On Nov. 15, the day of the 2023 Grammy nomination announcements, Chicago house music pioneer Terry Hunter’s cellphone rang endlessly. He received exactly 317 text messages, congratulating him for his second-ever Grammy nomination for Best Remixed Recording for “Break My Soul (Terry Hunter remix).”

While the 65th Grammy Award nominations were being announced virtually, Hunter instead was focused on listening out for renowned Chicago poet and rapper J. Ivy’s name to be called for his seventh studio album, The Poet at The Door, which would be nominated “Best Spoken Word Poetry Album.”

“I just didn’t think it would be up for consideration,” Hunter said about his “Break My Soul” remix. He added that neither he nor his team submitted the song for consideration.

“I was like, wait a minute. So Wayne heard, and he was like, ‘wait a minute. What did they just say?’” Hunter recalled. He found out about the nomination while on the phone with his friend and Chosen Few DJ Wayne Williams during the announcements. “It was nothing but pure excitement.”

Beyoncé received nine total nominations; eight of them for her groundbreaking dance album Renaissance, including Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year.

Not only are the nominations a big deal for Beyoncé, who also makes history as the first Black female artist to be nominated for Best Dance Album, it’s also monumental for Chicago as this puts its homegrown genre on one of the biggest music stages. Simultaneously, it also elevates house and R&B legends through sampling and production credits; including Honey Dijon, Tricky Stewart, Larry Heard (a.k.a Mr. Fingers), and Green Velvet (a.k.a. Cajmere); all of whom have roots in the Chicago area.

As happy as Hunter was when The TRiiBE spoke to him during a phone interview on a cold Nov. 16, he remained tightlipped when asked if Beyoncé called to congratulate him.

However, the esteemed Chosen Few DJs member commended Beyoncé and her company, Parkwood Entertainment, for “running a tight ship,” as he described it.

“I haven’t seen a ship ran that tight from any artist. I can say that,” Hunter said. He’s worked with the likes of Michael Jackson, Kanye West, Chaka Khan, Byron Stingily of Ten City, Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson, and many more of the biggest icons in music.

“It was classified. It was all of that. And some people will take that as ‘you doing too much.’ Nah, not at all. They run a tight ship. And she commands respect. She is not letting anybody loosely say anything about her name,” Hunter explained.


Fans may recall the social commentary around Renaissance’s release. Despite the near-unanimous critical acclaim and debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with all 16 songs landing across the Billboard Hot 100, the album was met with near-sabotage and scrutiny from many directions

It began with the album reportedly being leaked online (which, in a rare moment, fans condemned). Then it was followed by singer-songwriter Kelis calling out Beyoncé and the Neptunes for allegedly not reaching out for permission to use an interpolation of her 2003 hit, “Milkshake” on Renaissance’s fifth track, “Energy.” Sydney-based disability advocate Hannah Diviney also called out Beyoncé for saying “spaz” on the album, which is considered to be an ableist slur. 

“If you look at all the back and forth that was going on with the album, how it came up and went away? Her team is mean. Everybody is in sync,” Hunter added.

Hunter’s been in the game for nearly 40 years as a pioneering DJ of house music. After releasing his 1990 debut record, “Madness,” he went on to become one of the most sought-after DJs in Chicago and around the world with underground staples like “Dana & Tracy,” “Sweet Music” and “I Ya Ya/Monster Rhythm.” 

While working on Renaissance with Beyoncé, legendary engineer Guru suggested that Hunter do the remix to its lead single. It also helped that both Hunter and Beyonce’s respective managers knew each other. Hunter worked on Jennifer Hudson’s 2014 track featuring R. Kelly, “It’s Your World,” which ironically lost to Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love” featuring Jay Z at the 2015 Grammys; and now Hudson’s former manager is Beyoncé’s manager, according to Hunter. 

Beyoncé and Parkway Entertainment gave Hunter full creative reign over the remix.

“‘Do you.’ Those were their exact words, ‘do you,’” Hunter said. “And as soon as I got the stems from them, I finished the remix that night. I went in. It just came to me and I sent it to them — the rough demo of where I was going. And basically, the demo was finished, I just had to mix it. They loved it and we’re here now,” he said.

