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DJ Taye
Still Trippin’ Anthony Henderson , July 4th, 2018 12:37

Footwork, with hits

“With this [album] I wanna actually try to make some hits,” said DJ Taye recently. “Some hit songs that can actually work as, ‘This is a footwork song, but this is a hit.’” Taye’s referring to the distance the footwork aesthetic might have to your average hit - and while he’s criminally underplayed on Spotify, Still Trippin’ makes a hell of an argument for why our evening pool parties should be adorned with mean, jittery beats.

I could say that the occasionally referential rap flows of ‘Smokeout’ could fit nicely in any young trap rapper’s hit, its accompaniment of juke riffing causing the genre to sound completely essential for any hip-hop vibe-drinker’s playlist, and be done with it. But to define this project as simply a bid for crossover success would be reductive. Taye does make those worthy footwork hits (underappreciated as they may be), but this is a singular project that tends to suggest a tantalising career, injecting a relatively cold and hard style with a decidedly youthful perspective.

‘2049’ gives us our first taste of a signature synth-based tone poetry, and with many blistering moments evoking the dank dancefloor, these elements offer some tender and pensive flavours. A good example is ‘Same Sound’, which gets some help from Odile Myrtil’s insular soul. ‘Need It’, is a special moment, where a vocal interchange rejects juke’s assured sexuality, trading that in for a puberty-stricken “giveittome” (x100). This track, a highlight, also experiments with a concoction of brain-flossing bass and raw jungle knots.

A playfulness permeates the project, and this can inform the structure of tracks without really missing a step. The beats on ‘Same Sound’ really just seem like high-quality riffing and could totally go ignored on the first few listens. And while he represents the Teklife crew and sonically shouts out the late great DJ Rashad, Taye seems more concerned with change than legacy. ‘Anotha4’, another highlight, pairs some particularly raw, banging juke with washed-out surf guitars, and it’s seamless.

But even when Still Trippin’ leans in on outside sounds, it’s held together by an indebted experimenter’s spirit. Even the most structured and poppy tracks have a winding quality, and tracks like ‘Pop Drop’ sound nearly improvisational. The Chicago house dancefloor is not forgotten, and justice is all that’s being done to footwork. It can really work anywhere, given a producer with DJ Taye’s chops.

The project might be still more ambitious than that, as ‘Gimme Some Mo’, another highlight, seeks to rewire the brain, suggesting new avenues of cerebral satisfaction. The grooves build anticipation, but rather than for a pop hook looped through yet again, the desire is for the track to explode in a flurry of anxious bass and tinny hi-hats, which it does. It has the potential to create a new itch, the complete scratching of which might require the eerie meanness of ‘Truu’.

Still Trippin’ doesn’t have the crossover punch of DJ Rashad’s Double Cup, which definitely influenced it, but the potential is there just the same. Anyway, closer ‘I Don’t Know’ should be playing at your next barbecue.