Record Label: Get On Down
By the time the Jungle Brothers rapped about it in 1988, House Music had been bumping in NYC Clubs for years. Even though the genre would go on to become a global phenomenon, House music had humble beginnings in predominantly gay and black clubs in Chicago. Musically, House Music was inspired by the eclectic dance records played by DJs Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy at Clubs like “The Warehouse” and “Muzik Box”. With a growing club scene, labels like Trax Records and DJ International played a major role in the development of the genre. Founded in 1984, Trax was an important outlet for house music in its early days, releasing many classics including "No Way Back" by Adonis, Larry Heard's "Can You Feel It," and the first so-called house anthem in 1986, "Move Your Body" by Marshall Jefferson. This latter tune gave a massive boost to house music, extending recognition of the genre outside of Chicago.
Adonis recorded many innovative and influential dance tracks. Born and raised on the West Side of Chicago, Adonis was introduced to music at a young age. He played bass guitar with several jazz and funk bands and was eventually introduced to House music by Gary B. After listening to Jesse Saunders' "On and On"; Adonis felt the drive to make better-produced music than what he had heard and began recording.
Despite his formal training and lack of clubbing experience, Adonis made waves on the dancefloor when he recorded several of the best Chicago house singles of the 1980s, including "No Way Back," "Do It Properly" and "We're Rockin' Down the House." He was 19 years old when he made the dystopian classic "No Way Back," one of Chicago house music's most iconic tracks. "No Way Back" was a smash hit for the Trax label; according to some estimates, the single sold over 100,000 copies. The lyrics —"Release my soul / I've lost control / Too far gone / Ain't no way back" — seemed to perfectly encapsulate the feeling of being lost in music with no way out. Adonis' cold, minimalist vocal delivery — no ornamentation, or obvious emotion — made "No Way Back" sound effortlessly cool, and utterly terrifying. The stripped-down track, devoid of extraneous flourishes, still sounds ruthlessly modern.