RP Boo Classics Vol. 1

[Planet Mu; 2015]

Styles: juke, footwork
Others: DJ Deeon, DJ Rashad, DJ Slugo, Traxman

The expression that an artist “needs no introduction” is muddled when it comes to RP Boo. On the one hand, he is regarded by many as the father of footwork, a genre that has protruded in Russia, Japan, the UK, and numerous global territories outside of its birthplace of Chicago. On the other hand, more than 15 years after the blueprint for which he’s only just receiving wider recognition, RP Boo hasn’t had quite the notoriety of other pioneers like DJ Rashad, DJ Spinn, or Traxman. With Classics Vol. 1, however, Planet Mu takes a moment to shine the spotlight on RP Boo, giving due acclaim to his impact on the genre’s evolution from the horizon of Chicago ghetto house in the late 90s. The six-track collection plots the foundations of RP Boo’s style, which would be progressively transcribed to form the current conception of footwork.

Arguably, the bangs and works (pun intended) of the selection are “Baby Come On” and “11-47-99.” The former, 1997’s “Baby Come On,” is widely regarded as the original footwork track and a breaking point from juke. The track was inspired by a radio DJ rampaging over “Fantasy” by ODB and Mariah Carey, and was produced on the same Roland R-70 drum-machine that RP Boo uses to this day — a display model bought second-hand, with no technical manual. It seems the necessary cut-and-try approach involved in figuring out the machine had an electrifying effect on musical characteristics — that is, the technical limitations were met with Boo’s drive to simply use the available resources to construct an idea. As he explained in 2010, in an interview with Dave Quam’s It’s After The End of The World:

Basically Baby Come On came from a mix that was on B92 when they were playing Fantasy (Mariah Carey & Old Dirty Bastard) live, and whoever was spinning was just doing it rampage style and was going “baby come on, baby come on, baby come on…” So I said, that sounds kind of nice! Three years later I actually did the track, and it came out better than I thought, and the rest was history. Those ideas were ideas that were waiting to come out. Once I had the equipment and the sources to do it, that’s when it all came across.”

The track “02-52-03” is a 2003 remix of the infamous “11-47-99,” which was produced by RP Boo but previously released and accredited to DJ Slugo. Commonly referred to as “the Godzilla track,” the music is appropriately laden with Godzilla sounds. In fact, the track samples Pharoahe Monche’s “Simon Says,” which itself samples Akira Ifukube’s “Gojira Tai Mosura” from the 1964 Japanese kaiju film Mothra vs. Godzilla. It’s interesting to consider this in the context of a cultural give-and-take; while this track borrows early on from Japanese culture, Japanese producers (Satanicpornocultshop, Paisley Parks, Foodman) have reciprocally been forerunners in more recent advancements of the genre.

The final three tracks each take Class Action’s “Weekend” as source material, a source that RP Boo would consistently return to. Each track, however, separately exemplifies Boo’s idiosyncrasies. First is “Night & Day,” which is arguably the most notable, followed by “Try 2 Break” and a 1998 remix of the latter by RP Boo and the late DJ Rashad (RIP). What’s striking about Classics Vol. 1 is how the specific progression of tracks effectively elucidates the progression of the genre, particularly as an evolution from juke. While juke is clearly lingering at the top of the record, through its course you progressively hear more of the broken, jittery snare patterns that characterize footwork and provide the necessary stimulation for the dance battles that would be the catalyst — by way of a torrent of YouTube uploads — for many people’s appreciation of the music.

For anyone remotely interested in footwork’s history, Classics Vol. 1 is a crucial gesture toward its blessed event and the groundwork that followed. Its release, following Boo’s 2013 full-length Legacy — the first real document of his estate other than scattered appearances on Planet Mu’s compilations — is suggestive of a retrospective celebration of the artist, but it also signals a new beginning in terms of recognition.

Links: RP Boo - Planet Mu

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