2011’s Bangs & Works, Vol. 2: The Best Of Chicago Footwork was a remarkable compilation of tracks from a Chicago dance and music scene that had already been thriving for years. But that compilation was the first many outside of Chicago had heard of the nationally burgeoning footwork scene. Now, one of the scene’s heads, DJ Rashad, has just released his debut album on Hyperdub, the label home to a sub-genre-transcending electronic classic (Burial’s Untrue) as well as other diverse strands of electronic music or electronic-laden music (like King Midas Sound, L.V., Jessy Lanza, and Laurel Halo).
While DJ Rashad’s Double Cub certainly had the potential to be something truly innovative and genre-transcending, its overwhelming, fast sound simply functions as a continuation of the overall maximal trend in current electronic music. Double Cup might become the unintentional mainstream beacon for a scene, even if it doesn’t do for footwork what TNGHT’s debut EP and Rustie’s Glass Swords and BBC Essential Mix did for maximalist hip hop beat music. But Double Cup is worthwhile, even if it could have been so much more.
To start, it’s certainly a shame that some of DJ Rashad’s best early singles didn’t make it on to Double Cup. Tracks like the Rick Ross-sampling banger Can’t Hold Me Back and the amazingly crafted Let It Go helped him breakout and rise above the rest. But on Double Cup, you are still treated to what might be DJ Rashad’s best track yet, the ominous, yet gleeful I Don’t Give a Fuck – a hi hat-concentrated mixture of techno, trap, and drum n’ bass all built around samples of Tupac Shakur in 1992’s Juice. The track is as dangerous as it is captivating, and it’s like nothing else on Double Cup. And that’s because much of the album puts forward a cleaner, tighter, roomier version of footwork. From the horn-featuring Flying Lotus-esque opening track Feelin to Reggie, a paranoid-sounding, dark song about weed, DJ Rashad’s production is immaculate. As such, it doesn’t resemble the simultaneous hectic and controlled nature of original footwork.
In fact, the track that most strays from Midwestern footwork is Acid Bit, a collaboration with UK producer Addison Groove that takes footwork’s hi-hats and wrongfully combines it with dubby festival EDM and a Rollin & Scratchin-type glitch breakdown. The track unfortunately sounds like two producers from different regions simply attempting to make a hit and not combining the sounds of different regions for artistic purposes. Which is the biggest shame about Double Cup: DJ Rashad tries to make an already danceable subgenre of electronic music more accessible, and ultimately ends up creating something less invigorating than what’s come before it.
And perhaps the biggest reason why Double Cup isn’t as interesting as it should be is its length. TNGHT’s incredible five-track EP from last year was so effective – it was homogeneous because it was so short. But even when you at last get to the penultimate track of Double Cup, the great, sexy, sputtering Let U No, the track doesn’t hit as hard as it should. It’s not that footwork isn’t suited for an LP, but perhaps the 2011 footwork compilation was so effective because it was an amalgam of different DJs, each of whom brought their own take on the sub-genre. DJ Rashad, on the other hand, indulges in his own tastes and viewpoints, ultimately creating an album’s worth of songs that are exciting on their own but exhausting and at times dull when listened to from start to finish.