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Posts Tagged ‘Juke House’

Chrissy Murderbot Introduces Juke

MURDERBOT_blog

This features as part of our special Juke House Feature including 3 limited period digital samplers for £1 each; writing on the genre from Planet Mu’s Mike Paradinas and Ghettophiles’ Chrissy Murderbot; “Best of Juke” charts from some of Chicago’s leading DJs; and brand new digital catalogue previously unavailable digitally.

“Like virtually everything in dance music, the juke phenomenon starts with Chicago House, a sound that absolutely dominated urban Chicago in the 1980s and 1990s. As Detroit was borrowing from house to create techno (and London, Sheffield, and Brussels were borrowing from house and techno to make rave, bleep, new beat, et cetera), Chicago kept doing its own thing, producing an incredibly rich dance music culture that (for the most part) stayed under the radar of UK tastemakers.

Ghetto House (or Booty House) was a huge component of this: by the mid-90s, Chicago DJs like Deeon, Slugo, Milton, Paul Johnson, Jammin’ Gerald and DJ Funk were speeding tunes up, stripping them down, and building on Chicago’s already-long tradition of mindlessly filthy lyrics aimed at the dancefloor. As a new generation of Chicago producers came up in the late 1990s, the tracks got even faster (150-160bpm), the rhythms got more intricate (and tom-tom oriented), and more hip hop influence found its way in—this sped-up, modern Ghetto House variant is what we in Chicago call Juke.

Over the past decade Juke has developed two pretty distinct halves: the more straightforward four-on-the-floor party bangers by people like Gant-Man, Nephets, and Waxmaster; and the more rhythmically varied, sideways-sounding “footwork tracks” from DJs like Spinn, Rashad, and Nate. Though Chicago’s unique footwork dance styles have existed for as long as I remember, the last five years have seen a sort of feedback loop develop—the music gets faster and more off-kilter, which inspires the dancers to get more intricate and experimental, which encourages the producers to make the tracks weirder still.

This all brings us to about 2008—the first time I noticed juke making an impact in the UK. I was playing juke at a Ruffnek Diskotek night in Bristol, and Headhunter (who I’d always enjoyed but assumed to be one of those strict dubstep-only types) starts gushing about juke! Turns out he’d planned to play a bunch of footwork trax that night, and been working on this side project called Addison Groove. When I got back to the states he sent me “Footcrab” and I realized that this music might finally have a chance in Britain. Maybe it’s the chance overlap with dubstep’s semi-halftime rhythmic experimentation and massive bass weight; perhaps it’s related to the UK underground’s long-overdue rediscovery of house music (via UK Funky / Tropical / Karnival / whatever you want to call it). Whatever the reason, Chicago dance music finally seems to make sense in the British context in a way that it hasn’t since the 1980s. And now Planet Mu is stepping in, snatching up footwork producers like DJ Nate, DJ Roc, and DJ Rashad, much like they snapped up tracks from Pinch, Vex’d, and MRK1 as dubstep started to break five years ago. Add to that the support from London’s Night Slugs crew, Numbers in Glasgow, and a small-but-rapidly-expanding juke scene on the continent, and things are looking very promising for us Chicago kids….”

Chrissy Murderbot

Editor’s Note: We changed the title of this post from “Chrissy Murderbot Introduces Juke House” to “Chrissy Murderbot Introduces Juke”…

We was unaware that “Juke House” means a brothel house in some parts of the world!

Mike Paradinas Introduces Juke

Footwork_blog

This features as part of our special Juke House Feature including 3 limited period digital samplers for £1 each; writing on the genre from Planet Mu’s Mike Paradinas and Ghettophiles’ Chrissy Murderbot; “Best of Juke” charts from some of Chicago’s leading DJs; and brand new digital catalogue previously unavailable digitally.

“I’d been aware of Chicago ghetto house and the Dance Mania label’s releases since the early 1990s, and indeed owned many records of that era from artists such as DJ Funk, DJ Deeon and Parris Mitchell but i’d lost touch at the end of that decade as the records stopped getting imported into the UK, and indeed stopped getting pressed altogether. I’d also heard of Chicago Juke (as ghetto house came to be known) but the little I had heard sounded very similar to Ghettotech (and even B-More club), with a steady 4/4 kick and bouncy party feel, which personally didn’t excite my musical bits.

Then in late 2008 and early ‘09, thanks to the recommendation of a friend, via Youtube, Jamglue and Imeem (the latter two now sadly defunct) I started hearing something which, to me, sounded very different; still called Juke, but somehow the party atmosphere had gone and along with it, the 4/4 kick. This was a music infused with dread, dreamlike layered and repetitive vocals, a pulsing sub-bass.. sounds and samples taken from pop, hip-hop and r&b were pitched up and down and repeated reminding me of hardcore and early jungle’s first, more primitive, experiments with sampling in the early 90s. Obviously Chicago’s producers had never heard, or at least never been influenced by UK Jungle but the parallels seem to be there to me, in the use of sub-bass and helium vocals, repetition and chopped up samples and the increasing tempo (160bpm) meaning the switch to half-speed rhythms started happening. This seemed to me to be analogous to when, around ‘93 the sped up rush of hardcore’s 150-160bpm breakbeats mutated into jungle and as the tempo kept increasing, the dread basslines started to emphasise the slower 80/90bpm interpretation of the track; or when between 2004 and 2005 2-step garage and early (horsepower) dubstep’s skippiness mutated gradually into the ‘half-step’ of Digital Mystikz and Loefah.

