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DJ Rashad
Double Cup Andrew Spragg , December 12th, 2013 09:09

In an age of globalised electronic networks, it is somewhat reassuring that many genres of music retain a fierce loyalty to a regional or parochial pride. There’s something gloriously perverse about Skrillex giving a shout-out to Croydon at the 2012 Grammys (not least for the smattering of faint applause upon mention of that particular London suburb). It could be argued that this is partly because music tends to grow up within a community of club promoters, DJs and musicians, developing a form of grass-roots populism that lingers long after the music reaches widespread appeal. Footwork is one of those genres that you sense will accrue such a relationship in years to come. Emerging as an outgrowth of Chicago house music, the principle formula is one that combines bubbling 808s and low end with angular snare patterns and looped snatches of vocal samples. It can often prove a jarring prospect in the first instance, but DJ Rashad’s Double Cup is a coherent and appealing starting point for the curious.

Double Cup offers a series of exciting moments, all of which culminate to demonstrate just how talented a producer DJ Rashad has become. The title track provides a frenetic ping-pong of cheap synth lines, before falling into a hazy plateau of reverie aimed at encouraging the listener to both “break it down” and “roll it up”. In addition, DJ Rashad knows how to signpost a good legacy: ‘Let U Kno’ and ‘I’m Too Hi’ reference jungle explicitly through the clatter of up-tempo drum sequences, while the keys on ‘Leavin’ recall house at its peak. The blueprint is one that builds on a diverse set of influences from all over electronic music, from the swaggering assurances of hip hop (most visible on ‘She A Go’) to the urban collectivism of techno. Any listener with an ear towards contemporary electronic and dance music would be hard-pushed to find a song that didn’t appeal to one sensibility or another.

In recent years a number of compilations – including the essential Bangs & Works albums from Planet Mu Records – have served to highlight some of footwork’s prime cuts, while praise from Kode9, Panda Bear and others has all contributed to the growing interest in the genre. Double Cup could well be positioned as a breakthrough for DJ Rashad, indicated by the epic album opener ‘Feelin’ with its interweaving of pounded synth chords, brass samples and R&B vocal loop. The whole record feels comparatively lighter and more complex than some earlier footwork productions; elements flit and move in the mix, causing neat juxtapositions in both rhythmic and melodic terms. The effect is like watching the intricacies of a city’s transport network from a plane window at night, an image underlined by the choice of album cover. The high BPM and unrelenting low-end required of footwork productions has lent it a somewhat intimidating and claustrophobic feel in the past, but DJ Rashad has managed to engineer a fine balance that makes Double Cup highly listenable without giving up on any of the innovation of earlier work.

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