The Jersey Club music scene is mourning one of its own.
DJ Tim Dolla has died.
Dolla, born Timothy Foster, grew up in Newark, where he helped create and grow the sound in the early 2000s. He was 39.
His family posted an announcement for this funeral on social media Monday and did not share a cause of death. Fellow DJs and Producers first posted word of his death from him July 14.
Dolla, who also released music as Mista Foster, was part of the Jersey Club crew Brick Bandits.
Jersey Club, a genre known both for remixing popular hip-hop and R&B songs into dance sensations and producing thumping original music, can range from 128 beats per minute to 150 and faster.
In the beginning, producers and DJs in Newark, like Dolla’s fellow Jersey Club pioneer DJ Tameil, put their own regional stamp on Baltimore Club music. What started as Brick City Club eventually became Jersey Club as more of the music sprung from places outside Newark.
Dolla spoke to NJ Advance Media in October about watching the sound he helped build become a global hit, going from MySpace diss tracks and challenges among rival DJs and producers in Newark to TikTok dances, Drake albums and beyond.
One of Dolla’s biggest hits, stretching back to the 2000s, is the potent club banger “Swing Dat.” It wasn’t designed to go viral in the early days of YouTube, but that’s exactly what happened.
“It was a filler,” Dolla said of the lively track’s origins, which features vocal call-outs from DJ Lilman and a sample of an early Baltimore Club break. “We did it so you didn’t have to keep staying on the mic in a party.”
The song is now a Jersey Club classic that still gets people moving.
“It’s something organic that we were doing in the party,” said Dolla, who lived in North Plainfield and spent his formative years at Arts High School and Essex County College. “We just took it from doing it on the party element and put it on the record. So now you can have that same feel and that same reaction every time you play the record, wherever you go.
“It was just a piece of Newark on the track,” he said, laughing. “And it wasn’t even that long. It was just something that we did, and looped it twice and that’s it.”
“Hit it 2 the Beat,” Dolla’s collaboration with DJ Wallah, also made waves.
Video contains profanity
Mike V, one contributor of Dolla’s closest collaborators in the Brick Bandits, remembered Dolla on Instagram, paying tribute to a friend who always had a joke and whose positive influence had a ripple effect on those around him.
“He was (an) unstoppable force to be reckoned with, a pioneer who helped spearhead our Jersey Club movement,” he said. “Tim was an ambassador for the culture, teaching and mentoring many along his journey as a DJ/producer. He was an icon though he didn’t see himself as one. He was the people’s champ who many of times cheered much harder for you than he did for himself. His Tim’s goal was to make everyone around him better, I believe he accomplished that.”
DJ Tameil shared a photo with Dolla from their younger days.
Other stars of Jersey Club memorialized Dolla as someone who nurtured their talents and vowed to keep his spirit — and the music — alive.
The DJ and producer Nadus, aka Rahshon Bright, called him a superhero, mentor, big brother and sensei in an Instagram post — someone who always “left the door cracked open” for him. Dolla’s musical influence took him from Newark to gigs across the globe.
“For a better part of my teen years into my early 20s this man and his best friends let a bunch of us in to their safe space and made it OUR safe space,” Nadus said. “No matter where it all took any of us it never felt like a big enough of a thank you.”
“Every time I thought I was getting better, on your heels even you’d nudge the bar up a bit more,” he said. “I lived on your shoulder… Thank you for saving my life.”
Another creative force in Jersey Club, DJ Sliink, aka Stacey White, echoed Nadus’ sentiment.
“You saved my life, you saved a lot of people,” he said in an Instagram post, adding that he wouldn’t have a music career without Dolla’s example.
And the club pioneer was still always making music of his own.
In June, Dolla, as Mista Foster, released remixes of the song “Higher” from Nigerian singer Tems and the popular house music-inspired Beyoncé single “Break My Soul.” In 2020, he put out an album called “Unreleased.”
The Brick Bandits will gather for a celebration of Dolla’s life from 5 pm to midnight Wednesday, July 27 at Mister East, 2401 N. Wood Ave. in Roselle.
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Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at @AmyKup on Twitter.