"Sounds, that's what the speakers are for."New sounds are hard to come by these days. This may be no bad thing, but to find something removed from the quotidian it's usually easier to relocate your search to another time or another place. The Chicago juke scene, which evolved out of house music around the same time Detroit house was calcifying into techno, is one such pocket of valuable innovation that seems to have captured the imaginations of like-minded UK producers and labels. Addison Groove's "Footcrab" came out a few years ago now, but more recently Kode9 of Hyperdub released a new EP from footwork mainstay DJ Rashad (as well as giving it a go himself), and Mike Paradinas has also been getting in on giving veterans of the scene their share of the spotlight by releasing old and new material on his Planet Mu label, most notably a new Traxman album Da Mind Of Traxman, and now RP Boo, arguably the originator of the style, finally gets his just reward with his debut LP Legacy.
FACT mix 384 - RP Boo (May '13)
RP Boo, real name Kavain Space, has never let a sense of the new and uninhabited cast his music away from any form of tradition. An initial listen of the aptly-titled Legacy, compiled from material worked on over the last decade, strikes the listener with a plethora of recognisable samples layered over each other in jarring, unpredictable ways; from classic Timbaland productions to Full Metal Jacket interjections to kaiju movie soundtracks (Space was the original producer for the famous "Godzilla" track). Some of the catchiest and most fitting vocal snippets come from Space himself, a habit which began from the frustration of having no other vocalists to work with. These elements may suggest Legacy to be an uneven, cacophonous listen, but in fact they lend themselves well to the album's character, which is often funny or playful. Its flow is surprisingly steady and uniform, owing mainly to footwork's constant 140BPM tempo but also the clear strength of the material here. Not one track rests on the sixteenth-note placement of hi-hats but instead a variety of ever-shifting drum patterns are offered; the soulful swing of "What'cha-Gonna Du" and mechanical stomp of "Robotbutizm" being two outlying examples.
Listening to Legacy, stuck somewhere between a conventional album and a "greatest hits" compilation of RP Boo's celebrated productions, makes me wonder how a form of music initially developed as a pure club experience, and later reappropriated for Chicago's local extreme dance competitions, has lent itself quite so wonderfully simply into the album format for the commercial market for the small country across the Atlantic, especially when it had no sights on ever leaving its niche scene. Of course the internet has played a huge part in diminishing the size of the globe, and seeing the juke/footwork sound from the north of the USA coming into fashion at the same time as trap-flavoured hip hop from the south (admittedly on a much smaller scale), I wouldn't be surprised if new producers took inspiration from these sounds. Perhaps this is the other role of Legacy: although it could be heard as signalling an ending to footwork's sheltered position and anonymity, it could also be a beginning.
Click to order RP Boo - Legacy on Planet Mu