While critics have been quick to point to 2013 as the year of Pharrell, it’s just as easy to think of it as the year of Nile Rodgers. The pop music legend made his name with the ground-breaking group Chic back in the ’70s before going on to work with artists like Diana Ross, David Bowie, Madonna, Duran Duran and more, but this year he reclaimed his spot in the pop landscape through his work with Daft Punk on the French duo’s album Random Access Memories, particularly the mega-hit “Get Lucky.” In celebration of his musical legacy and his recent 61st birthday, the disco icon made his way to Williamsburg’s Output on Wednesday night for a career-spanning DJ set from Q-Tip as a part of his ongoing residency on Wednesday nights at the club.
In addition to being a legendary musician and producer in his own right, Rodgers wrote many of the songs that would serve as the primary documents for hip-hop’s earliest crate diggers, making Q-Tip an ideal host for the event. “Tonight we’re here to celebrate one of the biggest legends in music,” Q-Tip told the crowd early into his set. “We’re celebrating his life and legacy. We need you to feel his music This some party shit.”
The crowd obliged, dancing along to the club’s booming soundsystem as ’70s and ’80s classics played. With its raised DJ stage and its large balcony area, Output can resemble a nightclub from a Micheal Mann film at times—think Collateral—but the songs helped make the cavernous building feel a little more intimate, like a friendly neighborhood party.
Sporting a white hat over his long dreads and black sunglasses, Rodgers eventually joined Q-Tip in the booth, excitedly taking pictures of the dancing crowd as Q-Tip provided a distinctly old-school soundtrack. While he played some relatively contemporary tracks like Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body” and Biggie’s “Mo Money, Mo Problems,” which samples the Rodgers produced Diana Ross classic “I’m Coming Out,” Tip kept the the set focused on the type of epic, string-filled disco party-starters that Rodgers made his name with. Dropping Chic songs alongside standards like “Rapper’s Delight,” which samples Chic’s iconic “Good Times,” Tip showed the breadth of Rodgers’ musical legacy by playing records that drew from his impressive catalog of hits.
“He’s one of the cornerstones of hip-hop,” said Q-Tip at one point in the set. It was a true point, but also an unnecessary one to make: The soundtrack made a convincing enough argument for Rodgers’ immeasurable influence on rap music. As for Rodgers himself, well, he was just there for the good times:
— Nile Rodgers (@nilerodgers) September 26, 2013