KUSH AIN’T LOUD by DJ RASHAD
On Chicago’s south and west sides, there are meetings of skilled and eccentric dancers that specialize in a leg invigorating dance called footwork. The music and dance of the sub-genre have a number of influences that can be traced back nearly 30 years. Footwork’s beginnings find themselves nestled within the brick walls and concrete ceilings of abandoned Chicago warehouses during the early 1980s. There, pioneers of the House music scene combined hard-hitting kick drums, offbeat hi-hats, and relatively obscure samples of jazz, soul, and funk records. Artists like Chip E., Frankie Knuckles, and Jesse Saunders helped to define House as a singular genre, and it immediately became a worldwide spectacle as European artists began to mold it into their own, too.
Back in Chicago, House music began to change with the rise of hip-hop in the late 80s, as some DJs began to combine vital elements of the two genres. By the early 90s, Ghetto House took bloom, and with it, a whole new dance scene. It retained the “four-on-the-floor” kick drum while also making use of analog synthesizers, samples, and tom-toms that simply sounded grimy. Soon, the same youths of Chicago’s African-American and Latino communities that helped to propel the House scene began to dance with flash and speed as their favorite Juke records began to play. The style evolved into what we now call footwork, which is typically used in a “battle” context.
Not even Juke, however, could calm the energy of the youths. The dance soon began to demand faster and more intricate sounds. Footwork as a musical genre was subsequently created. But what set it apart from its close relative was its use of complex layering and palatial (in comparison to Ghetto House) sounds that dictated a more vivid dance imagination. But while expanding its dance array, the sub-genre never forgot its past. Footwork is not only a young and exciting scene that’s growing right in front of our eyes, but in terms of powering the soul of Chicago music, it has only strengthened the legacy of House.
And so now we’re here with DJ Rashad’s “Kush Ain’t Loud”, a billowing track that features the insanely quick percussion of its predecessors while also combining soulful samples in a manner that can only be described as Dilla-esque. But while most of DJ Rashad’s album Teklife Vol 1: Welcome To The Chi doesn’t find itself digging in soul territory like this track, it helps to further prove that footwork as a musical genre can stand alone as a piece of ingenuity. The lush sounds found on ”Kush Ain’t Loud” are only a taste of the hour-long progressiveness found in Teklife Vol 1. Rashad’s plunge into footwork has yielded an incredibly accessible and welcoming style of the sub-genre that can still succeed in preserving the tradition of its influences and originators.
Teklife Vol 1: Welcome To The Chi is out now via Lit City Trax.