Hunter debuted his “Break My Soul” remix on July 2 at the 2022 Chosen Few Picnic & House Music Festival, one of the most integral staples of house music. For him, there wasn’t any other place or time to break the track than at Jackson Park amid approximately 40,000 house fans, and Guru wholeheartedly agreed.

“He knew exactly what the picnic was and [Guru] was like, ‘yes, do your thing,’” Hunter said. “It just went absolutely nuts.”

Rolling Out was the first media outlet to post the video of Hunter premiering his “Break My Soul” remix at the house picnic. Afterward, Hunter was quickly met with love from house heads from across the world. The video has since been shared over 9,000 times. And this was all before Beyoncé officially released her Break My Soul Remixes package — including Hunter’s version — on July 26. Renaissance dropped on July 29.

Although this isn’t Hunter’s first Grammy nod, it’s one that uplifts the continued importance and legacy of Chicago house music, along with its impact on hip-hop and R&B.

Prior to Beyoncé’s Renaissance, rapper Drake worked with international DJ-producer and songwriter Black Coffee —  the first African DJ and producer to win a Grammy in 2022 for Best Dance/Electronic Album —  for his album, Honestly, Nevermind. Other artists such as Frank Ocean and Lizzo have been making dance records themselves. 

Even in the gaming community, several house and juke classics appear on multiple radio stations in the fictional San Andreas setting of “Grand Theft Auto Online.” Ten City’s “Devotion,” DJ Slugo’s “418,” DJ Spinn’s “Bounce and Break Yo Back,” and three Hunter-produced tracks can be heard across several radio stations in the virtual world.

Despite house music maintaining a massive following that extends well beyond Chicago, the one place where it seemingly hasn’t maintained relevance is Black Chicago radio; specifically Black stations such as 107.5 WGCI, Power 92, Soul 106.3 and V103. In recent years, many of Chicago’s homegrown radio personalities, who regularly included house and juke tracks in their mixes, such as Mike Love and the Dizz, and DJ Moondawg, to name a few, were let go from local stations. 

Now, since iHeartMedia has dominated many local radio stations in every major market under one nationwide umbrella, Hunter said that the program and marketing directors in charge either are culturally disconnected from Black music native to a given city or, if they do decide to go against the usual grain dictated by streaming, TikTok and Billboard charts, they are quickly reprimanded by their corporate superiors.

Some alternative stations, such as Vocalo Radio 91.1FM, and some local college stations, still play house and juke tracks; however, they may not have as wide of an audience reach as some of the aforementioned Chicago stations.

Although Hunter boldly declared that, “dance music and house music is the next wave of R&B,” he also said Chicago radio does not support house music. 

“[New York] very much still supports hip hop; in the clubs, on the radio. They run it in with the new music,” Hunter said about the genre which originated in Bronx, NY in the late 1970s.

“Chicago, I understand it, but I don’t understand — and I put me in it — how we have let that happen,” Hunter said about Chicago radio not playing house. “There’s no way that you should not hear house music in every rotation in the city. Period. We do Chosen Few festivals every year and we get up with 30,000 to 40,000 people. What hip-hop concert has drawn 30,000 to 40,000 people at a show every year consistently? [WGCI’s] Big Jam don’t get those numbers. V103’s events don’t get those numbers.”

Asked if he believes that his Grammy nomination will elevate the genre to mainstream radio rotation in Chicago, he mentioned the long list of Chicago and international house music DJs and producers who either won or was nominated for the award before him. Frankie Knuckles, Louie Vega, Maurice Joshua, and Black Coffee have each won a Grammy. Ten City and Steve “Silk” Hurley have each been nominated for one.

“This is a different time. This is a different energy. And I’m not going to never say no. But I think that there’s a strong possibility to start the steps in the right direction to make that happen,” he said. “We’ve been here. We ain’t gone, We know what it is. But guess what? The world knows too.”

Hunter is currently working on his new album, Imagine No Music, to be released around Valentine’s Day 2023 with its lead single “Self-Love” featuring Estelle, Chantay Savage and J. Ivy.

Even if Hunter loses at the 2023 Grammys, he won’t let it break his soul as he believes that this moment is the beginning of something huge for house music.

“Win, lose, draw, it’s a win. It’s a win for house music. It’s a win for myself, being a part of that history because again, I’ve been nominated before, but it’s just something about this particular time. It hits different,” Hunter said.

is a freelance writer for The TRiiBE.