fiction work has appeared in Exclaim!, the Burlington Free Press, International DJ, Vallum: Contemporary Poetry, and more. In 2018, he produced the investigative radio program and podcast Code Burst. He lives in Burlington, Vermont.
On and On
List of Interviews
About the Authors
At New York clubs during the 1980s and early 1990s, deep bass lines and sped-up drum beats from house music had parties jumping. David Banks, a.k.a. DJ Disciple, one of house music’s prominent figures, looks at the era and his career with the help of journalist Kronk to recount house music’s rise, decline, and rebirth. Disciple was a college-radio disc jockey playing gospel music when his friends introduced him to Chicago’s house music and the New York dance scene. Within a few years, Disciple went from deejaying college parties to playing the main stage at nightclubs. Eventually, NYC politics and changing music tastes took house music underground and overseas. Interviews with club promoters, music producers, and other disc jockeys round out this straightforward trip down memory lane.... Hardcore house music fanatics will enjoy this book’s discussions on various clubs, drum machines, and acetates. Give it to readers who fondly remember the genre.
DJ Disciple, with journalist Kronk, recounts his widely influential life as an artist, DJ, radio host, producer, and activist, focusing on his key role in house music’s many incarnations, while sharing dramatic behind-the-scene tales in New York City and worldwide in the 1980s and '90s. DJ Disciple, a man of faith, was forced to balance his beliefs with his zeal for making music as he performed in clubs and searched for as yet unreleased music to spin on his WNYE-FM radio show, The Best Kept Secret. As he relied on international gigs to keep house music alive while facing violence, drugs, and social adversity in the U.S., DJ Disciple stayed committed. “I still didn’t want to rest on my laurels. I thought maybe I could push things even farther as a DJ, and I was terrified that if I let up, I would give up before I had reached my potential.” DJ Disciple continues to live a life devoted to learning, understanding, creating, and collaborating with his fellow musicians in search of the next sound.
DJ Disciple is one of my long-standing friends in the industry who has stood the test of time, and he has consistently championed our music. I’m happy that he is sharing his story and proud to be a part of it.
I first heard of DJ Disciple when I got a cassette from a friend. All it said was “DJ Disciple” on it. That cassette became the cassette of my summer in 1990. We listened to it every day for three, four months straight. He was the first New York house DJ I really got into.
DJ Disciple is someone who’s been contributing to our scene for many years, seeing and doing it all from working the door to throwing the event itself. If anybody can speak on house music, he certainly can.
DJ Disciple’s intimate story of a life lifted to creative heights by music and faith also dares to be a crucial connector that challenges well-worn storylines and illuminates how the shared roots of hip-hop, house, and DJ culture bred in New York City keep the whole world dancing. The combination of Disciple’s extensive lived experience and meticulous research and interviews makes this an important book that’s hard to put down.
DJ Disciple has always brought soul love and vibes to his craft. His love affair with music has always remained strong
DJ Disciple is house music history. He was a staple, and I would listen to him religiously. He also paved the way for many female DJs with all-women shows.
What can I say? His smile says everything. Whenever we had the opportunity of sharing the music bill together, I felt I was on a team with a man that had a heart of gold.
DJ Disciple and Henry Kronk perfectly capture the golden era of house music. DJ Disciple’s story is a testament to hard work, dedication, and talent. He carved his way through the crazy music business and built a successful career. Enjoy the ride as I did—this is a must-have book.
My heart is racing a mile a minute from reading this book!
'Great read bro'. Thanks for including us.
DJ Disciple had the best FM radio show in NY in the early 90s. I would tune in as often as possible and always made sure that he was the first to get my latest tunes. I love his enthusiasm and energy, and I am always happy to hear his DJ sets.
The legendary DJ Disciple helped me out at the start of my career. We even produced a few tunes together that still sound great, and he helped get my name out there.
A sprawling debut of autobiographical journalism. This pre-EDM history of dance music offers readers an intimate look behind the DJ booth at the inner workings of the NYC club culture of the 90s to the present.
This book is an encyclopedic coverage of the street and the club scene all wrapped into one—the behind-the-scenes of what truly went on.
In The Beat, The Scene, The Sound, DJ Disciple has given us an invaluable tome that breaks down how his life, like house music, has had its ups and downs in a way only someone with his expertise and experience could. It’s an exciting trip down memory lane for me, as someone who was lucky enough to experience the music and the movement that was “house” in its heyday.
Through anecdotes, archival photographs and extensive research, the book details how the scene launched, how it almost died and how house music eventually roared back as electronic dance music moved into the mainstream in the 2000s. The cowriters balance passion for the history of a seminal American music scene with an exacting academic eye for detail.
As an in-depth account of the career of a professional house DJ, in the context of New York’s club scene and the growth of dance music culture from the 1990s now, The Beat, The Scene, The Sound is a strong addition to the growing canon of house music/ DJ/histories.
7/18/23, Newark Public Library: Video of the author’s library talk has been posted.
5/23/23, True House Stories podcast: House Music producer Lenny Fontana interviews DJ Disciple about his career and the book.