DJ Taye Still Trippin’

[Hyperdub; 2018]

Styles: waves breaking, feet in sneakers, how pavement bends
Others: DJ Rashad, Jlin, DJ Manny

Like an imagined conversation set before the waves, Still Trippin’ folds and unfolds. It is still unsettled, in me and out.

She asks if that’s how I feel, really, but it sounds like the loll of piano, a fission of hi-hat. Or: “You thought you was trippin?”

“I don’t know,” and I let the waves lap up around my ankles, depositing me farther and farther into the earth.

Retreat, work feet. Waves work because they have to. Under the wash of time, friction and gravity mesh with water and rock. One thing recedes and another is pushed to the shore; there can be no wave without the previous wave. Where it starts, where it ends. I don’t know.

Footwork works like waves. Bodies in motion tend to remain joyful in motion. Drum and bass funnel voice and feet through tunnels of time (this is where the sound is from, this is where the feet will be), and like at shorelines, new life breaks out in a new world. “It looks like a dance from another dimension.” (Afropop Worldwide)

In the wake of waves, changing is beautiful. Mutations abound. Still Trippin’ is the latest bloom in the footwork germination started in Chicago, a dimension ago. Taye, of Teklife via Hyperdub, wears his respects loud and proud: Still Trippin’ is the “anything to get more people footworking. Anything that keeps anybody footworking.” In the footworking, you could not know (how to foot those bills, fix those hearts, see that self) and still feel the presence of freedom. At the same time (always: “still trippin’” means not sittin’ means occupying multiple states of knowing), Still Trippin’ represents a deviation of forms. “I just want to push our music beyond what it is, to make it look different, and make people pay attention to it,” Taye said. One thing recedes and another is pushed to the shore.

There’s precedent for its celebrators pulling and pushing footwork’s boundaries into a future sound. If DJ Rashad scrambled the margins while jamming the frame farther open and Jlin morphed the language of a post-house physicality into a skeleton network of infinite interiors, Taye’s wave presents footwork as a site of free not-knowing. It is accessible and impossible. “Trippin” distills the spirit of the record, Taye’s pitch-slicked bars amid the chitter and drift of an arpeggio world. Lead single “Get it Jukin’” has hip-hop cadence and the messy warmth of Chuck Inglish toasting and boasting. And then the last seconds of the song see the samples sputter out and around into the unrelenting “Pop Drop.” “Do pop pop drop drop,” where it starts, where it ends.

Taye makes a distinction between tracks and songs. Still Trippin’ feels populated by both. If some of the entities here feel minor or slighter than others, that feel is addressed in the record’s mission: still trippin’. “Smokeout” is a world in itself, the feel of a thick haze’s particles in dialogue, but “Bonfire” is just the blaze. Both make me move, but the movements are different. Still Trippin’ mixes moments and movements in a sometimes frustrating and frequently exuberant break. Sega sinews line rubber bones. “Truu” goes hard at softness, like an imaginary conversation. Something’s happening in the background of that song, a floating fluting matrix that is unsettling and beautiful. “Need It” needles the centers of my ears and doesn’t let up, one voice, steady, “I need it, I want it, I got to, to lick it, to taste it, to touch it, to hold it, to give it, to take it, to swallow/ To make you hold me tight and on and on and on,” and another, wheeling, “Give it to me, giveittomegiveittome.” Which one are you? Which one am I?

And it ends (starts) with “I Don’t Know.” Synth lit, circle tones snap, and Fabi Reyna intones those title words a few sounds, not sounding despondent or doomed. Not knowing is a valid step forward for footwork. Not knowing the endpoint brings the trip such sweet presence. How could you know what’s out under water? How could you know all your steps will land so perfectly that the space of the sneaker will kiss the precise pavement? How will we know that it’s all all right?

Trust making, trust footwork. Trust the trip and Taye and Teklife and your body’s sweetest instincts and Rashad (keep the best peace, departed) and not knowing. Trust that the ground under your feet is the same ground under the waves and that all our feelings will crest and break toward something past knowing.

Most Read