DJ Taye’s innovative debut LP puts him on the map of premier footwork producers on the scene today. Not only is the beat science taken to new levels, but his original rhymes on Still Trippin’ bring a real flair to the tracks on this diverse album that features a bevy of top guest vocalists and producers. When footwork first came to mainstream consciousness in the 2000s (after gestating not-so-quietly within the Chicago scene in the 1990s), tracks were quite specifically designed for the frenetic footwork dancers that came to the clubs to battle with their feet. Pioneers like the late DJ Rashad and RP Boo from the flagship Teklife label began to absorb more influences from soul and jungle, taking a more magpie-like approach to the tempos and moods, which served to open up the genre to a whole new phase of experimentation.
Here, Still Trippin’ oozes soul throughout most of its 16 tracks. Indeed, the LP is so soulful and sultry, ultimately I found it repped a “back to mine” feel more so than an album of party bangers. Opening track 2094 starts with plaintive notes from a piano with swelling strings, adding some meditative synth lines to a slow hand clap-like beat. It’s the longest track of the LP but tastily sets the mood for the album.
The real heart of the album is the tracks that meld hip hop with the footwork-fashioned beats. The single Trippin’ kicks off the action with a freaky high-pitched repeating motif while DJ Taye gets into some dextrous rhyming, switching his flow up to mirror the shifting beats underneath. Chopped up low-pitched voices and lyrics about, well – trippin’ – add to the psychedelic listening experience.
Released late last year, first single Get It Jukin features Chuck Inglish. His gravelly streetwise rhymes bring gravitas to the track before a switch-up in tempo propels the track forward, chopping up the vocals and getting the bass and beats popping. The tempo seamlessly waxes and wanes throughout its duration, and lyrics like “just connect with Teklife… and get it jukin’ for real” make you a believer.
Smoke It (featuring DJ Lucky) is definitely one for the smokerz and is a good example of how the best tracks work on Still Trippin’: the main tempo gets the head nodding slowly, but underneath the hi-hats and percussion belie a restless energy that gives the tracks a slippery kinetic drive. For Smoke It – add in some tasty rhymes and you’ve got a spark-it-up classic.
A trio of tracks feature DJ Manny. Need It conjures up a naughtier take on Daft Punk’s Harder Better Faster, but with some crisp jungle drums rattling above and fluid bass lines chugging below. Another4 is tip of the hat to DJ Rashad’s high water mark of the genre, Double Cup. As with many of the tracks on Still Trippin’, a shift in tempo is never too far out of view; however, these changes are not jarring but rather add vigour to the slow head nodding effect of the main beats, rhymes and samples. Instrumental The Matrix is a production highlight: after a build-up that sounds like a footrace is about to begin, it’s all a hyperactive onslaught of sounds with melodies going up and down like snakes and ladders, mutating and twisting back on themselves throughout most of its duration, but fusing some of those soulful sounds in a nice bridge to weave the beats and vibes together before taking the track home for a frantic last dash.
A good portion of the album is strictly for the footwork heads, especially towards the end. DJ PayPal features prominently here, and does what he does best – cranking up the BPM and chopping, stretching and clipping the vocal samples back to some retro CD-skipping future place. Bonfire mines a long lost disco sound, stopping on a dime and building up some serious momentum, and Pop Drop and Truu keep the footwork romp-out gong – don’t break your ankles trying to dance to these ones!
The strengths of Still Trippin’ are the way it continues to evolve the footwork sound to be an exciting platform for emcees as well as embracing a more laid back urban sound rooted in soul and R&B. At just 23 years old, DJ Taye’s debut album signals his arrival as a major player in the footwork scene and a talented rapper to boot. And based on the video for the title track – the kid can dance too.