by Native Instruments

Watch: How Strictly Rhythm
defined house music

The legendary New York record label Strictly Rhythm defines house music.

Built on pulsating electronic beats, house music was initially fueled by an underground club scene and a new generation of DJs playing driving tracks from small, independent labels. New York–based label Strictly Rhythm, founded in 1989, helped propel the popularity of house music through the 1990s.


Gladys Pizarro shaped the label’s sound. As VP of A&R, she signed producers and artists she knew would keep club crowds moving.

Pizarro’s musical intuition helped generate a continuous flow of club tracks plus a string of global crossover hits, including Reel 2 Real’s ‘I Like To Move It’, Planet Soul’s ‘Set You Free’, Logic’s ‘The Warning’, and Wink’s ‘Higher State Of Consciousness’.

Strictly Rhythm’s releases drew from the diverse musical culture of the New York City area. Producers mixed in Latin grooves, reggae sounds, gospel vocals, atmospheric textures, and even touches of psychedelia.

Club tracks took crowds on a journey. Starting with an extended intro that DJs could mix in, the tracks often had a breakdown for crowd participation and then built back up to an ecstatic climax. “It’s definitely a ride”, says Pizarro.

A new sample pack series draws from classic, in-demand house tracks from the legendary label. Strictly Rhythm One-Shots Volumes 1 and 2 include 64 samples from artists Reel 2 Real, Black Magic, Tristan Garner, Dennis Ferrer, Afro-Cube, Armand Van Helden, Ultra Naté, and more.

Watch Pizarro trace the history of the label and explain why Strictly Rhythm’s releases continue to be some of the most highly sought-after electronic tracks for sampling.

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