This newer (newer to me) sound was being described as Footworking music or ‘Foot Wurk’ and was accompanied by rapid-fire below-waist dance moves. Watching the videos and hearing the dance & music in combination made far more sense.

Before reading any further may I suggest you listen to a mix of my own ‘footwork favourites’ that I did a couple of months or so back to see whether you like the genre, it contains many tracks I’ve licensed for the upcoming Footwork compilation on Planet Mu:

Footwork dancing has a long history in Chicago being around since at least the mid 80s, one of the first and most famous Footwork groups was House-O-Matics, and weekly footwork events happen on Sundays at Walacam’s “Warzone” party and “Battlegroundz” both on Chicago’s westside. But I’m personally more interested in the evolution of the music, so forgive me if i ignore the dancers, the YPS, Heat Squad, Terra Squad etc… and concentrate on the music. It’s more my area, and I’m well aware that the footwork dance drove the evolution of the music and vice versa.

The pioneer of Footwork (for brevity’s sake when I say ‘footwork’ from now on I am referring to the particular style of juke music, rather than the dance) was RP Boo (aka Arpebu, Record Player Boo). He was one of the first to produce tracks in the ‘half-speed’ footwork style with the signature Juke tom, and clave sounds in offbeat syncopated patterns, often in triplets. DJ Clent was also an early innovator in beat patterns, but RP’s trax have an otherworldly quality which I love. Here is a link to an interview with RP by Dave Quam from his excellent blog It’s After The End Of The World

RP Boo – Total Darkness

The repetitive looped vocals of which ‘Total Darkness’ is almost entirely made give the track a dream-like hypnotic intensity.

RP Boo – Eraser

Taking a sample of Wings and making it one of the darkest tracks i’ve heard.

RP Boo – Steam Midity

These tracks are all from about 2007.

The DJs Rashad (Harden) and Spinn (Morris Harper) From GetoTeknitianz are pretty much the undisputed kings of Footwork Djing. Here is a video of Rashad DJing at a footwork event (Battlegroundz I Think?). Rashads trax are full of tight funk and very on-point and danceable rhythms. A couple of tracks below:

DJ Rashad – Drop Juke Out

Very hip hop feel in the half speed syncopations here… again the hypnotic repetitive vox give the track a great feel, one of my favourites from the Juke Trax label, which I believe will soon be available on Bleep.

DJ Rashad – Itz Not Rite

Here Rashad cuts up the track making one of the most abstract footwork rhythms yet out of the space between the samples, masterpiece. This is the lead track on Rashad’s forthcoming Planet Mu EP.

Another popular DJ is DJ Roc (Clarence Johnson), whose ‘Bosses of the circle’ crew were on of the first (so he tells me) to start selling cd mixtapes of Footwork and Juke mixes. His style is somewhere between the straight Juke and Footwork styles. I cannot find much DJ Roc on youtube, but there are quite a few of his older more juke style tracks on DJ Slugo’s Subterranean Playhouse label and he has a release forthcoming in a couple of months on planet mu.

DJ Roc – Let Me Go mixed into P.A.N.I.C.

There is also a style which has been referred to as “Bedroom Juke”. Lots of tracks posted on youtube by self-styled “DJs” such as DJ Nate meaning producer in this case as I’m pretty sure Nate can’t DJ, but these guys (and some girls such as DJ Ga Ga aka Jerrilynn Patton) wanted to get involved with the scene but had varying levels of success in acheiving popularity and many have gone on to pursue careers in hiphop rapping and production. These ‘Bedroom juke’ or ‘Youtube Juke’ tracks have tended to be a little more abstract and plentiful with tom fills and off kilter rhythms. These were very popular among the younger generation in high school, and mixtapes were passed around class.

DJ Nate – give dat man room

DJ Nate – time

Another guy who made footwork and is now producing hip hop under the name ‘DJ Spacey” is DJ Trouble (aka Prentice Livingston) whose trax have a lot of style and emotion:

DJ Trouble – fuck em up

DJ Trouble – Bangs & Works

DJ Tha Pope is “Chicago’s youngest celebrity” and presents on channel 19. I can’t find his best tracks on youtube, but here are a couple of good ones:

Tha Pope – one blood

Tha Pope – Everybody Bob

and finally…
DJ Elmoe – whea yo ghost at

You’ll hear a lot more of the goodness when Planet Mu release their Foot Wurk compilation “Bangs & Wurks” early next year. In the meantime we’ve got releases from DJ Nate, DJ Roc and DJ Rashad before the end of the year.”

Mike Paradinas


Editor’s Note: We changed the title of this post from “Mike Paradinas Introduces Juke House” to “Mike Paradinas Introduces Juke”…

We was unaware that “Juke House” means a brothel house in some parts of the world!